Early in his gospel, Mark reports Jesus was passing by the Sea of Galilee. He stopped and spoke to Simon and Andrew, who were on the sea fishing (Mark 1:16ff). I wonder if Jesus was “just passing by”?
Some time ago I answered a knock on our door and looked straight into the face of a friend. He said, “I was just passing by and thought I would stop and see you.” He lived many miles away. It turned out he was there on purpose, not “just passing by.”
Could it have been the same for Jesus? Could he have purposely visited the Sea of Galilee to solicit the help of Simon and Andrew? Isn’t that possible? If so, it changes the story a bit. It means Jesus was not just out for a walk and decided to call some disciples. Rather, he was seeking suitable followers for his mission.
Whatever Jesus’s motivation, his visit proved rewarding. When he invited them to be his followers, they quickly agreed. Continuing his journey beside the sea, Jesus met two other fishermen, James and John. They, too, agreed to follow him.
Reading between the lines again, I wonder if Simon and Andrew directed Jesus to James and John. If so, the conversation may have gone like this: “Why don’t you go talk to these colleagues of ours? They are just a few waves away.” Such was the beginning of Jesus’s ministry team, commonly called disciples.
Fast forward 2,000 years and let the message read as follows: This guy was walking by my house. I’d seen him before. He obviously likes to walk. One day as he was walking by, I was working in the garden. He called to me, and we introduced ourselves. He had a magnetic personality. Though I had never met him, I was immediately taken by him.
We talked about my garden. He seemed to know much about growing things. Then I asked him about his work. “What do you do?” He said he was on a mission, a mission for his Father, a mission that would change the world. The mission sounded like a dream, though difficult and dangerous. I quickly signed on.
The last two paragraphs of this column are obviously speculation. But, let me tell you something that is not speculation: Jesus passes by your house, your workplace, your school every day. He is calling your name. Will you answer?
Wade Paris writes a weekly syndicated column, “The Shepherd Calls.”