Today’s Bible story from Mark 1:14-20 describes Jesus calling a group of fishermen—Simon (Peter), Andrew, James, and John—to follow him. It’s a story found in all three of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) with some variation, but two important commonalities. The first is the idea that these fishermen would no longer work to catch fish, but instead “fish for people” (Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17, Luke 5:10), while the second (and the point I focused on in today’s message) is that these men left “everything”—their jobs and their families—behind and followed “immediately,” “at once,” “without delay.” Reflecting on this passage, I wonder sometimes whether I would have responded as Simon, Andrew, James, and John did. Would I have really just walked away “immediately?” It was risky business giving up a livelihood. And what about their families? The way Matthew and Mark tell the story, it sounds like James and John simply walked away from their father Zebedee—leaving him behind in the boat. Could I have possibly done the same?
We don’t know what went through these first disciples’ heads, why exactly they responded in the way they did. I imagine that as they spent time with Jesus there may have been days when they wondered if they made the best choice—especially when they saw him arrested, beaten, tried, crucified, and buried. But was it worth it? The fact that we know the story of Jesus, the fact that we can read about it in our Bibles today, proves that it was.
As I tell the children, “Jesus does not promise that following him will always be easy,” and indeed, there will be times in our lives where it will require more than we wish to give. It can be risky business. Is answering Jesus’ call on our lives worth it?
As one of the founding professors of my divinity school used to say, “Answer the call…It’s worth a life.”