Heeding the Call to Follow Jesus

“Follow me,” Jesus shouts over his shoulder, “and I will make you fishers of people.”

Neither the gospels nor the rhythms of the church year allow us to hold onto baby Jesus for very long. It’s been less than a month since Christmas and already Jesus has grown up and begun his public ministry. He announces that the kingdom of heaven has come near and God is doing a new thing among the people. 

Then Jesus’ first act is to call partners to join his mission. He invites James and John to help him show forth the redemptive work of God by healing, feeding, comforting, challenging and setting people free from all manner of things that have bound them. And the way the Bible records what happened that day those first disciples just got up and went after Jesus.

In the entranceway of the main building at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Va., there is a sizable wood carving called “The Call of Andrew.” It was a gift to the seminary by preacher and wood carver Johnnie Mac Walker. Andrew stands tall with his gaze fixed on something above and beyond his work by the seashore. His fishnet appears to be dropping from his hands. The statue evokes a sense of his having just heard his name called. The carving exudes a ready willingness and hopeful anticipation that something compelling is about to take hold of his way of being in the world.

I used to think about the call to discipleship as a moment when the stuff of faith just clicked and a commitment to Christ was made. I have grown to realize that we are called to be followers of Jesus over and over again. And we are never asked to go it alone. Just as Jesus first called brothers to follow together, so we have one another to partner with, to hold one another accountable, to hear the claim of Christ upon our lives and to heed his call to follow him into the world of need to do the work of God. May we also be ready and willing and filled with hopeful anticipation.