This passage is Jesus’ first calling of His disciples. He asks Peter, Andrew, James, and John to leave behind their lives to follow Him. When you pause to think about it, that’s crazy! Why would you leave behind the only life you’ve ever known to follow a man who asks you to? The answer, of course, is because that man is the Son of God.
I think this is one of the most convincing arguments for why we should believe in Christ’s divinity. C.S. Lewis proposed a “trilemma” about Jesus: He must have been a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. What if Jesus was a liar? I think His disciples would have figured that out at some point. Also, if He was a liar, why would He die for His lie? You would think He would have given it up once people started whispering about wanting to turn Him in to Pontius Pilate, or at very least He probably would have renounced everything He said before being nailed to the cross. I’m sure that the fishermen of this story were very doubtful when Jesus first asked them to follow Him. However, they did believe Him in the end. I think that shows Jesus can’t have been a liar.
What if Jesus was a lunatic? I think for that to be true, every one of His followers would need to have been a lunatic. Most normal people can tell when someone is truly crazy, and the disciples, being Jewish, would have realized Jesus was a lunatic as soon as He claimed to be God. If I started claiming I was God, more than a few people would believe I am crazy and try to get me help. However, the disciples didn’t leave Jesus or decide He was just mentally disturbed. In fact, they gave up their lives to preach His message and some were martyrs for it. I could see Jesus being willing to die for his statement that He is the Son of God if He was a lunatic, but I can’t understand why anyone else would die for the statement if they weren’t also crazy. I think that rules the possibility of Jesus being a lunatic out.
That leaves only one option left in the trilemma, that Jesus is the Lord. And if Jesus is God, then I think this passage presents us with a new set of questions. Jesus called some of the most unlikely people to be his disciples. They were fishermen, who were probably illiterate, didn’t know all the scripture that all the high priests in the synagogues knew, but He knew they could follow Him. When you think about it that way, it’s honestly surprising that Jesus chose them. Shouldn’t He have chosen people with a more expansive knowledge of the Old Testament, or chosen people who wouldn’t have doubted Him, or chosen disciples who wouldn’t betray Him as Judas did?
I think this is a problem for us today. We think only the holiest of holy people are the ones who serve in the church ministries, only the holiest are called to the priesthood or religious life, and only people who are perfect are the ones doing mission work or helping the poor. We are all called to a life in Christ! Does that mean we all have to be perfect in our faith, never having the slightest doubt? Of course not. I think the moments when we feel weakest in our faith are the times we come back on fire for Christ even more.
Christ calls each and every one of us to Him. No matter who we are, what we’ve done, or what we will do in our lives, He wants us all to love Him and follow Him as much as we can. But He doesn’t ask that we just stop there. He calls us to be “fishers of men”, just as He is. He asks us to bring His word to others and to share God’s love with every person we meet. I think we should take some time this Lent to reflect on how we have and will share this message that Christ is the Lord, and how we will take up our cross and follow Him.
Emily Shoemaker ’21 is a freshman living in Holworthy.