In the past, I have encouraged people to engage with this moment in a contemplative way. In short, close your eyes, and imagine you were there on that foreshore.
Listen to the waves, lapping on the shore. Smell of the lake. Smell of fish.
Scores of fishing boats spread out along the shore. Fishermen. Several hundred fishermen are doing what they do. Young men and small boys. Old men. Generations from the same families. Hired men. Cleaning boats and equipment. Clattering and banging. Mending nets. Telling stories. Shouting. Chatting. Laughing.
Simon and Andrew, James and John. Young working men. Hard working. Not ignorant people, but not educated in any way we would really recognise. No different from the scores of other young fishermen on the beach that day. Ordinary young fishermen, working in the family business.
And then this young rabbi, with his unusually rough, hard working, carpenter hands, walks by. The one who was baptised by the prophet John. The one who had met some of these young men when they were following John.
First, Simon and Andrew. ‘Follow me.’ An invitation, yes, but actually an instruction. A command. Yet also an offer of sorts. ‘Follow me. And I will send you out to fish for people.’ Follow me because I’m worth following. Follow me because there’s work for you to do. No hesitation. They followed Him.
Then, a little farther on along the beach, James and John. Zebedee, the father, turning to his hired hands, watching his sons walk away from the family business.
They followed because He was worth following. He called them because there was work to be done. No hesitation. They followed Him.
Four very ordinary looking young men. You could walk past them and just think, ‘fishermen’. Unschooled, ordinary people. Nothing special.
Moses was tending to flocks when God called him. Amos was a shepherd. Elijah was a farmer. These guys were fishermen. God calls ordinary people, because he has things for them to do, and because he sees their potential.
Until this moment, Christ was working alone. Now he had started building his team. A team of ordinary people. A team with things to do. There was a church to build.
‘Every group of believers calling themselves a church began on the morning Jesus walked along that shore and said to four fishermen, ‘Come, follow me.’ So simple, so utterly sublime.’ (i)
Listen to the waves, lapping on the shore. Smell the lake. Smell the fish.
(i) David Pawson, A Commentary on the Gospel of Mark, p32