It’s draft season for Jesus. He’s putting his team together. This weekend’s gospel story is the one where Jesus cruises the shores of Galilee, calling Simon, Andrew, James and John, his first disciples. But, of course, it didn’t stop at twelve.
The entire story of Jesus’ ministry is an invitation to follow him. Jesus meets thousands of people as he walks around the countryside, and he is always inviting them to follow along; to drop whatever they are doing and to join him. For Simon, Andrew, James and John it was fishing nets, fathers and livelihoods. For Matthew it was his prosperous, if unpopular, job as a tax collector. After Jesus assembles the 12, he sends them to all the cities and villages in Israel to spread the word; the Messiah has arrived. Before long, thousands of people are following him, listening to him, trying to understand him.
But we weren’t–and aren’t–the most obedient of followers. Throughout the Gospels and throughout our history, the “flock” that Jesus assembled scatters and has to be brought back together. Sometimes we wander away individually; other times whole groups of us get distracted and lost. Thousands of people walked away when Jesus made the shocking statement that his body and his blood had to be eaten by his followers. Imagine how many more Christians walked away at the crucifixion, or during the many persecutions of Christians that followed (or that occur even today). Following Jesus is not a say-it-once-and-it’s-done proposition. It’s a decision that we have to renew each day; sometimes each moment. And sometimes, we wander off and get lost without even realizing we were going astray.
Thankfully, Jesus keeps calling. His voice is always there when we are willing to stop and listen. No matter how far we’ve strayed, the Good Shepherd is right next to us. Turning back and rejoining Him is simple. We may try to make it complicated; we may claim that our errors, our sins, or our misspent life has pulled us “far away,” but in reality, we’re not. We are still His children and He’s still right here. He’s anxious to forgive and to take us back.
So, listen to that voice inside you today. Drop whatever you’re doing…it really isn’t all that important, is it? And hear Jesus say it to you: “Follow me.”