If you asked most people about the story of Jesus’ calling of Peter, James, and John in Luke 5, they would say that what is remarkable in the story is the overflowing nets of fish. Fishing wasn’t a hobby for these men. This is what they do for a living. I’m guessing being told when, where, and how to fish, even by a respected rabbi, would be a little insulting. Yet Jesus tells them where to go and what to do and “they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break” their boats “began to sink.” Remarkable!
Or perhaps they would say that the most remarkable thing about the story is the faith of Peter, James, and John to drop everything and follow Jesus. I want that kind of follow in faith at all cost’s kind of mindset, but I’m not sure I am there yet.
Still, sometimes I think the most remarkable part of the story is that when Jesus recruits workers to build a team, he chooses what most would see as uneducated, unimpressive, unimportant, typically unnoticed manual laborers.
And consider Jesus’ next recruiting trip to bring Levi on board. Levi is a tax collector. That means he works for the hated Roman government, the oppressors. He would be seen as a traitor to work for the occupiers, but it was more than that. Tax collectors had a reputation for being dishonest. Add to that the company Levi keeps—a disreputable lot. Those aren’t my words. That’s what the reputable religious leaders say when Jesus and his disciples “eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners.”
Jesus sees potential in all of us, whether we see it or not. Jesus sees greatness and glory when others only see a group of fishermen. Jesus sees promise in a tax collector when others only see a traitor, someone troubled by sin and tainted by the company they keep. Jesus sees life changing, world changing possibilities even in people like you and me.
You and I can make a difference in the lives of people around us. It doesn’t have to be grand gestures to make a real impact. Little words of love, little acts of kindness, little gifts of generosity, little offerings of grace, and little reflections of Jesus can go a long way.Just heed his call. “Follow me. Follow in my way of love. I’ll lead from there.”