“They left everything and followed him”

Jesus’ ministry of love begins with His introduction to Peter, James, and John in Luke 5:1-11.

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God,
he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
He saw two boats there alongside the lake;
the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,
he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.
Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Simon said in reply,
“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.”
When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish
and their nets were tearing.
They signaled to their partners in the other boat
to come to help them.
They came and filled both boats
so that the boats were in danger of sinking.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,
“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him
and all those with him,
and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching men.”
When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him.

This story of Peter, James, and John can be about many things. Certainly, it is about conversion. And it is about Jesus the Christ’s beginning journey of ministry and building His church. But there’s also something subtle going on here: A building of trust in Our Lord by those who follow Him.

Like Peter, James, and John in this story, we see Jesus from afar teaching. We hear his message. Then he comes closer and engages us. He teaches us, touches us personally, provides for our needs in some way. Perhaps he heals us or calms us or answers our prayers. “Do not be afraid,” Jesus reassures us. And we find ourselves trusting the Son of God and following him.

God converts us through His personal relationships with us. He knows us as individuals and loves us. And when we can see that, feel that, are consoled by that, we enter into that relationship, too.

I firmly believe in God’s love of everyone of us. He calls on us to love Him, too, and to share that love with each other. In a world where hate is rising, the only way to break it is to indulge in God’s love and spread it. Jesus’ call to love began in a fishing boat by the Lake of Gennesaret. It continues to this day with each of us. Cannot we all be fishers of men (and women)? Peter, James, and John left everything to become the Apostles. Surely we can leave hate to become loving disciples.

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