Today, I’m wrestling with the story of Jesus. As I write this it is Tuesday of Holy Week in the midst of the Covid-19 stay at home order. You would think that I’d be wrestling with some aspect of the passion week narrative, you’d be wrong. Even though that makes sense because of the week that we are in, I am stuck at the beginning of the story.
In Matthew 4 we see the little story about Jesus calling his first disciples: Peter, Andrew, James, and John. He says, “Come follow me.” They leave everything in a moment’s notice and do so.
These guys simply walk away from everything they’ve ever known to follow a young rabbi whose preaching this message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heave has come near.” They leave their business, family, friends, and home. There is no debate or discussion recorded in the story. Simply a call and a response.
In the case of Peter and Andrew it is said that they “at once” left their nets upon being called. For James and John it is “immediately.” For these two, they were probably teens because their father is mentioned.
Reading this in the midst of Holy Week creates significant cognitive dissonance in me. How can these young men so easily walk away from everything they knew and then three years later walk away from Jesus in his darkest moment? Something doesn’t quite seem to add up.
And yet, as I consider this the reality of my own lack of faith comes rushing in. How easy is it to say I follow Jesus and then in the next moment distance myself? I know that if I’m a follower of Jesus I am called to be like him in this life (1 John 4:17). Too often, I don’t love well. Too often, I’m mean and angry and spiteful. Too often I’m impatient and filled with all kinds of bitterness. In these moments I make choices. I make decisions to turn from Jesus and I do so apart from the threat of physical violence and death.
No, these young men who walked with Jesus for three years did so through thick and thin. They followed him even has he challenged the leaders, both religious and secular, of their community. It was only when they were faced with certain death that they balked. And even then, it wasn’t until the final moments when they realized that Jesus was indeed going to be handed over to the Romans.
As I process the cognitive dissonance that rises in me it is a projection of my lack of faith. It is me recognizing that I might not even have made the three years that these guys did. The reality is that I may have found myself counted among the number that left Jesus after his “hard teaching.”
I am staring at these four young men and wonder, “Will I follow him ‘at once’ and ‘immediately’?”
What do you think? How’s your faith these days?