I imagine it was a little tense.
Jesus says to James and John “Follow Me,” and they promptly left their nets and did so (Matthew 4:21-22). I wonder how things went over the dinner table at home that night.
“Ah, dad, we’ve got something to tell you. How do we say this? We won’t be back to work in the morning—or ever. We’re off to follow Jesus.”
“Oh sure, sounds good to me. Have a good time!”
Matthew doesn’t tell us how the family reacted. Delighted? Disturbed? Happy? Hurt? It’s hard to know. When you have a family business and the boys leave, it can’t be easy. Overnight “Zebedee & Sons” became just “Zebedee, Inc.” Zebedee was surely looking forward to easing back his own workload a little. Now he couldn’t.
And don’t minimize the magnitude of the decision for the brothers, too. Fishing was what they knew; their livelihood. Perhaps they dreamed of adding a boat or two to the family fleet. And it seems they were unmarried. Did they plan to settle down and have a family, like everyone else in town?
Leaving the nets pushed all of that aside.
Following Jesus meant major upheaval for James and John and everyone who knew them. Matthew’s account of the calling doesn’t begin to express the enormity of the decision.
It seems that few of us have to “leave the nets” to follow Jesus anymore. The call to follow Him feels far less radical. In many cases we’ve reduced discipleship to something very safe and convenient. We’ve lost the sense of self-abandonment that marked the early believers.
Christianity without courage has become common. Caution controls us. Comfort matters more than commitment. The outcome is mediocrity, apathy, indifference, complacency … and dissatisfaction.
Our choice to resist change keeps us back from the plans, purposes, and promises of God. What are the nets in your life right now? What good thing keeps you from full devotion to Christ? What holds you back from radical faith? Perhaps it’s time we “left the nets.”
Nothing will ever be the same. Nothing could ever be better.