Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

God’s audition

REMEMBERING THE intentionality with which Jesus lived can bring a whole new understanding to some very familiar Bible stories. There is usually much more going on than first meets the eye.

Take the account of His calling the first of His disciples. It opens with Jesus speaking to a large crowd on the shore of Lake Gennesaret from a borrowed fishing boat. After He finishes, He tells the owner, Simon, to push out into deeper water and cast his net.

Though Peter, as he will become known, has just spent the night out on the water and caught zip, he agrees. As a seasoned fisherman, Peter has reason to dismiss the advice of a carpenter, but he doesn’t.

“Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!” he says. “But at your word I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5). The NIV translates Peter’s words as: “Because you said so.” Next thing you know, the nets are bursting with a huge catch, and Peter falls at Jesus’s feet in wonder.

The incident so amazes Peter that when Jesus tells him that “from now on you will be catching men” (verse 10), Peter doesn’t even blink. In the next verse, we read that “when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed (Jesus).”

Maybe that situation wasn’t just a series of disconnected events. I can’t help wondering whether it was some sort of audition.

Perhaps Jesus already had Peter in mind for His inner circle and wanted to test Peter’s openness to being challenged to step out of his comfort zone, beyond what he “knew.” Only then did Jesus invite Peter to a life of adventure.

I suspect that, in some ways, Jesus was doing his own fishing here. He wanted to see how Peter would respond to a small call before giving him a big one.

I wonder whether the same is true for us sometimes. Maybe we’re waiting for some big answer to a prayer for guidance and direction, and God’s waiting for us to prove ourselves teachable in some smaller way first.

Could it be that God wants us to do some of the things He has already “said so” for us to do—oh, like forgiving our enemies, praying for those who persecute us, or caring for the widows and orphans—before He tells us anything else?

The words of Jesus in Luke 16:10 come to mind: “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”

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