Bible Those We Bring Along

Those We Bring Along

A guest post by Shawn Blythe.

The first chapter of Mark introduces us to the first apostles that Jesus called.  They were two sets of brothers who were fishermen.  We all know them as James, John, Simon and Andrew and some may recall the story of their calling from our childhood Sunday School classes.  Over fifty years later, I can still picture one of the color drawings in my children’s Bible depicting the scene.

But what is perhaps easily overlooked are the family members who are impacted.  Most notably there are two that are mentioned – one directly and one indirectly.  James and John were fishing with their father Zebedee when they were called (Mark 1:19).   We learn nothing further about Zebedee, but his wife Salome is featured three times in the gospels.  Perhaps she is best remembered for her bold request to Jesus (at least in Matthew’s version of the encounter – Matthew 20:20) that her sons might have positions of authority in the coming kingdom of Christ.  But she was also there at the crucifixion (Mark 15:40) and at the tomb on Sunday morning (Mark 16:1).  Clearly not only James and John chose to follow Christ – but their mom did as well.

We learn a bit more about Simon when Jesus (along with Simon, Andrew, James and John) went to the home of Simon’s mother-in-law (who was subsequently healed from a fever – Mark 1:30-31).  If Simon had a mother-in-law, obviously he was a married man.  His wife is further mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians as being a believer who accompanied Simon in his ministry (I Corinthians 9:5).  Clearly not only Simon chose to follow Christ – but at some point, his wife did as well.

It is easy (and appropriate) to focus on the scene at the lake where Jesus calls his first disciples.  However, one can easily imagine the conversations when Zebedee returned home from his day of fishing.  “How was your day?”  Salome might have asked.  Zebedee would then explain that their sons walked off the job.  If Salome and Zebedee are anything like my wife and me, Salome likely immediately defended her children.  “I’m sure they had a good reason dear.”  If like me, Zebedee would be lamenting the fact that he had to hire additional help because his sons decided to follow a guy down the beach simply because He called them.

Similarly, Simon would need to explain to his wife that he and his brother had also walked off the job earlier that day.  I can only imagine my wife’s astonishment if I returned home one day after work to tell her that I had quit my job and would be spending my time instead following this religious teacher I met.  I am sure that Simon’s wife had some questions for him.  Did he want to become a priest?  Was he joining the Pharisees or Saducees in some sort of a full-time role?  How much is the pay?  What did her husband – a fisherman – know about ANY of this?!  A million thoughts must have been going through his wife’s mind as she digested this life-altering news.

James, John, Andrew and Simon were called directly – but they brought others along.  Rather than seeing the ministry as something that would separate them from their family – they found a way (or at the very least were open to the opportunity) to introduce their family to the ministry.  As a child, I always thought about that scene on the beach as the fishermen leaving their homes to follow Jesus.  But the more I think about this, I think there is an aspect that following Jesus also meant bringing Jesus into their home.  Simon tells his wife.  James and John tell their mom.

It is understood that not every family response to a person committing their life to Christ is as supportive as Simon’s wife or the mother of James and John.  It is not unreasonable to imagine that perhaps the families of some of the other apostles were less enthusiastic about their life change.  But when we bring Christ home, we take that risk.

For those who may be following the advances in gene therapy, it is nearly unbelievable what can now be done.  Alterations in DNA (gene editing) can make corrections to genetic errors that cause illness.  Once this altered DNA enters our body, the correction is replicated, and the cells are forever changed.  They no longer create cells with the disease, but rather healthy cells.  It is not dissimilar from inviting Christ into our lives and homes.  We will be changed.  It is a risk – but once it is done one cannot go back.

Although Simon apparently walked away from his fishing nets at the start of Christ’s ministry, it is worth catching up with him several years later.  After following Jesus throughout his ministry, witnessing the miracles, denying even knowing Christ, seeing the crucifixion, and realizing the truth of the resurrection, Simon had been through a lot.  I can’t even imagine trying to digest what Simon had witnessed and experienced over those intervening years.  But when he needed to decompress – he returned to his nets.  It is difficult to know what Simon is thinking after the discovery of the empty tomb and at least two appearances of the risen Christ (John 20), but I always imagine his statement “I’m going out to fish” (John 21:3) are the words of a man who just needs some time.  He is tired.  He is somewhat confused.  And he just wants to go home – and in his case “home” was sitting in a boat on a quiet lake with his fishing nets.  But of course, Jesus doesn’t leave him there.  He meets him at his home on the lake.  Jesus reminds him of who he is and reiterates his call to follow Christ.

The four brothers’ lives were changed forever – and their home lives were touched as well.  We know nothing about the private conversations following their initial encounter with Christ, but there must have been something so compelling about that calling on the beach that the impact reached well beyond those that were there, to those who only heard about it second-hand.

Jesus called Simon.  But his wife heard the call as well.  Jesus called James & John, but their mother Salome watched their Savior die and brought spices to anoint his body.  As we wait for Christ to welcome us into our heavenly home, we should make sure that our earthly homes are a place where the Spirit of God may work in and through us.  Our salvation is secure – but what incomparable joy if we can somehow bring others along.

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