My children cannot get enough of Simon Peter and Andrew’s call story. They hear it in their Godly Play classrooms, read it in their children’s Bibles and have even enjoyed a week-long Vacation Bible School curriculum focusing on this story. And what’s not to love about these three short verses found in the Gospel according to Matthew? Jesus spots two brothers fishing in the Sea of Galilee, approaches them and says, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” Without hesitation, Simon Peter and Andrew drop their nets and follow Jesus.
The gift of reading the Bible with children is that they don’t insert their own spiritual baggage into the narrative. I, however, have trouble accepting this story as it’s presented. I imagine the author streamlining this life-altering encounter. I find myself inserting resistance into the conversation as the brothers work out for themselves what it will mean to leave behind the comforts of home to embark on a nomadic life of uncertainty. After all, catching people is a lot more difficult than catching fish with a net in the Sea of Galilee.
I have no reason to believe Simon Peter and Andrew resisted Jesus’ call to follow him and yet, I still do.
The brothers may not be a part of Jesus’ inner group of disciples, but they are always named. Both Simon Peter and Andrew become great preachers of the gospel. Andrew, whose life we celebrate today, appears prominently in numerous stories in the gospels. He is the disciple who finds the boy with the five barley loaves and two fish used to feed the multitudes in the Gospel according to John.
Andrew is not the problem here. I am the one who lacks confidence in my relationship with Jesus. I am the one imagining Andrew’s hesitation.
Both the Old Testament lesson from Deuteronomy and the epistle from Romans appointed for today include this verse, “the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart.” It’s fitting for the call story for Andrew, isn’t it? The Word of God was in Andrew; it was in his mouth and in his heart. He had no need to resist Jesus’ call to follow him. He had no need to question or doubt what was happening on that Sea of Galilee shoreline. He was raised imbibing the Word of God. When the time came to make a life-altering decision, he knew exactly what to do.
As a parent, this is one of my goals: reading the Word of God with my children so frequently that it sits in their mouth and is written in their hearts. I want them to carry Jesus’ compassion, courage and kindness in their bodies, available to help them make decisions throughout their day. As we share the Bible’s stories, their faith grows – and so does mine.
Soon enough they’ll have their own spiritual baggage to carry. Until that time comes, I pray we continue to create this internal foundation of faith together. We are helping each other discover the Word who is always near us.
Do you think Andrew hesitated at all, or went quickly to follow Jesus?