While reading the Bible, Mark Twain once quipped, "It is not the parts of the Scripture that I don't understand that bother me. It's the parts that I do understand." There are plenty of passages of Scripture that speak to us and trouble us. But, alas! for me, this is not one of them. Bernard Anderson referred to the Bible as a special delivery letter with our address on it. That may be true, but this particular bit of Scripture had best be marked, "return to Sender; no one at this address!" This is simply one of those texts that we don't know what to do with. And neither did the early church.
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As Jesus calls his disciples it seems like he has a criterion for the people with which he wants to surround himself. It may not always be obvious in the Biblical account, but Jesus is careful to choose people who are really committed to his message. With their help, Jesus will be able to do more and spread the word about God farther.
There are always difficulties in Christian ministry, at whichever level you're involved in it, from church cleaner to the Archbishop of Canterbury. There's always someone who'll find fault, and if like the Archbishop, you're a subject of media interest, then I should imagine Christian ministry can be very difficult indeed and perhaps something of a burden.
In today's Gospel text, Jesus calls for repentance, expects Peter and Andrew to drop their nets and follow him, and calls James and John to leave their Father Zebedee in the boat without so much as a "So long, see you later."
My task today is to issue that same call to repentance, that same call to radical obedience and decisive discipleship. For that call is urgent and cries out to be issued in all of its majesty and might.