Feast your eyes on the painting and the calling of Peter and Andrew by the pre-Renaissance Italian artist Duccio. (c. 1255-1260) Several features catch my immediate attention. Look at the hand of Jesus. It is open and inviting. According to the Gospel of Mark, all Jesus says is, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” (Mark 1:16). That’s Mark. The other gospel writers have more to say but Mark is short and to the point. So is Jesus.
Also, let your eyes focus for a moment on the golden sky. It is brilliant. You want an Epiphany moment, a revelation, an eye-opener? It is like the artist wants us to know something bright, brilliant, brand new—like a new day or a new life—is taking place right before our eyes.
Of course, there is Peter in the front of the boat complaining, mumbling, confessing, “I am a sinful man.” I can’t follow you. I can’t make the grade. You don’t want me. Peter clearly does not want to get out of the boat. That is his comfort zone. He knows how to catch fish. Fishing for people is a new ball game. It is a change. Who wants change?
And then there is Andrew. He seems like a good guy. He is not complaining or bickering with Jesus. But you know he is also not exactly moving. Perhaps he is ruminating, taking it in, giving it some thought but still not sold. Again, Andrew is OK in the back of the boat. Maybe he is wondering if Peter will go first. Then maybe he will follow. Andrew doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy who is in a hurry. He is not Type-A. Nor, is he known for being impulsive. So, he looks on, and stares at Jesus.
Don’t forget. We are the ones who are in this painting as well. The Sea of Galilee is beautiful, tranquil, calm. We could call it a comfort zone. That is, until Jesus calls us to follow him. What is going on here is a Bible story. But I believe, and I know many of you believe as well, the Bible is the living Word of God. The story is living. Your story and mine, find the Bible taps into our life experience. As a result, this is about our calling to step forward into the future with faith. Epiphany breaks through time and makes a connection. We are hooked.
So, Peter and Andrew leave their nets behind. No more fishing. We might call it an identity change in the making, or perhaps an identity crisis. But you know, there is Jesus standing on the bank with hands open inviting us to claim not simply a new identity, but a new life made available by faith in Him. It is move from being self-centered to having a centered-self in Christ.
Here’s the deal: we can’t step forward into an unknown future and leave our comfort zone without faith. Period. Faith is a requirement to get out of the boat and follow, Jesus. We cannot predict the future. But we can by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit form and shape our character in Christ so we have the grace and courage to get moving. Happy Epiphany!
Celtic Christianity in Scotland
Led by Jennie Weeks and the Rev. Robin Jennings
September 16-26, 2024
Phone: (502) 762-4705 or (502) 741-1017