And his brother

July 24, 2014

Dear brothers and sisters,

The good news today is from Mark 1:16-20. I’ve been traveling and will be so my postings are a little spotty.

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they left their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.

I wonder if it was intentional that Jesus called two sets of brothers as his first disciples. It seems that he didn’t do much, if anything, without a purpose. Brothers or sisters are typically very different from one another in temperament and gifts, often competitive or at odds, while at the same time being bonded to one another in love.

It’s unusual to entice someone to be the first to step out, to risk everything, to embrace the unknown. Jesus may have realized that it would be much easier to recruit brothers than a single individual. They could encourage one another, look out for one another, and share their feelings and thoughts in a way that only siblings and best friends can do. Jesus was a pragmatist as well as a visionary. He understood the need to be concerned about feeding people as well as nourishing their souls. So, his recruitment strategy could have been a blend of the pragmatic as well as inspirational.

Jesus was also keen to help people integrate the discordant parts of themselves, the good and sinful. To get them to recognize and accept the visible and invisible parts of their natures, to unmask their public personae and reveal the private, shameful aspects of their human natures as well in order to put an end to judgment, projection, hypocrisy, and striking out at in others what we cannot embrace in ourselves. In calling the brothers Jesus may have intended the need for us to be aware of and to reconcile our different natures but see the common source of life, God’s love and indwelling spirit in each other.

Jesus sees us all as brothers and sisters. It’s fascinating to me that his words and actions throughout his ministry were both literal and metaphoric. It seems the calling of the brothers Simon and Andrew and James and John was a display of his dual technique of encountering people and communicating his teachings.



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