Mark 1:19-20 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Jesus didn’t hesitate to call people to a significant level of commitment. He was urgent and not at all embarrassed. He expected them to respond radically and immediately! He didn’t seem to care what their friends, family or co-workers would think or say about it. By his expectation of a radical and immediate response, he gathered men who were decisive and not weak-willed. Someone who is strongly affected by the opinions of others is not going to be able to have a great impact on others. Often people claim that they need more time to reach such a decision. This is often an indicator of indecisiveness, of an unwillingness to take a risk or to make mistakes. Such people are debilitated by their pride. Either they are afraid of what others might think or say about them or they are unwilling to chance spoiling their self-perceived perfection. Jesus wanted to focus his time and energies on people who would continue to respond to his challenges. They would prove themselves to be malleable and he would transform them into men of impact.
In all likelihood, we don’t tend to hire employees, to put together a sports team or a band, or to select those we will disciple to maturity in Christ with this same perspective in mind. Talent and experience are usually our primary selection criteria. An openness to making
rapid and radical changes will, however, out-impact talent and experience in most situations. After all, how many Pharisees or teachers of the Law did Jesus call to be his most intimate disciples? These men knew the Old Testament better than anyone else and they were experienced speakers and leaders. Yet not many of them were open to relearning a great deal, except perhaps Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. In fact, most of these religious leaders weren’t willing to be taught anything! People who are already satisfied with their level of achievement will rarely grow to achieve more than they already have. People who think they know it all are not open to correction. They will not be easily influenced and they will be unable to pass on new teachings with any personal conviction. Because they are holding on to their past achievements, they will not be able to change and become like their teacher. Consequently, they will have nowhere near the impact of their teacher. Jesus said, ‘‘A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.’’ Peter, Andrew, James and John, who were open to making radical changes, all became like their teacher. Even their enemies would recognize this; as we read in Acts 4:13, ‘‘When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.’’