In the opening chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, we can read a memorable exchange between the novel’s hero Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the wizard. Gandalf imposes an adventure upon Bilbo, the unsuspecting hobbit. Bilbo says, “I beg your pardon, I haven’t asked for anything!” Gandalf’s reply is direct and challenging, “Yes you have. Twice now. My pardon. I give it to you. In fact, I will go so far as to send you to this adventure. Very amusing for me, very good for you—and profitable too, very likely, if you ever get over it.”
When Jesus called ordinary fishermen to become fishers of men, He gave them a kind and challenging invitation. The calling of these ordinary working men demonstrated the power of Christ that could change lives, even the most ordinary and cast down.
After the initial calling of the disciples, Jesus and the four fishermen encountered Simon’s mother-in-law who was ill. By the time they left, she was well and serving Christ and his followers. The rebuke of the demon in the synagogue and the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law drew all Capernaum to hear about Jesus, as they brought all their afflicted to Him. The disciples learned an important lesson—following Jesus would be the adventure of a lifetime.
In today’s Scripture reading, Mark challenges us as well: “Are you willing to follow Jesus wholeheartedly and let Him be in charge of your life?” Mark’s Gospel records Jesus’ calling of four men—Simon, Andrew, James, and John—away from their livelihoods. These former fishermen immediately witnessed that the scribes did not have innate authority to teach; they depended upon the authority of others. Jesus had all authority to teach and show the ways of God.
The challenges of daily life can dull us to the grand adventure to which Christ invites us. We are called to journey with the great King who promises His love both now and forever, in a kingdom without end! Our sins have been forgiven. His righteousness is ours. And we have power from the Spirit to live this life with joy! Hallelujah!