In the past two weeks, we have visited Jesus in the Gospel seeking out his Disciples and calling to them by name. But when Jesus calls to Simon, not only does He invite Simon to join Him, but He renames Simon, now calling Simon “Peter”.
These two Gospels teach us three things about following Jesus, starting with the invitation He offers each of us. When Jesus calls out to the fishermen or tax collectors, He does so indiscriminately. Tax collectors and fishermen were not members of the “in crowd” of the Jewish people. They were stinky (literally or figuratively), blue collared, poor, and uneducated men. But Jesus invited them to become a part of a group that would change the world. And He does the same for each of us. He disregards our past, our dirty laundry, our education and invites us to walk alongside Him throughout our lives.
That invitation is critical. Jesus does not order or demand that we follow Him; He invites. He welcomes us to join Him. He did not want servants or slaves, He wanted friends and disciples who wanted to be a part of Him, not unwilling and bitter underlings. Each of us has been invited by Christ. Each Sunday, He welcomes us into the sanctuary to celebrate His sacrifice. Every day, He invites us to do better and reach for Him. Jesus invites the Apostles to follow Him and does the same for us.
Finally, when we look at Jesus’ interaction with Simon is special. Jesus meets him, Simon accepts Jesus, and Jesus immediately changed Simon’s name. When we accept Jesus into our lives, He immediately changes our names as well, but like Simon, we have to be willing to accept these new names He offers us:
All that remains now is for you to answer the invitation Jesus offers to each of us.
“Come, follow me.”
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