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.
This morning, when I rose, I heard the blower on our woodstove still pumping warm air into the house, nearly eight hours after I had last added wood. Should I desire I warm house in the morning–and for the sake of this discussion, I’ll pretend that we don’t have the furnace as a backup–then I have to make sure to put a full firebox of big, high-quality wood in the stove just before I turn in for the night.
But actually there’s more to it than that. To stoke the fire just before bed, I need to have a stack of firewood sitting outside on the porch. And to have the firewood on the porch, I need to have split and stacked it by the barn. And to make that happen, I need to have cut it to length in the woods and brought it up to the barn. I could go on by speaking of the need to have chainsaw oil and sharp chains, but I think you get the picture. Most things worth doing require preparation.
There’s one word in today’s passage that suggests to me that–Sons of Thunder or not–the sons of Zebedee were not impulsive young men. Rather than just blundering out on the water, these men sat with their father “preparing their nets.” They must have understood that in order to get the most of their fishing labors, they needed to perform all the proper preparatory steps.
That’s what makes their obedience to Jesus “without delay” all the more remarkable to me. These fellows, unless they just really wanted to get away from home, don’t seem the sort to run off after the first shiny thing that appeared. They would prepare, but in this case they didn’t.
I must confess that I rarely follow Christ with reckless abandon. I don’t abandon the good and important work that I find before me, work that my family approves, to chase after this rabbi from Nazareth. But shouldn’t I?
Wouldn’t the church be stronger if the prudent and judicious people followed Jesus without a thought to the worldly ramifications of their deeds? Sure, it’s folly to go on a mission trip where you don’t know the language, but go anyway. Maybe it’s nonsense to charge into some exciting new program, but if that is Christ’s call, then let’s do it. Sometimes I think we use “preparing our nets” as an excuse to avoid an uncomfortable obedience.