As Jesus walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
When he had gone a little further, 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.
A teacher of the law came to him and said “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first go let me bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called the disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.” His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”
There is something utterly profound about Jesus’ message. It was a message which prompted people to abandon the few comforts and securities to hear. These people were desperately poor. They lived hand-to-mouth, most of what they earned in a day’s wages was spent on feeding their families.
The desperate conditions that these people were burdened under go to show what great lengths they took to find Jesus just to hear his message. Such great lengths which the above verses document can hardly be understated; they travelled to remote parts of the country without any food, abandoning their only sources of income to seek out Jesus. They gave up the promise of their inheritance to become his disciples, which left their parents heirless. Jesus even required them to break some of the most sensitive of customs of the day like burying one’s dead father.
These things would be difficult and risky enough for us to do in this day and age, but back in ancient times the lengths that people took simply to hear Jesus’ message were inviting both extreme poverty and social opprobrium.
So what on earth could have enticed people to go to such extremes? What revolutionary teaching caused people to radically change their lives after hearing it?