Why did Simon Peter decide to follow Jesus? Why did we? Could it be because of our family?
There is another angle I kept quiet in the previous post that belongs here also. Yes, there was the amazing catch of fish from last week. Yes, Jesus followed Simon to his synagogue, to his home, to his work. Yes, Jesus made him uncomfortable. Yes, Jesus removed his fears by promising more fishing; fishing for men.
But it would be unfair, and inaccurate to not mention Andrew. Andrew is Simon Peter’s brother. While Peter kept fishing, the gospel of John tells us that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist.
I wonder what Peter thought of this: Did he like having his brother following around a vagrant while he was working? Did it make him grumpy to clean his nets while Andrew was watching baptisms? Elsewhere it tells us that Andrew lived in the same home as Peter. What did they talk about at the end of the work day, when one had been wandering and the other one hauling fish? We can’t really know. My guess is that he valued his brother’s interest in John the Baptist. Simon felt responsible to keep the family fed, but he worked hard so his brother didn’t have too.
Before Jesus even showed up on the scene, God had given Simon Peter a family member that was excited about God.
If you are reading this today, there is a good chance that this is true of you too. Statistically speaking, most believers caught their faith from their family. There are exceptions, but for most believers there is a grandmother, a parent, a brother or sister, a child who got them excited about following Jesus.
When John the Baptist announced that Jesus was the Messiah, “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas’ (which, when translated, is Peter). That’s all the author of the book of John says to describes the story of Simon Peter following Jesus. (John 1:40-42) He doesn’t bother with the fish, the mother-in-law, the controversy in the synagogue. All those things happened of course, but what’s most important to this gospel writer?
That Andrew came and got his brother.
I made the mistake of trying to become a disciple by myself. When I started getting excited about faith, and following Jesus, my youth leaders knew about it and my friends knew about it. I didn’t tell my brothers, and, at first, I didn’t want to talk to my parents about it. I was worried it would be awkward, to be so serious with my family. I liked being a goofy and irresponsible teenager, the serious faith stuff could come later.
My memory isn’t great, but I don’t remember sharing my excitement about Jesus with my brothers.
I even remember one time in Secondaire 4 (Grade 10), I was on the bus back from high school. I sat at the back with the kids who liked to make fun of me and my outspoken belief in Jesus. That spring day, one those mockers, a tall Czech kid named Robert, who normally decided to get serious and actually ask about what I believe. I got to share about how Jesus was important to me for a good 15 minutes. They listened with a new respect and admitted that I might be on to something. It was the last time they would make fun of me.
I got out of the bus and my younger brother (who sat near the middle) said to me something along the lines of “that was cool!”
Feeling unusually self-aware and awkward, my response was something along the lines of “Ya, whatever.”
To this day, that’s the best spiritual conversation I’ve had with my brother. Total screw up.
Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus. He wanted to share the excitement of finding the Messiah. Simon listened and came. Before Jesus even showed up Simon had a strong relationship with his sibling; that trust and love gave him the strength to make the biggest life changing decision of all time.
Family has played a part in you becoming a disciple. As Jesus asks you to follow him more closely, your strength can come from your family. Look back this week on your family bonds. Reflect on how your becoming a disciple started in your family, even if your family weren’t believers. Also, reconnect with your siblings. Here is a cool TED talk from Jeffrey Kluger that reminds us of the power of siblings. It’s worth it.
Finally, comment and write us if you need prayer or support in any way.