When Jesus called the first disciples, they were out on the sea, fishing. He called to them, "Come, follow me! I will make you fishers of men!" And what we see in the passing by on the sea is that He has done just that.
We saw yesterday that the way that Jesus passed by the disciples on the sea just as the Lord passed by Moses on the mountain shifted the emphasis of leadership and mission from the high places where God dwells to the common places where men live. But it is more even than that.
You see, it was the people who sent Moses to the mountain. It was the people who told him to be their representative, to be the one to brave the holy places for them, to go up and meet with the Lord and tell them what He said to them. It was the people who demanded that Moses become the keeper of their holy things, that he be for them a man of God, that he "protect" them from the glory of the Lord by always and only bringing it to them second-hand.
Entirely the opposite is happening with the disciples. In the case of the disciples, it is the Lord who is sending them to the sea. It is He who told them to go and be His representative, to be the one to brave the dusty, dirty places for Him, to go down and minister to the people and tell them about Him. It was the Lord who demanded the disciples share the holy things, that they be men of God for the sake of the people, that they wrap them in the glory of the Lord by always and only making it real and vital and near for them.
And that they, in turn, make more disciples who will go down to the sea.
It's a seismic shift. At the most crucial moment in the history of Israel, the people were begging their leader to go to the mountain, to enter into the presence of the Lord for them, to represent them and to make them a holy people by doing everything right.
Yet at the most crucial moment in the history of the world, the Lord was begging His disciples to go to the sea, to lead the people, to enter into the mess of living for Him, to represent Him and to make them a holy people by doing the right things.
This is critical for us, as modern disciples, to understand. It's absolutely essential that we understand what this means for us. Because the truth is that most of us think that being a good disciple means going to church, being involved in church-y things, reading our Bibles and praying and growing in the Lord. We think that being a disciple means going to the mountain, that what the world wants from us is for us to be holy for their sake.
But that's just not the truth. The truth is that being a good disciple means getting out there, loving others where we live, sharing with them the Gospel and praying with and for them and growing them in the Lord. Being a disciple means going to the sea; the Lord wants us to be holy for His sake.
And the world needs us to be.
The world needs to know about our Jesus, and we're living in a time when increasingly, it doesn't seem to care. We're living in a time where our culture pushes us toward the mountain and says that if we want to be holy, that's fine - there's the mountain. Go live on it, or whatever. But Jesus continues to call us to the sea. He continues to tell us that the mountain is good for retreat and recharging, but our calling is not to the high places; it's to the common ones. So get back down there and do good work. Do holy work. Make disciples. Love people.
For we are, as He promised from the very first, fishers of men. Time to cast out our nets.