ASH WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2ND
A TIME OF INSTRUCTION
Today we come to Jesus for our time of instruction, a teaching time to grow in wisdom and relationship. On this Ash Wednesday, Jesus begins to talk about his first call to the disciples early in his ministry…
As I walked by the Sea of Galilee, I saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And I said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed me. As I went from there, I saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and I called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed me. (Matthew 4:18-23 NRSV, revised*)
Sit quietly as time allows and let his words sink in. How is Jesus calling you today? What does it mean for you to follow Jesus? What is in your net – what would Jesus want you to drop – as you choose to follow? What is your hope as you spend time with Jesus as your mentor this Lent?
Abide in his presence with gratitude, thankful that you have also been called.
There are several other times when Jesus invited people to follow him – but with additional stipulations.
~ Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:21-22, NRSV)
~ Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24, NRSV)
~ Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21, NRSV)
These invitations seem more difficult, don’t they? As we read these, we recognize that to follow Jesus includes sacrifice and surrender. We will make some tough choices as we deepen in our relationship with him. Yet, as we follow him more closely, as we spend more time with him, and as we mature in our friendship and love for him, we will find that we are no longer afraid or hesitant to do so. We will actually come to understand that these challenging invitations are really invitations to deeper peace, trust, love, and joy.
But today, Jesus is calling us “as is.” Today, we can begin anew. On this Ash Wednesday, Jesus is simply inviting us to draw closer, to learn from him, to be loved by him.
May it be so.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/
*The name of Jesus and his pronouns have been adapted by Karen into first-person.
That passage… follow me and let the dead bury the dead … always seems to me to be dismissive of the potential disciple’s situation. Approaching someone as is – seems to me needs a bit of empathy for that someone’s spot in their life. They may need to grieve for their father before they can turn away from the dusk and into new life and light.
Thank you, Wizard, yes! Aren’t these words hard to understand?
I once heard an explanation that at that time, “I must bury my father…” meant to honor one’s parent when the time would come. So, in this story, the man could have been a young man whose father was still years from death. Seems plausible to me.
And when I can stretch myself in faith, I know that Jesus knows so much more than we do, he knows our needs so much more than we do. He knows more about life after death and the kingdom here and now. When I cling to this, I can find that his command to “let the dead bury their own dead” is not a harsh request but an invitation to peace and even joy.
Thank you for reading and for your words today. I resonate with your thought of abiding in grief until we can turn to the light. Beautiful.
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Thank you, Charlotte!