I wish we could know the full story of that encounter by the seaside. First of all, I wonder why Peter and his com panions were so willing to follow the call of this humble Galilean stranger, who was almost as rough hewn in appearance as they were. There was nothing special about the physical features of Jesus that would make Him stand out in a crowd. We are told that He was like a "root out of the dry ground," indicating that He was not particularly handsome. His carpenter clothes and calloused hands would have identified Him as just another villager from a nearby community.
How, then, can we explain why those practical men of the sea were willing to walk away from their boats and nets as soon as Jesus said "Follow me"? Who can understand, from this future perspective, why they were drawn to make a lifelong commitment to follow this seemingly ignorant peasant? Surely there must have been something strangely irresistible about the face and voice of Jesus as He called them to leave it all that day. An aura of love and power must have beamed with such strength that they did not even ask the expected questions. There is no record that they asked about leaving the expensive equipment behind, or how much they would be paid, or how they could leave family or friends on such short notice.
But then began the process of molding all of those clods of fractious human material into a team of powerful evangelists. What hope was there that Peter could make the transformation? I'm reminded of the story of Michelangelo as he walked down the streets of Rome one day. In a corner he observed a piece of cracked marble that had apparently been cast aside by some would-be sculptor. In spite of the ugly split seam across the face of it, the great artist stood looking at the abandoned stone for a long time. Finally he called for his assistants to haul the marble into his studio. Behind the ruined surface Michelangelo had seen something that no one else had been able to recognize. He began to work on the stone with chisel and mallet. Weeks and months passed by as the master hammered and hewed the scarred reject, until finally there emerged from under his skillful fingers the figure of a man that was said to be so perfect that it lacked only life itself That statue of David stood for many years in the basilica of St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome as one of Michelangelo most perfect masterpieces.
I believe that's what Jesus saw as He looked at that marred piece of humanity called Simon Peter. The Divine Artist had seen something in the big fisherman that nobody else had seen, and the shaping process was initiated. It took much hammering to remove all the pride and vainglory. It required blows like the night of the Transfiguration, the denial by the fireside and the night Peter walked on the sea. But slowly there came forth from under the Master's skillful influence a masterpiece.
We can understand that miracle of Peter because the same thing has happened to each of us. In our unconverted condition we were no more attractive to Jesus than the boisterous, loudmouthed fisherman. But when He passed by and looked at us, He loved us in the same way.
I was following a stubborn mule through a tobacco patch in North Carolina when He called me to follow Him. My life has never been the same since. How could He bring any good out of such miserable material? And yet He has done it over and over again. He has taken the weak, foolish things to confound the wise and the mighty. Aren't you glad that He came looking for you, and did not pass you by? Praise God for His matchless grace!
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