“The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee.” That first sentence grabbed me and kept me reading throughout the entire passage, wanting to know what had drawn Jesus to Galilee. Had he not planned to go there all along? Did he just suddenly made up his mind to go there? It’s fascinating to think that Jesus could wake up one morning and say, “We’re going to Galilee,” and his disciples went along. That’s like me deciding one morning to get up and go to Payson or Tucson or even downtown Phoenix. It’s not likely to happen, but it could.
That one statement makes me think more intently on Jesus the human being. Making decisions is something that people do multiple times every day. They may decide to go here or there. They may choose to buy this or that. They may determine that this is a correct assumption or proposition and that one is not. Sometimes I wonder how I came to some of the decisions that I have made, some of which didn’t turn out quite so well. I’m glad Jesus’s decision did turn out to be a good one.
I make decisions based on information that I have available at any given time. If I want to buy a new car, I research it. Perhaps I saw a model that I liked and decided to investigate one like it. In the end, I’m working at determining something which has long-term effects rather than whether I am going to the movie tonight or stay home and watch Netflix. Jesus was making a decision that would ultimately lead him to increase his followers both by direct invitation and also word-of-mouth. He found Philip and just said, “Follow me.” Philip, in turn, found Nathaniel and overcoming Nathaniel’s comment, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathaniel became part of Jesus’s band of disciples.
I wonder on what Philip and Nathaniel based their decisions to come with Jesus. Were they undergoing a great logical problem, “If I do this then that,” or was it a tug somewhere inside that made up their minds almost instantly that this was the thing to do? There was no doubt as to Jesus’s charism but was that enough to cause grown men to drop what they were doing walk away from family, friends, and home to become wanderers following an itinerant preacher?
Whatever it was, it seemed to work. Both men saw the Jesus that we have learned to see through our own experiences.
I remember the time that I felt a tug in my heart to say yes to Jesus and to walk down the side aisle from my pew to the front, to act on my profession of faith. It was not a blinding experience or even terrifically exciting. It was just something that I needed to do, and I did it. There have been times in my life when I have been or felt pulled to do one thing or another, some of which turned out to be excellent things and some of them which turned out to be disasters. The profession of faith that I made turned out to be a good thing, something that has been with me almost every single day of the rest of my life.
Like some of the disciples, there have been periods of doubt, and moments of fogginess that I could not seem to see through. At times like that, I had to walk step-by-step until I achieved some type of clarity as to what I was doing or not doing and what I should be doing or not doing. I’m sure Nathaniel and Philip, like James, John, and especially Peter, had the same moments from time to time. But they made that initial acceptance, that initial decision to follow Jesus and even if things were tough from time to time, they stayed faithful.
I think this week I’m going to be intentional about the decisions that I make. Not just little things like do I clean the house or sit or read a captivating British thriller. The house needs cleaning, no matter how interesting the book that calls to me. Do I need to spend the gas going somewhere in my truck or can it wait until I have one or two more errands that I need to run and save the gas for that? Is that good stewardship? That’s a decision I have to make. It’s one of 100 that I will probably have to make today, tomorrow, and perhaps the next day. But I have the option of making the decision, and in that way, I can be like Jesus. I can make a decision.
I invite you to join me in being thoughtful about the choices we make, and not just for personal convenience or preference, but about the consequences to not only ourselves but to others and the entire world. I must consider how one decision on my part can affect global warming when it’s no more than a matter of deciding not to drive someplace today to do one errand when I can wait a day or two and run several. I may use the same amount of gas to do one trip or two, but at least I will have given the earth a day to breathe before I add more pollution to it. I think Jesus would approve of that decision.
Linda Ryan is a co-mentor for an Education for Ministry group, an avid reader, lover of Baroque and Renaissance music, and retired. She keeps the blog Jericho’s Daughter. She is also owned by three cats.