Blessed… But What About Zebedee

As Jesus walked alongside the Galilee Sea, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, throwing fishing nets into the sea, because they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to fish for people.” Right away, they left their nets and followed him. Continuing on, he saw another set of brothers, James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father repairing their nets. Jesus called them and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him (Matthew 4:18-22, Common English Bible).

Until I read this lesson in preparing for this post I had never given much thought to Zebedee, the father of James and John. Losing his primary help, his two sons, had to be a crushing blow to his fishing business. Imagine losing two-thirds of your working ability. Beyond that, Zebedee was not a young man. He had two grown sons. By New Testament standards, that would mean Zebedee was not a young man. His ability to put in a hard day’s work fishing would be severely limited. At best his income would be less. Probably less desirable, he might have been forced into retirement, unable to do the work by himself and unable to afford the cost of hiring additional labor.

That really isn’t what I was thinking about with this story. No where in this reading, or any of the other Gospel accounts does Jesus invite Zebedee to join them on this new adventure. Did Jesus not think he would be a good disciple? Did James and John not want their father tagging along? Was Zebedee too old? Or, is this a case where all Jesus’ words were not recorded by the Gospel writers?

My personal thought is the latter. It makes since that none of the Gospel writers would write down everything that was said and everything that happened over Jesus’ three year ministry. I just can’t see Jesus leaving someone behind who really wanted to go and yet, Matthew’s Gospel, in our lesson for today, clearly says, “…they left the boat and their father and followed him.”

Here is the thing. No matter what we do, there will always be someone who chooses not to follow in the way of Jesus. It is unfortunate, but it is also reality. We share. We do what we can. But, in the end, we must respond to the call that Jesus makes on our lives. It may mean we have to walk away.

Though the text doesn’t say this either, I would like to think that James and John maintained contact with their father. I would hope they kept going back and telling him all they saw occur and Jesus’ hand. Then, when the time was right, Zebedee decided to follow Jesus too.

As I see the story playing out in my mind’s eye, Jesus comes and challenges the family to follow him. James and John respond positively but Zebedee stays behind, perhaps even begging his sons to stay with him, he needed them. They recognized their call and walked away to follow Jesus. As time passed, when Jesus and the disciples were at their base of operations in Capernaum they went back to visit their father. He listened as they told him about Jesus turning water into wine. He heard the story of Peter walking on the water. He learned of the many Jesus healed. And in the end, Zebedee accepted the faith and joined into the work his sons had previously accepted.

I realize this isn’t in the story. It is an idea that is purely from my head. But, my understanding is also based on personal experience. When I experienced my call to ministry, my father thought I had lost my mind. I know he did because he told me so. As time went on, however, my Dad came to realize ministry was where I was supposed to be. My dad accepted my call and I believe his acceptance also strengthened his own faith.

When Jesus calls, it makes a difference.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s