It has always been a belief of Christians that Jesus’ call to follow him did not extend only to those he first called.  Rather the call to discipleship extends to all those down through the ages whom Jesus came to save.  Discipleship is something more challenging than adherence to a system of ideas or obedience to a collection of rules.  Discipleship is a living, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  What Jesus wants is not admirers, but true followers, true disciples.

Remember, in calling his first disciples, Jesus took what he had at hand.  He did not require those he called to be highly intelligent, or well-connected.  He sought only that renunciation of self and singleness of purpose without which nothing great can be accomplished.  Jesus hasn’t really changed his style.  He calls us as we are.  We   do not make ourselves worthy of the call.

Sometimes, for very understandable reasons, we put a lot of distance between our-selves and the fairly simple and direct things the gospels tell us.  One of those things is how much the first disciples, the first people Jesus called, were like us.  The faith of the apostles matured slowly.  It did not reach maturity until after Jesus had risen from the dead.  We tend to distance ourselves from that truth because it is frightening as well as consoling.  It is consoling because it shows Jesus calls ordinary human beings like us to be his disciples, his intimate friends.  It is also frightening because   it also shows how great a challenge is involved.

It is amazing how much of our humanity, our limitations, we can find mirrored in  those first disciples.  We can see them doubting, quarreling, asking dumb questions, ambitious for power, cowardly, jealous, often dull-witted and slow to understand.   The gospels make it clear the disciples were not always truly open to Jesus’ message.  Sometimes they were blocked by ambition and self love as in the case of James and John (Mark 10: 35-40) or by fear in the case of Peter in the courtyard of the high priest.  (Mt. 14: 66-72)  Their attachment to honors, or to security confused their understanding of the person and mission of Jesus.  Isn’t that sometimes true of us?

There is, however, a very important way in which we can and must imitate those first disciples.  Despite any short-comings, any failures they never gave up in their efforts to follow Christ.  The one exception was Judas.  His greatest mistake was not his betrayal of Jesus.  His greatest mistake was failure to return to Jesus, seeking  to be forgiven and reinstated in his love.