And He went up to the mountain and
summoned those whom He Himself
wanted and they came to Him…
I didn’t know what to think when He did not call my name. Why? What was the purpose? It couldn’t be because of my relationship to Peter, after all James and John were brothers and He had called them.
I did not understand.
There were several of us. We watched them leave without even a backward glance. Still, Jesus was not like the other Rabbis who would tell the ones not chosen that they must try harder, or give words of rebuke that left them chaffing and rejected.
The thing is, He looked at each of us before passing us over. It was strange, warming, heart-breaking, and joyous.
I turned to Silas. “Did you feel His look?”
Silas nodded with a smile and the hint of tears in his eyes. “Yes.”
I turned and looked after Jesus and the others. Bitter words intruded on my thoughts. “How can he be the Messiah? Look at the ones he has chosen!”
The speaker was wealthy and young. He stood a bit apart from us, as though we were not quite good enough, yet his rejection bonded him to us.
I turned and looked at him, one brow raised in question.
The young man shrugged angrily. “I know, I know, my heart burned too when he spoke, but look. He called Matthias—a tax collector—and that Iscariot fellow…is Jesus blind?”
Barnabas turned to him, “Jesus healed the blind!” The words came as a gut response, with a tone of affront.
The young man, I learned later his name was Aaron, answered quickly. “Yes, yes, I saw what He did. But you don’t understand. I know Judas. We studied together.”
Now it was my turn to be incredulous. “With you? I’d like to know how.” I thought of Judas’ dusty and hem-torn robe as I looked at Aaron’s meticulously worn robe, trimmed with blue, spotless and likely to be tossed aside if even a hint of a tear appeared.
Aaron looked grim. “We were in the same synagogue class for our Torah studies.”
Another of the uncalled, Silas, responded with surprise. “Impossible, the two of you could never have been in the same class.”
“Those were my thoughts exactly,” Aaron responded. “I asked my father why someone like Judas was in my class. My father said that he was not happy about it either, but it was that or…” Aaron paused in embarrassment. “I guess that is why I wanted to follow Jesus. I thought, ‘Now here is a Rabbi whose head will not be turned by bribes and flattery’.”
“What, you think Judas bribed him,” I exclaimed.
Aaron looked distraught and almost hopeless. “I don’t know. I’ve been watching Judas. I don’t think he bribed Jesus. But if Jesus is the Messiah, or even if he is just a prophet, he should know, Judas is not to be trusted!” Aaron’s words were grim and harsh.
Barnabas reproved Aaron gently. “I understand your feelings. I too longed to hear my name called by Him, but surely you don’t expect Jesus to judge a man for his father’s sins?”
Was there a tear in Aaron’s eye? “Then why was I rejected? Cannot a man of wealth and power follow a great Rabbi? What must I do to be saved?”
Aaron may have had wealth and power, but I understood that his anger masked his powerlessness. Didn’t I too feel that same sense of helpless questioning? Why was I rejected? I too longed to know. I wondered if I dared ask Jesus why. But who was I to receive an answer? Still, perhaps his position in our small world would help. I spoke gently, “Why don’t you ask Him?”
Our eyes met for the briefest of moments and then Aaron straightened up, pride regained. “Perhaps I will,” he whispered, “perhaps I will,” and he turned and left us.
Silas turned to me, “I’m going home,” he stated simply yet bluntly.
“What, you don’t want to follow anymore, even if at only a distance?”
He shrugged and turned and looked towards the path that Jesus and his chosen ones had walked, passing out of our site. “I can’t explain it, at least not fully. Didn’t you feel His look?” Silas turned and looked back to me. “When He called their names, and not mine, for brief moment I felt as though He held my heart in His hands.”
“As did I,” I whispered.
Silas did not seem to hear me. “I must go home,” he repeated. “It’s not that I feel rejected,” A tremor of excitement escaped in his words, “I know you’ll think me crazy, but I felt that in that look, it was as though He was saying, “Now is not your time.”
Most of the crowd had already dispersed, but those of us remaining looked at each other, realizing that as He had looked at each of us, and passed us over, in some indefinable way, His look had sealed us.
Stephen, a friend from Jerusalem, smiled, “I too can’t explain it, but when He looked at me I felt like there was sorrow and joy in His eyes. I felt embarrassed. Yet, I may not have been chosen— but my heart is His.”
One by one, we began to share with one another, before going our separate ways. I wanted to tell them that I too had felt His call to follow, but the right moment never came. From the distance a woman’s voice pierced my thoughts, sharply calling my name. “Where are you? Your father needs your help—now!” I turned guiltily towards her voice. I had snuck away as usual, to hear the Master. Oh how I wished I was a man, and not a boy at my parent’s every call.
Silas patted me on the shoulder and pushed me towards my mother’s voice. “Go on boy, you’ve seen and heard all you will see for today.”
“But,” my voice faded as my mother came into view.
I wanted to tell them all how I had felt when Jesus looked at me. O how I wanted to follow Him. My heart had pled, “Choose me, I’m not too young.”
But there was no more time. Silas again pushed me towards my mother. “Go on boy,” he said. “If Jesus is who I believe Him to be, we’ll all meet again one day.”
And at that thought, I smiled and turned towards my mother. I didn’t need to tell Silas. I was sure I’d not been rejected. Perhaps Jesus knew about my father’s weakened legs, and how much he still needed me. I never had a chance to tell Silas, then, what I had felt when Jesus had called the others. His warmth, His tenderness, His love—and two words had filled my being, “watch” and “remember.”
“John Mark,” my mother said with reproof as she grabbed my arm and dragged me after her, “we need you at home, now!”
And a certain young man was
following Him, wearing
nothing but a linen sheet over
his naked body; and they seized
him. But he left the linen sheet
behind and escaped naked.
Mark 14: 51-52