G. K. Chesterton said, “When our civilization wants a library cataloged, or the solar system discovered, or any trifle of that kind, it uses its specialists. But when it wishes anything done which is really serious, it collects twelve of the ordinary men standing round. The same thing was done by the Founder of Christianity.”
So it is that an important verdict, “guilty” or “not guilty,” in a criminal trial involving a human life, is not entrusted to legal experts but to twelve ordinary citizens chosen at random. Every murderer knows that he gets a fair chance when his case is in the hands of “ordinary men standing round.”
Jesus Christ chose the common people to share with Him a mission holding the issues of life and death. By intuitive wisdom He called twelve “ordinary men standing round” and entrusted them with powers transcending even the powers of the religious experts of His day.
Not in the whole of Palestine could one have chosen men more remote from the high vocation to which they were called. Unlettered and unknown, and yet the religious specialists—the Rabbis with their expert knowledge of the Scriptures-were passed by in favor of them. Christ’s mission demanded the freshness of the unspoiled heart. Preconceived notions, hardened opinions and uncompromising prejudices were soils too hard and stony to receive the new seeds of Christ’s teaching. He trusted love rather than education to carry on His work. He believed in integrity rather than intellect. He wanted not sophistication but simplicity of spirit.
He chose fishermen, ordinary folk. Let us take heart! Every ordinary person has something learning cannot give. If we haven’t mind we may have muscle. If we haven’t much in the head, we can have a lot in the heart.
But why did Christ choose fishermen? Because they were accustomed to cooperating with others. He wanted men who could work together as a team. He still wants ordinary people, willing to pull together in His cause.
Jesus called fishermen because they were men with a questing spirit, who would go out on to the high seas of the world to “rescue the perishing.” Fishermen are men of action: resourceful, enterprising, adventurous, always seeking a new haul. Christianity can thrive only by capture. The high art of winning souls requires the dashing courage of the fisherman.
In every man and woman there is something Christ can use. This does not require high gifts and superior qualities, but simple faith, strong courage, and conviction that Christ is the answer to every need.
George B. Smith, Meditations for the Ordinary Man