Once singer Rich Mullins noted that in the book of Matthew, when Jesus was calling his disciples, it says he chose whom he wanted. None of them were particularly useful to him, but they were wanted.
Somehow we have a part in choosing too. Jesus seems to choose the ones that want to be chosen.
It’s like being in a bunch of kids dividing up teams for a game. The two captains are looking over the group deciding who they want to pick. But those in the group are sending out signals about what they want as well.
So Jess is picking, and Billy really wants to be on his team. Billy isn’t very good, but he really wants Jess to pick him. He looks at Jess as if to say “Oh, please pick me!” Jess feels a tug at his heart and says. “OK, Billy, come on!" Billy, thrilled to be chosen, runs over.
Then Stan picks. He sees Jim. Jim is strong, talented, and knows he is. He also knows that Stan plays to win, whether honestly or not. He looks at Stan. Stan calls him over.
Jess picks again. He looks at Pete. Pete is short but athletic. Pete is ambitious and doesn’t really want Jess to choose him. Jess is by far the best player of them all, even better than Stan, but he always does things honestly, and that can be a problem when you want to win. Pete looks away from Jess.
Jess looks around. Mike has his head down and looks despondent. He hates waiting to be chosen. He is usually picked last because he has nothing to offer. He knows Jess is different, but can he be that different? Would Jess pick him when he’s probably the worst player there? He peeks out from under his brows hoping not to be noticed. The others would laugh if they knew he even hoped he might be picked. He looks up, right into Jess’s eyes. Hurriedly he hides his eyes. He is amazed when he hears “Mike, I want you.”
Stan laughs. What is Jess up to anyway? Is he just throwing the game away? Does he think he is such a great player that he can win the game all by himself? He must be a fool!
Stan looks out. He sees Mark; tall and muscular. He noticed that Pete wouldn’t look at Jess last time, but he was looking right at him. Stan had watched Pete, and knew he would cheat when it helped his cause. As long as he didn’t mess up and get them in trouble, Pete could be useful to him. “Come on Pete, I can use you.
Pete was pleased Stan had chosen him, but he felt a little uneasy with the emphasis Stan put on the word use. He liked winning, but sometimes he got tired of being used by Stan. Pete had his own ambitions, and it seemed that Stan always managed to get things out of him, but that he never got anything in return. Still, he figured if he worked at it long enough, he would have to come out on top one of these times. He went over to Stan.
Jess looked over the group. Ron was watching him. He looked uncertain. Ron had a lot of talent and strength. He usually went on Stan’s team so why was he looking at Jess? Was Ron tired of getting used by Stan? Was winning at any cost losing its attractiveness? Jess knew Ron had gotten burned several times. Their eyes met. Jess raised his eyebrows; Ron nodded. “I pick Ron.”
Stan wasn’t happy about loosing Ron. Grumbling, he picked one of the best of the remaining players.
Jake was wearing the same colors Jess wore, hat and all. He looked like a player for his team, but he never looked at Jess. Instead, he went over and joined the other players from Jess’s team and began talking to them. But when he looked up, he avoided the eyes of Jess and looked at Stan. Stan gave him a questioning look. Jake nodded. Yes, Stan could depend on Jake to play for him on the other team. Jake figured Jess would never know. He had it made. His plan was to enjoy the reward of which ever team won.
So the captains and players kept choosing sides. Finally there were enough on each team. There were others there who were not on a team. Jess called each one by name, but none would join him, some would not even look at him. They looked expectantly at Stan, but he just laughed. To him they were all losers. He only wanted those useful to his purposes.
In the end there were only two groups of players: those who won, who were a part of Jess’s team; and those who lost or were not part of Jess’s team.
The winning team went to celebrate. Those who had stood off to the side tried to join them. Jess said he was sorry, but he had had to make advance arrangements, and there were no reservations for them, only for those on the team.
Jake was standing with the team. He had done a good job of looking like he had played for them. Everyone on the team believed he had, even though they sometimes doubted the value of his efforts. Somehow what he did always seemed to help Stan’s team, but they assumed that was happenstance. They started to enter the restaurant, and someone stood at the door checking their names off of a list. When Jake got to the door, he was surprised to find his name was not on the list. Had Jess known after all? The doorman called Jess to speak to Jake. “I’m sorry, Jake,” he said, “but I’m afraid you never were on my team. You only tried to look like it.” Jake had to remain outside.
Those who had taken the opportunity to be chosen by Jess continued to go inside. They were on the winning team. Whether they had seemed useful to others or not, to Jess they had all been important, and with his leadership they had all succeeded.