I was on the shore of the Lake of Galilee when I first beheld Jesus my Lord and my Master.
My brother Andrew was with me and we were casting out net into the waters.
The waves were rough and high and we caught but few fish. And our hearts were heavy.
Suddenly Jesus stood near us, as if He had taken form that very moment, for we had not seen Him approaching.
He called us by our names, and He said, "If you will follow me I will lead you to an inlet where the fishes are swarming."
And as I looked at His face the net fell from my hands, for a flame kindled within me and I recognized Him.
And my brother Andrew spoke and said, "We know all the inlets upon these shores, and we know also that on a windy day like this the fish seek a depth beyond our nets."
And Jesus answered, "Follow me to the shores of a greater sea. I shall make you fishers of men. And your net shall never be empty."
And we abandoned our boat and our net and followed Him.
I myself was drawn by a power, viewless, that walked beside His person.
I walked near Him, breathless and full of wonder, and my brother Andrew was behind us, bewildered and amazed.
And as we walked on the sand I made bold and said unto Him, "Sir, I and my brother will follow your footsteps, and where you go we too will go. But if it please you to come to our house this night, we shall be graced by your visit. Our house is not large and our ceiling not high, and you will sit at but a frugal meal. Yet if you will abide in our hovel it will be to us a palace. And would you break bread with us, we in your presence were to be envied by the princes of the land."
And He said, "Yea, I will be your guest this night."
And I rejoiced in my heart. And we walked behind Him in silence until we reached our house.
And as we stood at the threshold Jesus said, "Peace be to this house, and to those who dwell in it."
Then He entered and we followed Him.
My wife and my wife's mother and my daughter stood before Him and they worshipped Him; then they knelt before Him and kissed the hem of His sleeve.
They were astonished that He, the chosen and the well beloved, had come to be our guest; for they had already seen Him by the River Jordan when John the Baptist had proclaimed Him before the people.
And straightway my wife and my wife's mother began to prepare the supper.
My brother Andrew was a shy man, but his faith in Jesus was deeper than my faith.
And my daughter, who was then but twelve year old, stood by Him and held His garment as if she were in fear He would leave us and go out again into the night. She clung to Him like a lost sheep that has found its shepherd.
Then we sat at the board, and He broke the bread and poured the wine; and He turned to us saying, "My friends, grace me now in sharing this food with me, even as the Father has graced us in giving it unto us."
These words He said ere He touched a morsel, for He wished to follow an ancient custom that the honoured guest becomes the host.
And as we sat with Him around the board we felt as if we were sitting at the feast of the great King.
My daughter Petronelah, who was young and unknowing, gazed at His face and followed the movements of His hands. And I saw a veil of tears in her eyes.
When He left the board we followed Him and sat about Him in the vine-arbour.
And He spoke to us and we listened, and our hearts fluttered within us like birds.
He spoke of the second birth of man, and of the opening of the gates of the heavens; and of angels descending and bringing peace and good cheer to all men, and of angels ascending to the throne bearing the longings of men to the Lord God.
Then He looked into my eyes and gazed into the depths of my heart. And He said, "I have chosen you and your brother, and you must needs come with me. You have laboured and you have been heavy-laden. Now I shall give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn of me, for in my heart is peace, and your soul shall find abundance and a home-coming."
When He spoke thus I and my brother stood up before Him, and I said to Him, "Master, we will follow you to the ends of the earth. And if our burden were as heavy as the mountain we would bear it with you in gladness. And should we fall by the wayside we shall know that we have fallen on the way to heaven, and we shall be satisfied."
And my brother Andrew spoke and said, "Master, we would be threads between your hands and your loom. Weave us into the cloth if you will, for we would be in the raiment of the Most High."
And my wife raised her face, and the tears were upon her cheeks and she spoke with joy, and she said, "Blessed are you who come in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the womb that carried you, and the breast that gave you milk."
And my daughter, who was but twelve years old, sat at His feet and she nestled close to Him.
And the mother of my wife, who sat at the threshold, said no word. She only wept in silence and her shawl was wet with her tears.
Then Jesus walked over to her and He raised her face to His face and He said to her, "You are the mother of all these. You weep for joy, and I will keep your tears in my memory."
And now the old moon rose above the horizon. And Jesus gazed upon it for a moment, and then He turned to us and said, "It is late. Seek your beds, and may God visit your repose. I will be here in this arbour until dawn. I have cast my net this day and I have caught two men; I am satisfied, and now I bid you good-night."
Then my wife's mother said, "But we have laid your bed in the house, I pray you enter and rest."
And He answered her saying, "I would indeed rest, but not under a roof. Suffer me to lie this night under the canopy of the grapes and the stars."
And she made haste and brought out the mattress and the pillows and the coverings. And He smiled at her and He said, "Behold, I shall lie down upon a bed twice made."
Then we left Him and entered into the house, and my daughter was the last one to enter. And her eyes were upon Him until I had closed the door.
Thus for the first time I knew my Lord and Master.
And though it was many years ago, it still seems but of today.