Matthew 4:19, 20… Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him.
Jesus was preparing to turn these ordinary tradesmen into missionaries and evangelists for God’s Kingdom. Jesus was planting “seeds” of purpose in their lives before He began to train and teach them to “go” into the world to make disciples. He was telling them that He would in fact change their habits, lifestyles, careers and direction, and give them a new purpose and destination.
In each of the gospel accounts of Jesus calling these men, who by the way were career fishermen, they responded immediately to His request to follow; dropping their nets and walking off with Jesus. I find it a bit shocking almost every time I read it… Did they say goodbye to their families? Did they submit their resignations to their bosses? Did they call their mother before leaving? Matthew’s account says they “left at once”, in the middle of the workday, in the midst of working. It always seems so abrupt to me and yet dedicated and committed on a level that I sometimes struggle with.
Religious historians and biblical scholars all believe that many of the original 12 disciples had encountered Jesus before they actually started following Him. Many were devout Jews who knew the scriptures and the prophecies of a coming messiah, and they were looking for signs of these promises to be fulfilled.
Several of them were disciples of John the Baptist and met Jesus out in the wilderness before their personal encounter with Him on the shoreline. Maybe they had time to think about this decision to “follow Jesus”, and maybe they were wanting more out of life than what fishing was providing for them. And yet, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of praying about it, processing it, weighing out the options or discussing it with family and friends. We may never know how long it took them to decide to follow Jesus or what the decision making process was like for each to them.
We really don’t know what was truly motivating them to follow. What we do know is they left what they were doing and what was familiar and safe to them and began to follow Jesus. They never traveled too far from home and probably had regular “check-ins” with their families, but they did give up everything and made changes to their lives and in their lives to follow Jesus.
What does a committed follower of Jesus look like?
What changes need to happen in your life for you to be more committed to following Jesus?
What do you need to give up to follow Jesus?