Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Leave All and Follow

Sometimes I forget the circumstances surrounding the calling of the disciples to follow after Jesus. In Luke's account (Luke 5:1-11), we are told that Jesus got into Peter's boat and taught the multitudes. Once He had done that, He told Peter to cast down his net into the water. Even through the experienced fishermen had attempted to catch fish by themselves, they had failed. Surely Peter was exhausted and exasperated by Jesus' plea to let down the net, after all those nets weren't light. Still, he let down the net, and we all know the miraculous story that follows. The net was filled so full that it almost broke, and James and John had to bring over their boat to help. There were so many fish that both boats were filled to the point that they almost sank.

The part of the story that we always remember is Jesus asking the fishermen to follow Him, but we rarely think about the first part of the story.

Do you realize how many fish were in not one, but two boats? Do you realize how much money they are walking away from at this very moment? Two boats full of fish would be quite the pretty penny, yet the text tells us that they "forsook all and followed Him."

Do you think it was easy? In my mind, I can see them looking at Jesus and then looking at the boat, then back to Jesus. We know that Jesus didn't even have a place to lay His head (Matt. 8:20), and perhaps the disciples had the temptation to keep the fish that He had given them and tell Him they just couldn't go with Him. Maybe they could have asked valid questions: where will we sleep, what about my family, will we even have food?

The disciples could have focused on the blessings that Jesus had put before them, but instead they focused on the good part: a life of dedicated service to the Savior. In our lives, how many times are we tempted to forsake God because we're caught up in the gifts He's given us? I know that I have been blessed beyond measure, as have any of you who are reading this on a laptop or iPhone or computer in some air conditioned environment protected from the elements. Still, sometimes we get too focused on the blessings we have been given and stop focusing on the Giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).

We haven't been commissioned in the exact way that the disciples were, yet we have been commanded to take up our cross daily and follow Christ (Luke 9:23). We have been told to deny ourselves and follow Jesus. And what does deny self mean? It means that it's not about you; it's about Him. It's not about all of the blessings and talents and possessions you have, it's about serving the One who gave them to you.

We must be willing, as the disciples were, to forsake everything that is earthly and temporary and follow after our Eternal Savior. Make it a priority today to put your desire to serve Christ above everything else in your life, because we must be willing to forsake all and follow Him.

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