Did you ever wonder what it must have felt like for the original disciples when they first heard Jesus invite them to follow Him? We read the story too quickly. Indeed, in its condensed form, it is easy to miss the gravity of the moment. Jesus beckoned them to follow Him, and they dropped their nets and ran after Him. How cool it must have been to be one of the original disciples. If only we had the opportunity, we think, we would have maximized it for all it was worth.
While the compact telling in the Bible is powerful and shows the great commitment and faith of these men, it doesn’t paint the whole picture of what happened at that moment. These men didn’t just make a decision about what they would do with the rest of their lives, but they were also choosing to walk away from everything they had known.
We recognize Peter and Andrew walked away from their job as fishermen. That’s bold to walk away from your job without knowing what you were going to do to support yourself and your family. But it was more than that. They left behind the only career they had probably ever known. Maybe they thought, “We can always come back to fishing if following this Rabbi doesn’t work out.” Maybe not. Peter later “reminded” Jesus they had left everything to follow Him. Somehow, I think they knew walking away from their boats that day meant their lives were never going to be the same again.
Not only did the disciples walk away from their careers, but they also walked from their families. Scripture tells us James and John not only left their boats behind, they also left their Father behind. The fishing business was his and I’m sure he relied heavily on his two younger sons to help with the heavy lifting. Yet when Jesus called them, they left their father and their career behind. They left their boats, their nets, and their families behind. They left everything to follow Jesus.
Which brings me back to how we would have reacted. Jesus is still calling people to follow Him. He’s calling you and He’s calling me. We think we would have done a better job than the disciples did, but I think the evidence says otherwise. Would we be willing to flush our careers, abandon all our possessions, and leave our friends and families behind just to follow Him? Do we honestly believe He would be worth all of that?
Let’s put this in our modern-day context; make it personal for yourself. If Jesus passed by your workplace today and said, “Follow me”, would you push your chair back and walk away with Him? Could you leave your career, family, and belongings in the rear-view mirror? There would be no going back to say goodbye to your family (Luke 9:61-62), no wrapping up unfinished business first (Matthew 8:21-22). When Jesus calls us to Himself the choice is to walk away from everything and follow Him or to walk away from Him. Being a disciple of Jesus requires radical change, a change most of us are not willing to make. Before reading through the account of the first disciples too quickly, ask yourself if you really have what it takes to be a follower of Jesus. Is He worth leaving it all behind? I assure you He is. Let us not lack the courage and commitment to answer the call of Christ.