Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. (Matthew 4:18-22, NASB) (See parallel Mark 1:16-20)
We come to the calling of four of the Twelve Disciples handpicked by Jesus the Rabbi to spend around eighteen months (by most accounts) of intimate fellowship with Him the Christ (to occur after about 18 months of public ministry). They would spend almost every waking hour with Jesus observing His every move and hanging on His every word. They would often ask questions of the Messiah as they performed daily ministry and traveled the roads of the countryside. Life lessons would seemingly materialize from unplanned encounters with the people that the Christ ministered to. Most scholars would agree that these four were present during much of Jesus’ first eighteen months of public ministry and were in position to become few of the chosen twelve. We will look at a pre-call encounter next, but let us now learn as they are called out to follow. What can we learn from this call to discipleship?
Jesus calls. We must recognize who is making the call. The preexisting Word of God (John 1:1-2), the light of men (John 1:4) calls the disciples. This is not an ordinary rabbi of the first century, this is the Word that became flesh (John 1:14), the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John1:29). God incarnate who walked among men has come to train twelve men to become His disciples; to set the pattern for disciples in generations to come. This model has been left for us to use to build the character of His chosen people – to make disciples.
Follow Me. This command is a very strict call to discipline, more difficult than it sounds. This is a call for total life change. Follow Me is simple command of the Christ is to follow Him, to learn of Him. How? By observing His every step, how He conducted Himself in every moment of His walk as a man. From this observation of His conduct, the ready disciple stepped into His sandals and did the same as He did. There is a choice to be made today because the same call comes forth to us today as those who are chosen to be His disciples. This should be an easy, burdened free choice:
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30, NKJV)
We should be greatly encouraged by this passage because we know that we can partner with the Savior to learn and grow in Him and He will take on our burden. It will be easy for us if we can surrender to His headship (this is where the character of poor in spirit helps us).
Immediately they followed. There was no hesitation on the part of these early disciples, which shows me they recognized the opportunity presented to them and freely chose to follow their Christ. Why do we not see the same opportunity as they did? How can we even hesitate at such an offer? From my perspective I see so few following Christ as a disciple that I often wonder if the Church is hearing the call. We need to make the decision now while the call is still fresh within us today. That is if we have not already. Staying with this study I believe shows that you have answered the call.
They left professions. We are told these four were fisherman and they left that career in order to live and follow Jesus. Yes, live and follow Jesus. God will use us usually where we are planted. But when we receive our commission we may be called upon to change careers or leave our job for full-time ministry or the mission field (we know our first mission filed is our families where we all have been called to minister). We need to be ready and willing at a moment’s notice to do the same. The Twelve left their professions to follow the Christ.
They left family. This is a constant theme as we look at discipleship. Often times the call will separate us from family. How will you respond to this call? A disciple will always follow when commanded (and again being poor in spirit makes that decision an easy one).
Answer His call to discipleship and be willing to forsake all to become what He desires you to.