LEAVING IT ALL BEHIND
Read LUKE 5:1–11
Jesus Calls His First Disciples
5 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,[a] the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
a Luke 5:1 That is, the Sea of Galilee
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb. 12:1).
Peter “leaves everything” to follow Jesus (11). My childhood image of this remains bright in my mind—the sudden call, the spontaneous decision, the instant departure. Yet there is more to these stories than the Gospels record. Was Jesus really a man of so few words? Or does Luke simply summarize? Furthermore, there is past history here. Jesus is no stranger. His fame has preceded him (Luke 4:37). John also records another encounter with Peter at the Jordan River (John 1:40–42). In any case, Jesus has just healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Jesus and Peter are probably staying in the same house, where people came for healing. Surely there were late-night conversations!
That Peter’s past leads him to his life-changing decision makes that moment no less real, but the decision is no excuse to behave irresponsibly. I heard recently of a surgeon who “left the medical profession to enter the ministry.” Did he just walk away from one of his ongoing surgeries? We must presume that he discussed his new calling with his family and that he acted responsibly regarding his patients and staff. Similarly, we must presume that Peter has conﬁded in his family and has made sensible arrangements for his boats and ﬁshing gear. After all, he will easily be able to go back to his ﬁshing two or three years later (cf. John 21:3).
People can still experience a sudden encounter with Jesus and an instant conversion. Most people, however, like Peter, have a past history—a godly aunt who prayed, a faithful teacher, a Gideon Bible in a hotel room, a TV documentary, a conversation over a drink, an invitation to church… and ﬁnally an encounter with Jesus and the decision to follow him. However it happens, this life-changing decision demands that we relinquish all that holds us back from following Jesus to the end.
“Jesus calls us; o’er the tumult / of our life’s wild restless sea, / day by day his voice is sounding, / saying, “Christian, follow me’” (Cecil Frances Alexander, 1818–1895).
Lord, teach us the meaning of full commitment and the importance of seeing it through to the very end.
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