As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Matthew 4: 18-22
Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. Mark 2:13-14
What made these disciples leave everything to follow Jesus? They left their jobs. James and John even left their father. Matthew says Peter and Andrew left “at once”, James and John left “immediately” and Mark says that Matthew (called Levi) “got up and followed him.”
What is the cost of following Jesus? If it is leaving everything, are we willing to go? Jesus didn’t say “Go, get a job and make lots of money.” He didn’t say, “Go, sign your kids up for all kinds of sports and extra curricular activities so that they will be well rounded.” He didn’t say, “Go, live a comfortable life, come to church when you can.”
He said and He is still saying, “Come, follow me.”
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good – except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Mark 10:17-22
This rich young man could not follow Jesus. It cost him too much and he was not willing to give up “everything” to follow the Only One who could save him.
What is your “everything”? For this rich young man it was his wealth. Proverbs 11:4 says that our wealth will be worthless on the day of wrath. For another in Matthew 8:22, it was his father. Jesus says, in Matthew 10:37, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.”
Maybe it isn’t money or even material possessions. Maybe it is not your extended family. Maybe it is a sin or way of life that you are not willing to give up for Jesus. Jesus calls us to die to our sinful selfish nature to follow Him. That is what He means in Matthew 10:39 when He says, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” We must die (to ourselves and sinful nature) to live!
I have to ask myself, if the calling of the disciples cost them everything – what am I hanging on to that I need to let go of to really follow Jesus? And if His calling to His followers is “Come, follow me” – am I truly a follower of Christ if I am not following Him?
Don’t miss verse 21 of the parable of the rich young man – Jesus loved him. He loves us. More than we can imagine. But He is not going to force us to love Him in return. The choice to follow Him is ours. What will we do?