So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him. (Luke 5:11, NKJV)
So he left all, rose up, and followed Him. (Luke 5:28, NKJV)
Have you ever wondered why Jesus chose the twelve men He did to become His disciples? What qualities did He see in each man that caused Him to bring them into His inner circle? The Bible offers few background details, but we know several were fishermen and Matthew was a tax collector. Simon (not Peter) was a Zealot, a religious sect that sought to overthrow Roman rule. Some speculate Judas may have been an accountant or bookkeeper since he became the group’s treasurer.
While we do not know much about each man’s personal life, we do know each chose to respond to Jesus’ invitation to “follow me.” Peter, Andrew, James, and John walked away from their fishing boats. Matthew rose up and walked away from his tax collecting business. I’m sure friends may have questioned their actions, but they left their former life behind to go with Jesus.
Leaving everything behind to follow Jesus sounds radical, extreme. Even foolish. What about their jobs? Their families? What kind of security could they possibly have following an itinerate teacher up and down the countryside? In fact, when He sent them out to minister, He said they were to take nothing with them. “Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food” (Matthew 10:9-10, NKJV). He wanted them to learn to hold material things loosely and have faith their needs would be met.
Following Jesus required a deliberate step of faith for the twelve. The same is true for us today. We willingly surrender control to Him. We allow Him to choose the path and set the pace for our lives. He leads, we follow.
What does it really mean for us to forsake all, you wonder? Perhaps we should ask what holds first place in your life? What things would hinder you from giving first place to the Lord? Desire for personal achievements, material possessions, social status, the opinion of others? When He asks us to forsake all, He is not asking us to abandon everyone and everything to live under a bridge somewhere. He is asking us to choose following Him over the things of this world, the spiritual over the carnal. We must be willing to put aside anything that would divide our loyalties and hinder our service to Him.
When Jesus died at Calvary, His action demonstrated extreme love and strong commitment to us. There was nothing half-hearted about it; He freely gave His all. If He loved us that much, we can safely entrust our lives to Him. Following Jesus–allowing Him first place in our life–is the most rewarding decision we will ever make.
Lord, I choose to give You first place in my life. I’m relinquishing control to You and choosing Your plans over my plans. Help me to keep my priorities straight and remind me if I falter. The things of this life will pass away, but the things of the Spirit are eternal.