While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fisherman. And he said them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And 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 following him (Matthew 4:18-20)
The call of Christ on our lives is laid out very clear for us in the Bible. There are many things that Christ has commanded of us and we will be wise to not only listen to them but to do them. One of the main calls of Christ comes to us through our obedience to endure suffering, not only for our joy but for the glory of God. Here in Matthew we come upon Christ walking along the water when he sees two of his future disciples, Simon, the rock upon which Christ will build his church, and Andrew his lesser known brother. I want you to notice the expediency at which the brothers leave their entire lives and professions and immediately follow. These two brothers would have based their entire lives on the local fish market. Much like the stock market of today, if the fish were biting Andrew and Peter were able to eat, if the fish were hibernating then they most likely did not make very much money. When Christ appeared on the scene all he had to say was “Follow me”, and they left everything and followed. A little further down the water we come upon James and John, two very prominent members in the early church. They also left immediately, and followed. James and John even left behind their father and followed Jesus. The text does not say that they neatly folded the nets and finished up their work. The text tells us that they saw Christ, heard his words and left everything they had to follow. This text does not show us the endurance for suffering but it does start with a call to follow Christ. We will learn later that to forsake everything and take up our crosses is the upward call in Christ.
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests but the son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. Bus as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62)
Here in this text we see again the calling of Christ to two people who seem to want to hold on to their previous lives and yet still follow Christ. For us that is not an option, in order for us to follow Christ we must be willing to leave everything to follow. Jesus tells the first man we see in this story that he was homeless and our calling in Christ may be to complete poverty in exchange for everlasting glory and joy. The second man who tells Jesus that he wants to go and bury his father has somewhat of a hidden meaning. From the Greek text we can gather that his family was living well and without sickness. The man in essence is saying that I want to live comfortably with my family then when I have seen them pass on and then I will come and follow. The third man also wants to go back and say goodbye to his family. On the surface there seems to be nothing wrong with going to say goodbye to your family so that you may pursue the ministry. But do you see what is happening in each of these passages? Each of these men is saying to Jesus, I want to follow you on MY terms. I will follow you when it’s comfortable to me and when I’m feeling ready. That absolutely cannot be the mindset we take when we heed the calling of Christ. We must accept whatever circumstances the call of Christ comes with. Whether that be poverty or riches, sickness or health, death or life, we must be able to say yes to God and no to ourselves and our needs. Christ ends this passage by telling us that if we take on the calling and then decide that we want this world more, if we decide that we enjoy this world more than his calling and his glory then we are not fit for service in his kingdom. In this last passage we will see the ultimate call of Christ for us to deny ourselves and take on whatever, wherever, and whenever.
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sister, yes and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.” Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he will send a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14: 25-33)
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24)
We have come to the point where many Christians say they no longer want to follow Christ. The point at which Christ calls us to death is the limit at which most of us will say to Christ, “No thank you!” Let me encourage you as a fellow brother in Christ to never abandon the call Christ has placed on our lives. We must remember that Christ is Lord of all and everything which happens in the world is ultimately for our joy and the glory of Christ. We must consider first the call which Christ has placed on us then we must be faithful to act out in obedience to it. We must never tell Christ that his calling must meet our requirements or our comfort level. Let us take the words of Paul to heart and “run the race with perseverance”.