I’m constantly intrigued by the account of Jesus calling His first disciples (Matthew 4:18-22). It amazes me that those guys got up, left everything, and followed Him. Theologians have made many remarks on why they got up and left everything. Evidently, when a rabbi calls your name to follow him, that was the thing that was expected of you. You didn’t ask any questions. You’d simply get up and leave everything to follow. There was also a saying about it, “covered in the dust of your rabbi.” Here’s some more study on the matter. Whether that meant sitting down at their feet and listening to every word out of their mouth or walking so closely behind them that the dust from their sandals would fall on you, the idea was to be such a good follower of the rabbi and his ways that you begin to mirror him in everything. It’s a complete submission to the teacher and his ways. You’d follow, no matter what.
Studies have shown that it seems many people would love to follow a rabbi. They would look for the most intelligent, those with the most potential and call them after themselves. Typically the followers would start at a young age, closer to twelve. Rabbis would take notice of the young men while in school to see how their learning was. Then they’d pick the best.
It’s also interesting to me that the men Jesus called were uneducated. After they had spent three years with Him, those who did get that chance to be covered with their rabbi’s feet noticed that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Even Jesus had a reputation of a type of teaching that set Him apart from all other rabbis of His day. The men Jesus called had also been covered with the dust of their Rabbi, the Son of God.
But these men weren’t twelve. They were men. They had families. James and John were part of the company of their father, Zebedee and Sons Fishing. Peter was married and most likely had children. And yet they still got up and left everything.
Sometimes it takes just as much effort just to get up, let alone leave everything to follow Him. We’re accustomed to making our own decisions and we have our own lives. We’re happy, busy, confused people who’d rather just stay seated. The King walks by and calls us after Him. But the effort to rise up just doesn’t seem to come as quickly as the simple desire to follow Him.
Let’s face it. We’re lazy. When following Jesus costs us something, we don’t want to make the sacrifice. I don’t like to either. We’re all in the same boat. If that weren’t true, I couldn’t write this post. I’m a pastor of a church and I feel the same way sometimes. It takes effort to get up. We need to begin moving in His direction before we can start following. It comes with the call. It’s just like confessing that Jesus is Lord at the beginning of our conversion. It starts somewhere.
The neat thing about it though, is that Jesus calls ordinary people, people who’ve been shut out of the hope of learning to become something. Jesus calls uneducated people. If they were educated, what would He have to train them in? The educated ones were the guys who gave Him the most trouble and could never get past themselves enough to see the Truth He offered even though they knew who He was. You don’t have to be something special, you already are. Jesus is calling you too. He’s calling me.
The question is whether or not we’ll get up to follow Him. Sometimes we don’t realize what’s at stake if we don’t get up. Jesus called them out of the ordinary into a greater purpose. He said, “I’ll make you fishers of men.” Think of the purpose He could bring to your life if you’d get up to follow Him in your work, your home, your lifestyle. Maybe we do need to leave everything in order to understand what it looks like to follow Him completely.
Leaving everything behind is tough. It’s calling us out of the normal that we’re so used to and into an eternity that begins with the first step in His direction. Don’t we long for an eternal purpose? Don’t we want to make a name for ourselves that carries on through history? Aren’t we a people who admire others who’ve stood up against the test of time to bring revolution, honor, and recognition to those whom society has considered outcasts? Do we really believe that God’s Kingdom is any different? He even says that He’ll honor those who bring in the outcasts, the lame, the blind, the poor, the hungry, those with no family, hope or future into His Kingdom. Since everyone sins, there’s not a single soul who hasn’t been made an outcast from Heaven. They need to be brought in too. They need to hear Jesus calling their name.
So what needs to change? What areas in your life have you decided not to follow Him in? We need to consider everything. We need to get up.