By Nick Batzig
We are called to follow Jesus and walk with Him daily, learning about life in His kingdom.
We sometimes mistakenly think that those who lived in Jesus’s day had an easier time leaving behind everything they had known to follow Him. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, we see just how much the disciples left behind to follow the Savior. In Matthew 4:18–24, Jesus calls two sets of brothers, all of whom were professional fishermen. Back in that day, this also meant they were businessmen, and the Gospel records imply that James and John were heirs to a lucrative family fishing business.
What was it that enabled these men—and the multitude of other disciples to leave such things as family members, jobs, and social statuses—to “immediately” leave their nets, their former way of life, and follow Christ? (Matthew 4:20). Maybe it was because they recognized the divine presence in the one who was calling them. The same call God had issued to Abraham so long ago, He also issued to men and women in the days of His incarnation.
As a young Christian, Michael Card’s song “Things We Leave Behind” left a deep impact on me, particularly found these opening verses:
There sits Simon, so foolishly wise;
Proudly he’s tending his nets
Then Jesus calls and the boats drift away
All that he owns he forgets.
But more than the nets he abandoned that day,
He found that his pride was soon drifting away.
And it’s hard to imagine the freedom we find
From the things we leave behind.
There is an analogy to be drawn between Peter abandoning his fishing nets and his leaving behind other aspects of his life when he came to follow Christ. In leaving their nets, these men were leaving their former way of life and learning to walk in the presence of God.
Of course, the disciples’ lives were being shaped as they walked in Jesus’s presence. They were learning more of the glory, wisdom, grace, power, truth, justice, and compassion of God, as they followed Him throughout the promised land. They were listening intently to His teaching, His parables, His warnings, and His promises. They were seeing His miracles. They were willing to walk with Him to the point of His suffering on the cross for their sins. It was this last act of the Savior on earth that they particularly needed to embrace if they were going to be His disciples. He had come to suffer for their sins and for the sins of His people throughout the world.
If we are to walk in the presence of God, we, too, are called to follow Christ. This may mean leaving family members, jobs, societal comforts, and even our own expectations. In whatever form it may take, of this much we can be sure: as we leave behind things that keep us from the Savior, we will discover that we gain more than we ever leave behind. As we walk in the presence of God, we will find a joy that we belong to Him, that He has died for us, and that He is conforming us into His glorious image.
Written by Nick Batzig