Thursday, February 19, 2015

They Left Everything

My daily reading plan has brought me to Luke 5 today and I was struck anew by a common story.
The story of Jesus calling His first disciples. So you can follow my thoughts, please read the text (ESV):
On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by uthe lake of Gennesaret, vand he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were wwashing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And xhe sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, y“Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, zwe toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, athey enclosed a large number of fish, and atheir nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. bAnd they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, c“Depart from me, for dI am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon,“Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”1 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, ethey left everything and followed him.
Can you picture this story? Simon Peter had been fishing all night. He had worked hard and caught nothing. What a long night. He must have been tired. Then while cleaning his nets, he sees Jesus being swarmed by people trying to hear him speak. I'm sure Peter was trying to listen too. Suddenly, Jesus gets in Peter's boat and when he finishes teaching, tells Peter to put the boat in deep water and let down the nets for a catch. Notice Peter's response. He had worked all night and knows there is nothing out there. My internal dialog would have gone something like this, "C'mon Jesus, I just spent the whole night out there and I have nothing to show for it. Can't I take you fishing tomorrow? I need a nap. And breakfast." But he did it anyway because Jesus said so.

And then it happened, Peter has the biggest catch of his life. He calls for the other fishermen to help. Both boats are full and starting to sink. Can you imagine the number of fish it would take to sink a boat? Peter's response is worship. He falls down at Jesus's knee for he knows that he does not deserve this blessing.

This is what struck me: the abundance of the blessing Jesus gave and Peter received. Peter had just worked all night by his own strength and earned nothing. Jesus did a miracle and gave Peter more than enough. I had a financial perspective of this when I read it. Was this a month's worth of income for Peter? Was his family set for a long time? Was this a small fortune? Was Peter astonished by what this would mean for his family?

But keep reading. When they reached land with all those fish, what did they do? They didn't split it up between the three fishermen. They didn't count them and figure the sum they would earn. They left everything and followed him. 

I listened to a sermon on this passage, just to help me grasp this. Jon Courson said that they knew being with the giver was far better than any gift they would receive from him. Following Jesus was far better than the best catch they had ever had. Far better than the money they would have earned.

This is hard for me. I pray for provisional things all the time. Housing, a lasting career for my husband, our budget, etc. Do I, can I leave all of it behind to follow Him, the Giver? I had the same thought when I read Genesis 22, when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Issac, for who they had desired for nearly 70 years. God had promised Abraham a son, and he finally had him. And then God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, just like a ram. And Abraham was going to do it! 

Genesis 22 says "Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son." It makes me a little sick to imagine this. But isn't this the kind of obedience God asks of us? Thankfully the angel of the Lord stops him in time. And Abraham is blessed and given a promise because he obeyed.

Obedience is hard. But I'm reminded by these two men, these two stories, that being with the Creator of the universe--with God and his Son--is far better than any gift we've received. He is worth leaving everything.

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