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“They left everything and followed him?”
After meeting Jesus the apostles made a radical decision that would change their lives forever.
But what did they really believe they were leaving? And what did they think following Jesus would get them?
In that day the apostles were just average folk grinding out a living. Life had little to offer them beyond the day to day monotony of sheer existence. They lived under the rule of the Roman Empire with little to no freedom. They were second class citizens working to pay taxes to a pagan government without a homeland of their own.
The only thing to look forward to was the possibility of a Messiah coming on the scene during their lifetime. And that was a longshot.
The prophets predicted that the Messiah would free their country and restore Israel to a place of world domination and the kingdom of God on earth.
When they heard that John the baptizer was claiming that this Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, they became curious and hopeful. And after meeting Jesus, they were convinced he indeed was the Anointed one who came to save his people.
So when Jesus asked each one of them to follow him, what did they think they were leaving?
Likely they believed that they could leave behind a hopeless, dead end life with no
possibility of prospering.
And what did they think they were gaining by following this Jesus?
Perhaps getting their own country back again which could mean freedom, power, position and prosperity.
So leaving everything behind to follow Jesus was not so much a decision of sacrifice and surrender as it was for personal gain. Never had it occurred to them that following Jesus meant giving up their lives and ultimately being put to death.
How true is that today?
How many people make a decision to follow Jesus because their expectations are like those of the early disciples? They want a better life free from the oppression and suffering felt in the daily grind.
They want peace, prosperity, and happiness. They want the perfect spouse, a better job, control over any negative or oppressive circumstances and the assurance that Jesus will bless them beyond their wildest imagination.
Few would expect that following Jesus means giving up everything and surrendering control over my life for his Lordship. That would require of course a commitment to abandon all expectations of the perfect life on earth and agree to whatever Jesus calls them to.
Whether it be a life of sacrifice and hardship or a life of relative ease and blessing, the Jesus follower will give up everything to gain His presence, power and intimacy. And the Lord can then lead his followers in ways that can accomplish the will of God on earth as it is in Heaven.
Maybe we need to re-evaluate our reason for following Jesus and ask Him to help us have the right motive along with the courage to give up everything to gain more of Him.