As a young woman, I imagined myself married to my high school sweetheart—until we broke up. My future yawned emptily before me and I struggled with what to do with my life. At last I sensed God leading me to serve Him by serving others and enrolled in seminary. Then the reality crashed through that I’d be moving away from my roots, friends, and family. In order to respond to God’s call, I had to leave.
Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee when He saw Peter and his brother Andrew casting nets into the sea, fishing for a living. He invited them to “Come, follow me . . . and I will send you out to fish for people” (Matthew 4:19). Then Jesus saw two other fishermen, James and his brother John, and offered them a similar invitation (v. 21).
When these disciples came to Jesus, they also left something. Peter and Andrew “left their nets” (v. 20). James and John “left the boat and their father and followed him” (v. 22). Luke puts it this way: “So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him” (Luke 5:11).
Every call to Jesus also includes a call from something else. Net. Boat. Father. Friends. Home. God calls all of us to a relationship with Himself. Then He calls each of us to serve.
Jesus appointed twelve men as His apostles: “Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot” (Luke 6:14–16). All of these men left something or someone behind to follow Jesus (Matthew 19:27). We know from Matthew 4:18–22 that brothers Simon Peter and Andrew and brothers James and John all left their nets. But what about the others? Simon the Zealot was either a member of an extremist political group who fought against the Roman occupation of Israel or a member of the religious group noted for zeal for the Law. He no doubt left his extreme views behind. But the only other disciple we’re told about specifically was Matthew (Levi). Jesus told him, “Follow me,” and Matthew got up and left his “tax collector’s booth” (his lucrative career) to follow Christ (9:9).