The year is the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar (That is about 25 AD to those living in the 21st century). You have been living under Roman rule your whole life. Your parents have spent most of their lives under Roman oppression. As you sit in your fishing boat you can recall stories from your grandparents about what it was like to not have the Roman’s around every corner. You can also recall the stories they would share from the Law and the Prophets that promised a Messiah would come. This Messiah would destroy the rulers of the day and establish his kingdom upon the earth. Why just this past Sabbath as you gathered with the rest of the Jews at the local synagogue they read from the scroll of Daniel. As Daniel interpreted the dream of Nebuchadnezzar and told of 5 different kingdoms. The 1st was that of Babylon, the head of gold. Daniel identified the 2nd as the Medes and the Persians. We all know that the Greeks and Alexander the Great would later be prophesied about as arising after the Medes and the Persians. This left the Romans. During the days of the Roman empire God would establish His kingdom. As you sit there contemplating what that means you are filled with a since of excitement. You know Roman rule won’t last forever. Eventually Caesar’s power would be now more. You wouldn’t dare talk about it around the soldiers but you know it can’t be long. As you are about to finish mending your nets, you see Peter and Andrew, fellow fishermen on the Sea of Galilee talking to a young man. They cease repairing their nets and cast off back into the sea. This strikes you as odd. It is a little late in the day to be catching fish. As you watch their ridiculous efforts you see something amazing. They can’t pull their nets back into the boat. You hear them call for the sons of Zebedee, other fishermen on the sea. The two brothers immediately row their boats out and begin helping them bring in this catch. You can’t just sit there anymore. You drop your nets and begin walking to where they should make it to shore. As you approach the area you can see that both boats are sinking from the weight of the fish. You in all your years here at the sea have never witnessed anything like this. As they finally get to shore, Peter drops to the young man’s feet and says, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord (Luke 5:8).” What happened next, you won’t soon forget. This young man looked at Peter and Andrew and said, “Follow me.” Then, turning to James and John, he said, “Follow me.” All four of them left this catch of a lifetime just sitting there as this young man began walking away from the shore. Never in all your years have you seen such a catch, and never in all your years have you seen someone just walk away from their pay day. In the months to come, rumors start swirling around concerning this young man you first saw by the Sea of Galilee. Over the next couple of years you hear a few of his sermons, you have not only heard of numerous rumors concerning his healings, you have witnessed first had what he could do. But by the 3rd year you know the Pharisees have had their fill of him. No one mentions his name in the synagogues anymore (out of fear). And in the spring, he is put to death on the cross. The hope of that man usurping Roman rule is over. Many are devastated. The best chance of freedom was over. You were ready to follow him into battle if it meant those unclean Romans were no longer around.
And then something amazing happened. The word out of Jerusalem, 50 days after he died, was that this man was still alive. Someone how he rose from the dead. Numerous people, more than 500 have allegedly testified to the fact that they had seen this “savior.” Your former companions, Peter, Andrew, James and John are among them. But they aren’t the same. They are changed. They aren’t just fishermen any more. They speak with authority, understand things that confound the chief priests. It is truly remarkable what has happened to those men over since they first forsook all. And now, you are wondering how much better your life would be if you too just followed him.
This is a challenge we all must face. When Jesus calls for us to follow it does not mean that our lives will always be easier (there are trials). It does not mean that all will revere you (all but one of the apostles were put to death). But it does mean that your life can be changed. Andrew went from bringing in the fish, to bringing in the men. Peter went from boldly speaking foolish words, to boldly speaking the truth. And you, you can go from lost, alien sinner to beloved son or daughter.
What must you do? Forsake all and follow Jesus. It is not an easy task. For some of us, we have to cut off our friendships. Others may have to tell Mom and Dad that they no longer can engage in Sunday morning brunches. Others may need to leave their jobs. Some may need to leave their spouses sitting on the couch watching the game. But, it is worth it. Just listen to the words of one he has already given up so much. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ (Phil. 3:4).”
Grinnell church of Christ
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Volume 5 Issue 7