And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (20) And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.” (Matthew 4:19-20)
In these verses of Scripture, we see an act of obedience to the invitation (really a command) of Christ by the two fishermen, Simon Peter and Andrew his brother, to be followers (disciples) of Christ. “And they straightway left their nets and followed him.” Now we must understand that these men were not fishing for sport. This was their job, their occupation, the means by which they supported their families. And yet, they left their occupation to follow Jesus; this is truly an act of faith, which proves that God had worked grace in their hearts. (See Phil. 2:13.)
If Jesus were to call you or me from our occupation, family, friends, and all that we know, to come and follow Him – would we come up with excuses as to why we cannot follow Him?
Let’s look at some examples of excuses. These examples will show that a disciple (or a follower) of Christ, a possessor of eternal life, is manifested by their Master and their first love being Christ and not family, wealth, or anything else.
A. First Example:
Matthew 8:21-22 “(21) And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. (22) But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.”
Now let us not think that Jesus is being insensitive to this disciple concerning his father, for this is far from the truth. When we make the conscious decision to follow Christ, we must do so, come what may. The troubles and cares of this life can hinder us from following Jesus, if we are not careful. Therefore, we must be like Mary who hath chosen that good part; than to be like Martha who was careful and troubled about many things (see Luke 10:38-42).
B. Second Example:
Another example would be the rich young ruler. This rich young ruler wanted to know what good deed he could do that he may have eternal life. (Make note: eternal life is not acquired by man’s deeds; but by Eternal Life Himself, Jesus Christ (I John 5:20).) Jesus replied, Matthew 19:16-21:
“(16) And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? Jesus replied, telling him of a few things he should keep. (17) And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: (Christ was revealing to the young ruler that He Christ, was God in the Flesh) but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. (18) He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, (19) Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (20) The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? (21) Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect (that is, if I live in you; then prove it) go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”
However, Matthew 19:22 says, “But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” Jesus was not teaching that the keeping of the Law allowed you into eternal life (see Gal. 2:16); but was revealing to the young ruler that those who possess eternal life are those who love God above everything; that is above wealth, family, self, etc. The young ruler realized that he in fact did not love God more than his material possessions; so he went away sorrowful.
(Matthew 19:23-24) “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. (24) And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God”
(Jesus said Matthew 19:23-24 to show that being a possessor of eternal life in Christ is not by the merits of men, but upon the Grace of God worked in a man by way of regeneration by the Holy Spirit. Until this happens in a person, they will choose self first, over Christ. This was the choice of the rich young ruler).
What a great opportunity missed, all because of earthly treasures. This young ruler missed out on incorruptible treasures in heaven to hold onto the corruptible treasures where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break through and steal. (See Matthew 19:22; 6:19-21.)
Check out your daily choices: are you choosing Christ above all things? Your choices are indicators as to what or who you love first: Self or Christ.
When it comes to our soul salvation, what matters most? Is it our family, our occupation; or maybe it is the treasures we have stored here on earth? Whatever it may be, it is not worth missing our soul salvation; for there are a lot of distractions in this world – but regardless to these distractions, we must follow Jesus; for it is He who has the words of eternal life.