And passing along by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishers.
And Jesus said unto them, “Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.”
And straightway they left the nets, and followed him. And going on a little further, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending the nets. And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after him (Mark 1:16-20).
And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the place of toll, and he saith unto him, “Follow me.”
And he arose and followed him (Mark 2:14).
For Simon, Andrew, James, John, and Levi, it seemed like a usual day. They went to work as they always had. Everything was normal. The fishing for Simon, Andrew, James, and John was probably little different than usual. Levi probably had a usual day at the tax booth.
And then, out of nowhere, everything changed.
They had, no doubt, heard of Jesus of Nazareth, and the mighty works which He had done. They would have heard the whisperings and suggestions: is this the Messiah who is to come? Are God’s promises finally coming true? The prospect was, no doubt, exciting. But these were simple fishermen and a tax collector– what could the Messiah want with them?
And yet, here He is– and He summons them. He tells Simon and Andrew that He will make them fishers of men. He summons James and John and Levi with a clear and simple message– follow Me.
The call was uttered, and it was heard– what would these men do? Simon and Andrew have their own fishing business. James and John work for their father. Levi is the one manning the toll booth. They have responsibilities– Levi to Herod, James and John to their father, and Simon, if to no one else, his wife (cf. Mark 1:30). How would they survive? What about those for whom they are responsible?
These and perhaps other questions might have been on the minds of these five men. Yet notice their decisive actions– they get up and follow Him. Simon and Andrew leave their net as it is. James and John abandon their work to their father and his hired servants. Levi rises and leaves, perhaps leaving the toll booth empty. There is no hesitancy here and no looking back. The Lord has summoned them, and they follow the call, no matter where it may lead them.
Jesus would ultimately die on a cross for the forgiveness of sins, be raised in power on the third day, and ascend to the Father, where He now rules as Lord (cf. Matthew 26:29, Acts 1:1-11, Acts 2:38). His summons now goes out to every person on earth through His Gospel: follow Me (cf. Mark 16:15, Romans 1:16, 1 Timothy 2:4)!
The call has been uttered. Do you now hear it? You may stop and think about all of your obligations, all of the things that you may hold dear on the earth, and consider the many possible difficulties and dangers of the life of a disciple of Christ. You are not alone in those concerns. Nevertheless, we ought to have the same faith as Simon, Andrew, James, John, and Levi. We should rise up immediately and follow Jesus!
Jesus may not be calling you to leave your occupation, family obligations, and other such things as He did to these disciples, but He does call you to set aside the ways of sin and death in order to be conformed to His image, walking the path that He walked (Romans 6:1-10, Romans 8:29, 1 John 2:6). That will require leaving behind our old ways of thinking, our old attitudes, and many of our old habits. That will more likely than not be uncomfortable. It certainly requires faith.
Simon, Andrew, James, John, and Levi took that fateful step of faith on that day so long ago, and in earthly terms, many of them would pay dearly for it. Simon and James would eventually die for the cause of Christ, and John would suffer persecution for Jesus. Their eternal reward, however, far outweighed the difficulties they experienced on earth (Romans 8:18), and that same reward can be ours if we will take a similar step of faith.
Jesus calls you to follow Him. Will you renounce the ways of the world and serve Him today?
Ethan R. Longhenry