They Forsook All

Fishing was their livelihood. It put food on their table and a roof over their heads (Mark 1:29)./1 Fishing “paid the bills.” But these two brothers quit their boats and nets and immediately followed Jesus (Mark 1:18).

Remember also that Simon and Andrew not only left their jobs, but their families as well (Mark 1:30; cf. Matthew 19:27; 1 Corinthians 9:5). It was kind of like being in the army reserves and receiving a call to serve in Iraq (cf. 2 Timothy 2:4). The brothers were already acquainted with Jesus (cf. John 1:35-42; 2:1; 2:13, 17, 22; 3:22; 4:1-27, 31, 43-45; Luke 5:1ff), but some time later He summoned them to active, permanent duty (cf. Luke 22:28).

Vocation. Close relatives. Simon and Andrew walked away from both. “So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him” (Luke 5:11; cf. Genesis 12:1). Read those words again slowly. Let them sink down into your heart. …They forsook all…

Would you quit your job at a moment’s notice? Would you close your business on an impulse, pack your bags, and then bid farewell to your loved ones for an undisclosed length of time? No? Simon Peter and Andrew did.

Now stay with me for a moment. Don’t get lost.

Could this be why some of us never set and attain genuine New Year’s resolutions? Could this be why many are unwilling to pursue real change in their lives? Could this be why goals are often little more than lofty “pie-in-the-sky” wishes? You see, following Jesus means leaving certain things behind (cf. Mark 10:28; Luke 5:28; 18:28).

It means forsaking our nets and walking away from the lazy comfort of the status quo. For children of God, it means constantly changing our “spiritual street address” (cf. 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18) and venturing into unknown territory (cf. Hebrews 11:8). For Simon and Andrew it meant surrendering familial bonds, shutting down their “seafood restaurant” and living out of their suitcases (Luke 9:3). It’s one thing to do a weekend gospel meeting in another state; it’s another thing entirely to become a full-time, traveling missionary. Where would they sleep at night?/2

How would their meals be provided? There were no welfare programs to help the brothers find housing during their “tour of duty” in Palestine. The Roman government certainly didn’t offer food stamps to itinerant Jewish preachers. They couldn’t depend on monthly social security checks to “make ends meet”. They just left; …they forsook ALL…?

Maybe that’s why so many of us shun the opportunities afforded by the new year. Maybe we reject the promise of self-improvement and growth because 1) resolutions require legitimate change?i.e., leaving, 2) change means uncertainty, and 3) uncertainty scares us.

The fear of the unknown is so paralyzing that we never leave our boats and nets for the real “trophy catch” (Phillipians 3:13-14):

  • Starting and maintaining a regular exercise program demands self-discipline (i.e., sweaty exercise sessions, calisthenics, etc.). Uncertainty whispers, “What if I fail and even gain more weight”?
  • Curbing a hot temper requires much more than an empty promise at the start of January. Fear inquires, “What happens if, in a moment of weakness, I lose it again? Then what??
  • Learning to teach an adult auditorium Bible class means leaving the quiet confines of a padded pew and standing in front of people who sometimes know more Scripture than we do (cf. Hebrews 5:12-14).

Are we really willing to “forsake all” in the interest of the maturation of our faith (Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 3:12-15; 2 Peter 1:5-11) and the good pleasure of our heavenly Father?

What about you, dear Christian? Are YOU willing to forsake all? Can you, like Simon and Andrew, leave your nets and boats and step out in faith for the journey ahead?

The calendar says Thursday, January 1, 2004. I urge you to leave–immediately.

All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.
All to Jesus I surrender, humbly at His feet I bow;
Worldly pleasures all forsaken, take me, Jesus, take me now.
All to Jesus I surrender, Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power, let Thy blessings fall on me.
I surrender all, I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.

1/ See John MacArthur, “Peter,” Twelve Ordinary Men, 37.
2/ Hospitality was a sacred duty in this NT culture.

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