My Thoughts. . .
All four writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell us about Jesus approaching different apostles and saying, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19; 8:22; 9:9; Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27; John 1:43). Matthew tells about the call of Peter and Andrew. Mark and Luke mention the call of Matthew. John refers to Philip’s call. To those individuals Jesus said, “Follow me.” No argument nor objections are given by the twelve to Jesus. Peter does not say, “Let me first run home and tell my wife.” Maybe he did, but that is an assumption. Peter and Andrew are fishermen. Jesus saw them casting nets and said, “Come, follow me.” What did they do? Matthew states, “At once they left their nets and followed him” (v.20). What does “at once” mean?
If some stranger walked up to you while you are at work and said, “Come, follow me,” what would you do? Would you quit your work without giving a two-week notice and walk out? We would probably think it was a joke. We might think he was offering us a better job with more pay. Questions would flood our thoughts and flow easily from our mouth. Would you not want to know how much you were going to be paid to follow this man? What about retirement and medical benefits? If “Follow me” does not include a weekly check, how would you pay your mortgage? Where will money come from for your wife and/or children to buy groceries? If you were given time to go tell your wife about your new plans, how would you reveal that to your family? Maybe she needs to find work and be the new bread winner? All twelve of the apostles are walking away from family who will need someone to shoulder the responsibility you are walking away from.
When Jesus said, “Follow me,” did that mean drop everything and walk away NOW? Would he not give each man time to settle family responsibilities, find a substitute worker to take his place, or attempt to justify leaving job and family to follow an unknown preacher? Who walks off like that without discussing it with family?
If that is the picture inspiration wants us to see, has anyone other than the apostles actually done that? Do you feel that if your wife cannot take care of all the bills, that is her problem, not yours? Would you believe that you are following your faith and faith takes precedent over all earthly responsibilities? Is that really New Testament Christianity?
Scripture often gives us an event without supplying the details. For example, Jesus had been in Nazareth, but he had traveled to Galilee. The distance is about 14 miles. Did he travel with others are walk by himself? Matthew informs us that Jesus went to LIVE in Capernaum (Matthew 4:13, dwelt or settled). Live with who? Did he have relatives? Did he pay rent? Did he walk into someone’s home and announce that he was going to stay a few days and preach? We are told only that he fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2. What responses did he have? How many days was he there before he walked the shores of the Sea of Galilee? Verse 25 tells us “Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him” (v. 25). How large was this crowd? Did people from each of those places make up one huge crowd? These are details that are not supplied. We may assume different things to fill in those gaps. Yet, our assumptions are only guessing.
Curious people often desire answers, but when none are provided, there is a tendency to make our thoughts as weighty as scripture. Twenty-first century customs and culture were not first century ones. Today, a family member may work like a slave cleaning the house, but they are far from being a first century slave. Matthew and others were writing to people living in his time and culture, not those who are living today. Keep this in mind as you read the Bible. See the lesson that was being taught then and see if there is an application that also covers us in our time. May we all understand the importance of following Jesus.