Leaving It All Behind
by Jesse L. Smith
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Simon was an ordinary man working an ordinary job, and had little reason to believe that the rest of his life would be anything but ordinary. Of course for a hard working man with a wife and family to take care of, there really wasn’t much time to think about the future. Lately the business hadn’t been going very well, and that was the sole focus of his mind as he removed empty fishing nets from his boat on Lake Gennesaret. The night before had been a bitter failure, as he and his partners James and John worked through the entire night without catching a single fish. His thoughts thus occupied while washing the nets, he soon realized that an enormous crowd of people had begun to form around the shoreline. Looking into the crowd he quickly recognized the man Jesus standing in the midst and beginning to approach him.
This was not the first time Simon had encountered Jesus, as his younger brother Andrew had brought him to Jesus earlier. Andrew was convinced that he had found the Messiah and excitedly brought him to see whether this was the Christ. When Jesus saw Simon, he gave him a new name which meant “a rock.” Simon’s friends immediately started calling him by the new name given to him by Jesus, which was translated as Peter. Simon however wasn’t so deeply moved that any of this distracted him from the more important business of work.
Jesus passed by Simon and entered into his boat, and asked Simon to launch the boat away from the shore where he could address the people from a distance. After speaking to the people Jesus then told Simon to launch the boat into deeper waters and let down his net, where he would catch a great load of fish. Simon was already exhausted after a long night of fruitless labor, but out of respect for the Rabbi obeyed his word. When the net was lowered into the water it instantly swelled to its capacity by an enormous multitude of fish, and broke. Calling his partners James and John in their ship over to help, they began frantically to bring on board as many fish as possible – and both ships began to sink with the weight of the catch.
Looking on Simon suddenly realized that Jesus was much more than a Rabbi. All of his adult life Simon had placed his identity, security, and hope in the occupation that he believed provided for him. When Jesus came into his life none of this changed, as the teachings of Jesus would not put food on the table. All of this changed in an instant when Simon realized that this man Jesus was in Himself a source of provision far greater than what his trade could provide. Feeling foolish for having placed his trust in his occupation, Simon fell at the feet of Jesus and cried, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man O Lord.” –Luke 5:8 Jesus looked at Simon and said, “Fear not, from now on you will catch men.” Peter, James, and John then brought the boats to shore, and left everything behind to follow Jesus.
In order to follow Jesus, Peter had to choose between Jesus and the occupation that he had previously placed his hope in. Until Peter realized that Jesus had real power that was of great practical worth, he was not able to forsake the occupation that he trusted in. Many of us are a lot like Peter in that way, as Jesus has come into our lives and has given us a new identity, but we have not been able to fully surrender our lives to him. Like Peter, the reason for this is simply because we really don’t believe that Jesus can and will provide for our practical everyday needs. But the moment we realize that the power of Jesus is real, the things that we have previously put our trust in look foolish in comparison.
When Peter decided to leave everything behind and follow Jesus, he forsook an ordinary life for an amazing life whose influence is still felt thousands of years later. Concerning Peter and everyone else who leaves behind an old life to follow Him, Jesus said, “There is no man that has left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” –Mark 10:29-30
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