Those who encounter Jesus are changed by Jesus! In Matthew and John’s accounts, at least 7 people have an encounter with Jesus, and in each person’s case that encounter transformed their lives forever.
Simon & Andrew were fishermen. Fishing and sea was their livelihood, it was what they did. They didn’t wake each morning wondering what to do, this was their income, it was even their defining identity. But with just one encounter, hearing Jesus’ compelling and challenging words; “follow me” they immediately left their nets, left their livelihood, left their identities as fishermen all in order to respond to Jesus.
Shortly thereafter, their business partners (James & John) similarly hear Jesus’ call to follow Him, and Scripture says that immediately they too left their nets, their identity, even their father and their servants (Mark 1:19) all to follow Jesus. Luke records summarily, “they left everything and followed Him” (Luke 5:11).
The Gospel accounts don’t record much conversation really. And yet Jesus was so compelling that when He called them to follow Him, they answered and they did so wholeheartedly! Jesus redefined each of these four men. They had been ‘doers’, fishermen, defined by their work. Now they were in an instant defined as ‘followers’ of Jesus, new lives, new identity…
What did they encounter in Jesus that caused this reaction?
John’s account of the same events is full of revelation. John exclaims; “Behold the Lamb of God” (John 1:35). John in that moment has truly seen who the real Jesus is. Having spent some time with Jesus, Andrew finds his brother exclaiming; ‘we have found the Messiah’ (vs41), likewise Philip finds Nathanael and says in effect; ‘we’ve found the one the whole Law and the Prophets speak of – the Messiah’ (vs45) and Nathanael himself cries out; “Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (vs49). All these people encountered the real Jesus, the King of kings, the Messiah, the got it in those moments…
Those who encounter Jesus are changed by Jesus!
None of them are left unchanged. Jesus changes their vocations, their identities, their relationships even their names! Following Jesus must have been exhilarating yes but it also came at with a high cost, with risk even. All these people have to leave things, people, what they knew for the unknown of following Jesus. They all paid a price in some way or another, and we too will be called to leave or let go at times as we follow Jesus.
Following Jesus was costly, following Jesus came with misunderstanding from others (imagine the thoughts, feelings and questions of the father of James and John’s, imagine their families, those who worked with them and those who knew them as fishermen…), and yet they never regretted it for a moment!
Those who truly encounter Jesus are transformed by Jesus. In fact if your life is not being transformed, if you haven’t felt the call to leave certain things behind, you have to ask whether you’ve met the real Jesus yet?
Ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you again and again, in all His glory and majesty.
Hear His words to you; “Follow me”.
What do those words require from you right now today, at this moment in your life?
Is there anything you need to leave behind in order to follow Jesus wholeheartedly?