Accepting Our Mission

KEY VERSE: “When they had brought their ship to land, they forsook all, and followed him.” —Luke 5:11


IT MIGHT seem that Peter, James, and John were acting on a sudden impulse when they forsook all and followed Jesus. Other Gospel accounts, however, seem to indicate that they were formerly somewhat familiar with Jesus, and that their decision to become his disciples was not a spur of the moment thing.

Even this brief account by Luke indicates that it was more than just the miracle of the full net of fish which influenced them. On this occasion they had listened to Jesus speaking for quite some time, he having requested the use of Simon Peter’s boat from which to address the people. No doubt his subject was, “The Kingdom of Heaven Is At Hand.”

When he was finished he turned to Peter, who was in the boat, and spoke, asking him to go into deeper water and cast in his net. Peter, calling him Master even then, told Jesus how fruitless this would be. But he nevertheless consented. The miracle occurred and Peter and the other two who were with him were convinced that it was indeed the power of God which was made manifest in Jesus and now at his request they were ready to close out their fishing business and go to work for the Lord. What a wonderful example of following Jesus their lives became. Later the Master referred to their discipleship as ‘cross bearing’.

He made it plain that the only ones who could be his true followers were those willing to deny themselves and bear the cross. Jesus explained that those who did not love him even more than they loved this life were not worthy of him. These terms of discipleship laid down by the Master are very exacting. They are not the terms upon which mankind in general will eventually receive life through Christ, but are the conditions upon which, at the present time, one can be a true follower of Jesus.

Self-denial as taught by Jesus is not merely the giving up of certain good things to eat, or the foregoing of other pleasures of life. Rather it is the denial of self, a dedication to the Lord that is so complete and wholehearted that self is denied all rights to govern one’s life. It is the giving up completely of one’s own will and ways, and accepting the will of the Lord as the rule of life. It means a complete change of outlook in life, a transforming of the mind to conform to the will of God.

Cross-bearing signifies more than enduring unpleasant experiences. For one to take up his cross and follow Jesus signifies his willingness to suffer and to die with the Master. Those condemned to death under the Roman law carried their own cross to the place of crucifixion. For one to carry a cross, therefore, meant that he was on his way to death, and this is the symbolic meaning of Christian cross-bearing. As Jesus’ disciples we suffer and die with him.

Being a disciple of Christ, therefore, implies much more than living a moral and upright life. It means the dedication of one’s life to the cause of God as it is being carried out through Christ. It means a dedication to this cause that leads to the sacrifice of self and to all self interests. This is the Christian life.

But the life of sacrifice in the Christian cause has its compensations of peace and joy in the Lord which result from the assurance of having divine approval. This is a peace and joy which is based upon the knowledge that our loving Heavenly Father knows what is best for us, and causes all things to work together for our good.

There are also future compensations for those who faithfully lay down their lives walking in the footsteps of Jesus. The promise to these is that if they faithfully suffer and die with Jesus they will live and reign with him. The purpose of living and reigning with Christ is to share with him in extending the blessings of health and life to the remainder of the world of mankind, the blessings which he provided by his own death as the Redeemer and Savior of the world. The invitation to share in Jesus’ exaltation is described by Paul as “the prize of the high calling.”—Phil. 3:14

For over nineteen centuries, starting with the three disciples on the shore of Gennesaret, the call to follow Jesus and be prepared for future service in his kingdom has continued and will continue until the full number of a little flock has been selected for this glorious and blessed purpose.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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