I mean, why on earth did Peter say yes?
Matthew chapter four tells us that Peter and his brother Andrew were fishing. It was their job. We know that Peter was an average kind of guy. He had a home, friends, and a family. We also know that Peter was married because Jesus heals his mother-in-law in Luke chapter four. He's married and he has a job, a home, a wife, a family, and friends. All reasons to say no.
I think I would have said no. I have a wife and a daughter. I have a job. I have a home and family and friends. Why would I leave all of that to follow some teacher on his preaching tour all over the country?
I get so confused when I read this story in Matthew as Peter just gets up and follows Jesus. He leaves everything behind to follow and learn from this teacher he had only heard about and never met. Why would a man do such a thing? Why would he leave his job, family, home, and life behind to chase after Jesus? I think it bothers me so much, because I would have missed this shot. I would have said no.
I'm convinced of two things.
First, I'm convinced that Peter had a longing for something more. Peter had the marriage. He had the career. He had the "ideal" life that we all strive for. Why would he leave it to follow a stranger? Because like many of us, he couldn't shake the feeling that something was missing. Was this all there was to life? Wasn't there something more? These are the questions that gnaw at us all and lead us to buy a corvette or some other crazy thing we dismiss as a mid-life crisis. He may not have known it, but I think Peter had a deep longing for God in his life. You may not know it either, but I think you do too. Have you been chasing the ideal life? Are you satisfied with it? Or are you left with an emptiness, wondering you've spent all of your time chasing things that for some reason don't seem to be satisfying your soul?
Second, I'm convinced that Peter recognized the God opportunity that was in front of him that day. I'm not sure how, but Peter saw that this was his chance to find the meaning and purpose he was aching for. He didn't know exactly who Jesus was, but he knew at the very least that Jesus was a teacher who loved God. He saw the opportunity and he left everything to take it.
Later, Jesus becomes incredibly famous and even popular. He travels all over performing miracles and kind of becomes a rock star celebrity in His day. Peter is no doubt enjoying this incredible chance to be in the spotlight with Jesus. Jesus even draws in a crowd of over ten thousand people one day as He preaches. But it doesn't last long. Jesus begins teaching some really tough things. He begins telling the people that He has come down from heaven and that He is the bread of life. He basically begins telling people that He is God and they must follow Him to live and be saved. The people were happy to follow when Jesus was performing tricks and healing people and feeding them by multiplying a little boy's lunch. They were happy to follow Him when He taught them things like blessed are the poor and love your neighbor. But things changed when He started telling people they need to obey Him and live for Him.
The crowds leave Jesus in John 6. Jesus looks to the twelve disciples and asks if they want to leave Him too. It wasn't a whole lot of fun to follow Jesus anymore. And He was starting to ask a lot from them. Peter's response is amazing.
Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. -- John 6:68.
Where could Peter have gone if He left Jesus? Let's see. Back to his wife and family. Back to his friends. Back to his home. Back to his career. He had a lot to go back to. But Peter has realized that none of that satisfies. None of that fills his soul. Peter knew the life Jesus was calling him to would be fun sometimes and tough others. But he knew there was only one place he could find purpose in his life. There was only one thing he had been longing for all of his life. He had found it. Rather, he had found Him. Jesus held the life he was looking for. Peter would follow. Peter would leave everything else behind to follow Jesus. Peter would follow Jesus even if no one else did. Peter would follow til the day he died.
I don't think I would have said yes to the teacher I had never met asking me to follow Him if I were in Peter's sandals two thousand years ago. I might have missed that God opportunity. But, like Peter, I have tried what this world has to offer and found myself longing for more. And I have tasted the life that Jesus has to offer and realized there is nowhere else to turn to find what I'm looking for in life.
How about you? Have you been longing for something more? Are you tired of chasing the "ideal life" only to find yourself unsatisfied still? You're unsatisfied because you're looking for so much more than a career, home, money, or family could offer. You're longing for God. Like Peter, there is a God opportunity before you today as you read this. Jesus is standing before you, holding out His hand, and saying, "Come and follow me." He is not calling you to a life that will always be filled with fun or glamour He is calling you to a life that will sometimes be tough and mean leaving behind many of the things this world has to offer. But He is calling you to the only place you can find satisfaction for your soul. He is calling you to Himself. To relationship with the God who loves you. Whether you've been a Christian for 40 years or have never taken Jesus seriously, will you take the God opportunity before you today? Will you follow Jesus and see where He leads you? What do you have to lose? Where else can you go?
Let the words of Mark Altrogge's One Pure and Holy Passion stir your heart.
Give me on magnificent obsession
Give me one glorious ambition for my life
To know and follow hard after You
To know and follow hard after you
To grow as your dicsiple in your truth
This world is empty, pale, and poor
Compared to knowing you, my Lord
Lead me on and I will run after you
Lead me on and I will run after you