Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth.”
Psalm 60: 4
“My cloud of battle-dust may dim,
His veil of splendor curtain Him;
And, in the midnight of my fear,
I may not feel Him standing near;
But, as I lift mine eyes above,
His banner over me is love.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Then said Jesus unto His disciples, ‘If any man (or woman) will come after Me.”
Matthew 16: 24
“Come After Me”
“There is no discovery of the truth of Christ’s teaching, no unanswerable inward endorsement of it, without committing oneself to His way of life.”
J. B. Phillips
If I had been on earth when Jesus lived here and He had said to me, “Come after Me,” would I have followed His call?
Am I following God’s calling in my life today?
“When I came to believe in Christ’s teaching, I ceased desiring what I had wished for before. The direction of life, my desires, became different. What was good and bad had changed places.”
Count Leo Tolstoy
“The responsible person seeks to make his or her whole life a response to the question and call of God.”
We don’t know the exact day or what the weather report was in Galilee, but we do know one thing for certain, it was a great day for going fishing on the Sea of Galilee. How do we know this? It is because two very experienced fishermen were out “casting” their nets. In Matthew 4: 18, we find this record:
“As (Jesus) was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He noticed two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, throwing a dragnet into the sea, for they were fishermen. And (Jesus) said to them, ‘Come after Me (as disciples – letting Me be your Guide), follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men!”(Matthew 4: 18, 19, Amplified Bible).
I’ve read this story, as portrayed by many Christian writers, who have labeled this event as the, “call-by-the-sea.” You can put any name you may wish on this interaction, but I like the way the Greek translation helps us better understand, not only Jesus intent, but His longing to have Peter and Andrew respond to His call. The Greek word for “come,” as used in this passage of Scripture has several meanings, but there are four specific words which I find completely applicable to this situation as well as in the subsequent lives of the two men, who we are told in Matthew 4: 20, “At once left their nets and became (Jesus’) disciples.” This is how The Message Bible expanded my thoughts on Matthew 4: 18-20:
“Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, ‘Come with Me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass’ They didn’t ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed.”
I love the words “simply dropped.” It wasn’t that these two followers of Jesus became irresponsible, lazy, loafers. Instead, they accepted Jesus’ invitation because they chose to transfer their dependency from their own human endeavors to a dependency on Jesus and His guidance in their lives. This is why I want to look closely at the four words the Greek uses to define the word, “come.”
First is the word “accompany.” The dictionary defines accompany in this way: “To go with as a companion.” All I can say to this is, “WOW!” To be called a companion of Jesus when I choose to come to Him – what a blessing for each of us. But there is another meaning to accompany which really enlightened my thoughts. To accompany also means to “supplement” and I’d like to give you two very practical examples. One comes from the field of music, which I understand well, for during my many years of playing the piano, I frequently “accompanied” other individuals who sang or played a musical instrument. It didn’t take me long to recognize that the job of a skilled accompanist was not to be the “star” or “focus” of the musical number. Instead, it was to enhance the beauty of the performance by letting the vocalist or instrumentalist become the focal point. Then, for those of you who love cooking and hear professionals in the field of culinary excellence discussing the layout of a plate of edibles, you may hear professionals refer to the “accompaniments” which enhance the main course which is being served, be it vegetables or salad or some other food element, as an item which helps to highlight the entrée. In functional terms, one who accompanies serves to highlight their companion. This is what you and I should do when we answer Jesus’ call to follow Him or be His companion. Our focus is to bring glory to Jesus.
And this brings me to the second meaning of the Greek word “come” as applied to Matthew 4: 18-19, which is “enter.” What a descriptive way to describe what happened in the lives of Simon Peter and Andrew when they left their nets and followed Jesus. By “coming” along with Jesus, they entered into a new life – a new path – and a new mission.
It was with a new mission and purpose in their lives where we find that the third word used in the Greek for “come,” becomes relevant -- and it is the word “light.” By accompanying Jesus, these two individuals entered a world, filled by the brilliant “light” of Jesus’ love.
Finally, the fourth word used to define “come” is to grow. This is exactly what happens in the life of every person who makes the decision to accept the call to “come” to Jesus and accompany Him. They enter into a new life filled with heaven’s light which fosters daily spiritual growth in each of our lives. It was Simon Peter, himself, who near the end of his life, a life which was lived following Jesus, ended his writings recorded in the books of I and II Peter, with this reminder to us that by accompanying our Saviour and Friend Jesus Christ we will, “Grow in grace (undeserved favor, spiritual strength) and recognition and knowledge and understanding of our Lord, Christ the Messiah” (II Peter 3: 18).
Just as Peter and Andrew followed the call of Jesus when He met them on the beach along the shore of Galilee, so today, this same call comes to you and me, wherever we are and whatever we are doing, “Come, please accompany Me. Please be My companion.” What will our answer be?
I love the way one of my favorite Christian poets puts into words the invitation from Jesus to you and me today.
“Jesus says, ‘Come, follow Me.’
‘Lord, You’re calling the wrong person.
I’m not the following type.
It takes me all my time to stand
on my own two feet.’
And He says, ‘I love you.”
‘Now, don’t get me wrong, Lord.
I do all I can within reason,
But I can’t afford to go overboard.
I mean, I have to live in this world.’
And He says, ‘I love you.’
‘It’s all very well to talk about love,
but love is dangerous.
It can get people crucified.
At the best it can be misunderstood.
If I go round telling people I love them,
someone’s going to lock me up.’
And He says, ‘I love you.’
‘The trouble is. I’m not ready.
Come back in a few years
when I’ve got my life sorted out.
By then I should have something
to offer You.’
And He says, ‘I love you.’
‘Lord, don’t look at me like that.
You’re making it very difficult.
All right I’ll spell it out.
I’m a sinner. I’d let You down.
I’d give my life to You
and then try to take it back again.
I’m weak, Lord.’
And He says, ‘I love you.’
‘You don’t understand what I’m telling You.
I’d deny You and betray You.
There’d be times when I’d crucify You.
And what would You think of me then?’
And He says, ‘I love you.’”
Jesus Calls Us
“Jesus calls us; o’er the tumult
Of our life’s wild, restless sea,
Day by day, His sweet voice soundeth,
Saying, ‘Christian, follow Me.’
Jesus calls us from the worship
Of the vain world’s golden store,
From each idol that would keep us,
Saying, ‘Christian, love Me more.’
In our joys and in our sorrows,
Days of toil and hours of ease,
Still He calls, in cares and pleasures,
‘Christian, love Me more than these.’
Jesus calls us! By Thy mercies,
Saviour, may we hear Thy call,
Give our hearts to Thy obedience,
Serve and love Thee best of all.”
Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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