The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.
Then Jesus said to them [Simon Peter and Andrew], “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. (Mk. 1:17-18)
When Jesus was walking along the Sea of Galilee, He saw two simple, unknown fishermen, Simon [Peter] and Andrew. Peter, the Rock, acknowledged Jesus as “The Christ, the Son of the living God”, yet he denied Him three times. Peter and Andrew were poor, uneducated fishermen. They were also determined, dedicated, and patient. When Jesus called them to “Come, follow Me,” a deep longing within their soul was met. Jesus’ call was to Himself, a call to life—a living, breathing person. Jesus did not call them to follow a written doctrine, nor did He call them to follow the religious leaders and their beliefs. The old traditions and ways could never fill the yearning deep within the heart of these, or any other men. Without hesitation, the fishermen abandoned their nets—their jobs, their ambitions—to join Jesus and model their life after Him. There would be trials to endure as they followed Jesus, fishing for men in a vast ocean of souls lost in ignorance and misery. They had their moments of shame. Peter fell asleep when he with Jesus at Gethsemane. Yet, he became a gifted preacher and bold leader to the Jews, Samaritans, and the Gentiles. He died upside down on a cross.
When Jesus calls, He is calling us to Himself. Peter shows us that to be part of Jesus’ inner circle, we will make mistakes even though our heart longs for a deep intimate fellowship with our Lord. Our flesh is always battling against the spirit, causing us to falter. While we may not quit our jobs, we must be willing to lay aside our nets, our ambitions, our world views, no longer working for our self-interest or financial gain. Jesus calls us to separate ourselves from the world and hold steadily to Him. Heeding the call of Jesus will always require sacrifice as we struggle to align ourselves with that quiet, gentle, persistent voice deep within our souls to “Follow Me”.
Jesus descended from heaven to earth to call you to Himself. Will you turn to Him, fixing your eyes and heart on the cross? Is the flame that once burned bright within your soul being snuffed out by the cares of this world? Today would be the perfect day to renew your commitment to follow Jesus. That deep longing in your soul can and will be met when you decide to lay aside your worldly desires and interests. Let today be the day to set “The world behind me, the cross before me; no turning back, no turning back.”