Many years ago, I accepted an offer from a headhunter to interview for a job in Florida. At that stage in my life, I was a full partner with my former pathology group. My wife also had an established pediatric dental practice. We had two young children in elementary school and my son had special needs. If I were to take another job, it would need to adequately compensate me for the income of my current job, my wife’s lost income, giving up her dental practice, and finding schools that would address the needs of my children. Ultimately, I turned down the offer since it would not adequately address all of these concerns. There was too much at stake and I did not want to hurt my family.
Thousands of years ago, a man with a family was offered an opportunity to leave everything behind to follow an itinerant teacher. What was his decision?
Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He *said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
Matthew 4:18-20 (NASB)
And just like that, Peter became a disciple of Jesus Christ. For the next three years, he would live and learn from the living God, the Messiah. This is a wonderful and inspiring story, except for one thing. Who took care of Peter’s wife? The Bible informs us that Peter was married when he became a disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus even healed his mother-in-law at the beginning of His ministry. Peter was a fisherman and had a younger brother, Andrew, who was also a fisherman. Yet, both Peter and Andrew joined Jesus as disciples. Who provided for Peter’s wife and his family? The Bible does not give us any insight into this. Presumably, Peter still remained a fisherman and during any possible free time, would fish to provide for his family. Or perhaps he took another job. Perhaps he was supported by donations to Jesus and His followers. The Bible is silent on this.
I frequently ponder this because I don’t think I could do what Peter did. It was a different time when Jesus walked this earth. Yet, the issues that families faced were very similar to today. Someone had to provide for lost income to the family. There were issues for schooling the children. The geographical location of their home was important for a network of support. While the Bible does not tell us what happened, we have to assume that Peter’s family, and the families of the other disciples, were properly cared for and stable.
What if Jesus asked me to move and leave everything like He asked Peter? Would I be able to do it for Jesus? If, like Peter and the rest of the disciples, I do not drop everything to follow Jesus, is my faith not genuine? Is my faith feeble and small? What is the cost of following Jesus?
If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?
Luke 14:26-28 (NASB)
These are difficult and challenging words that Jesus presents to those who desire to follow Him. Jesus honored the sanctity of marriage and the family; it would be difficult to conclude that He was insensitive to the needs of the families of His disciples. Jesus recognized and embraced the issues of life that all of us face and directly addressed them.
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.
Matthew 6:25-29 (NASB)
We can be confident that God provided for the families of the disciples and for all His followers who place their faith in Him. He does not dismiss these concerns but refocuses our heart to understand the true cost of following Him. What is the answer that Jesus gives?
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:33-34 (NASB)
Is my faith too small? I still struggle with these statements of Jesus Christ. We all make sacrifices to follow Jesus Christ. Yet, my sacrifices pale in comparison to the millions of people around the world who sacrifice everything to follow Jesus Christ. In some countries, Christianity is banned, and the mere mention of it can be punished by imprisonment and/or death. Accepting Jesus Christ leads to ostracism from their own family, even from their own spouses and children.
When I meditate upon these challenging words of Jesus, I lament how small my faith is. How desperately I need my Lord and Savior for His grace and mercy in my life. I pray that all who are seeking God, focus upon His kingdom and righteousness. The issues of life will fall into place once we place God first in our lives. We can trust His promises because He sealed them with His own life. He was rejected by His family. He was betrayed by His friends. He was scorned by His own people. In spite of this, Jesus knew that God, the Father, would provide for Him. He knew that if He remained faithful, God would be glorified. Jesus would never ask anything of us that He has not already done Himself.
May we all be encouraged by the faith of our Living God, Jesus Christ.
Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.