Witness

STRAIGHTWAY THEY LEFT

Mt 4:20 And they straightway left [their] nets, and followed him.

 

The cover depicts Jesus calling his disciples, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother. The Bible states they straightway left [their] nets, and followed him." The  translation "straightway left" from the Greek "eutheos" (yoo-theh'-oce) "aphiemi" (af-ee'-ay-mee)" meant they immediately forsook what they were doing in order to follow Christ Jesus.

There is a spirit of dedication shown here which is often ignored by modern scholarship, content in their riches and positions. Jesus disciples didn't sit down and weigh the cost but for a moment for they fully understood the maxim Jesus later expressed:

     Lu 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Jesus, with these words, was possibly remembered the dedication of Elisha upon his being called:

     1Ki 19:16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint [to be] king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint [to be] prophet in thy room.

     1Ki 19:19-21 So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who [was] plowing [with] twelve yoke [of oxen] before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him. 20 And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and [then] I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee? 21 And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.

Elisha burnt his bridges behind him. There was no turning back. There was no looking back.

     Ps 119:60 I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.

     Heb 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if [any man] draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

I pondered whether my faith, my dedication, would be deep enough that I would forsake everything to follow Jesus:

     Lu 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Will we be a "disciple of Jesus" by forsaking everything: family, home, possessions?  And yet, without a calling to forsake for, how can one follow Jesus. Obviously, Jesus isn't out walking through the holy land somewhere bidding us to follow him. Yet, these words of Jesus go well beyond just a mental attitude or exercise into an actual forsaking of the things of this world regardless of calling. They aren't hyperbole, embellishment for the sake of emphasis. They culminate in action the attitude of faith which is dead without works.

I had thought about such for some time. I thought perhaps if I sold everything and gave the proceeds to the poor then perhaps the only thing I would have accomplished is I would become poorer than the poor I gave the proceeds to. They would go around enjoying my stuff and I would go around with a stupid look on my face. And then, where would I go. Jesus is sitting on the right hand of the Father up in Heaven.  Should I then wander over the country side as did Jesus? Such teachers as Jesus and his disciples were accepted during their day and taken into homes and treated with hospitality. Today, one that travels around like such is a bum. Lower than a hobo.  He gets to sleep in doorways and on park benches and gets told to move on by the police. So how in the world could one put Jesus' words into practice?

My solution was to place everything I owned "on the altar" as a sacrifice unto God realizing that all put there was His and could and likely would be taken from me. To that, God replied, "And your family?" After some consideration of the cost, I placed my family there realizing all was well in His hands. And from there He took all. He took my business. He took my income. He took my home. He took my cars. He took my family.

From there He has provided enough for me to acquire a very old RV trailer and a vehicle to pull it with. And He provided for me to live in a little RV park up in Tennessee. I miss my parents and my wife who sleep in Christ. But I'm a bit jealous too because they are where I would desire to be for this world is not my home -- I'm just passing through. 

If anything, I've learned that the riches of this world are deceitful. Scholars would hold onto the slim thread of "with God all things are possible" while utilizing a hydraulic ram and a winch to manage the poor camel through the its highly greased eye. That's how one makes hash. There are those that live God's word: they are called disciples. There are those that ponder God's word: they are called scholars. In Jesus day scholars were called Pharisees and Scribes. They couldn't and wouldn't do it, but they could tell everybody else how to, and on top of that most were a bunch of hypocrites and liars. Today, many such scholars are theologians and pastors and doctors and such and have incomes and wealth and would teach anything but the forsaking of any of their possessions.

     Lu 18:24-30 And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said,How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 26 And they that heard [it] said, Who then can be saved? 27 And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. 28 Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. 29 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, 30 Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.

NOTE: The meaning of Luke 18:30 can only be understood in the context of the "hastening of the kingdom." Jesus is saying the disciples would be recompensed when they reign with Christ Jesus in the millennium (the thousand year reign of Christ) at the present time (if it had been hastened) and in the new kingdom following the millennium.

 

Copyright 2001 by Dennis Allen Briggs (Gad)

 

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