How to Grow in Your Devotion to Jesus
What is it that has the power to restore and renew the commitment of a dropout disciple?
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. — Mark 1:16-20
Rabbinical training took place in ancient Israel when a teacher would invite students into a unique relationship of life and training.
The disciples’ aim was not only to learn the content of the rabbi’s message but also to imitate the rabbi’s life. It was instruction by immersion that demanded total dedication to the process. For such resolve, one had to believe the outcome would be worth the investment.
James and John were in the family fishing business. They were not rich but made a living. The same was true for Simon and Andrew.
What would cause them to give up their livelihood and walk away from financial and familial security?
They weren’t hypnotized or under a spell. The men were willing to follow this peasant preacher because they had some expectation that he was special. Maybe they couldn’t put their finger on it. But they had a sense that giving it all up for Jesus would be worth it.
They were committed.
However, as the biblical records reveals, Jesus’ disciples are not the heroes of Mark’s gospel. Not even close. We know that their commitment would sputter and flat line. When the pressure of discipleship reached an apex, every one of Jesus’ discipled fled, leaving him to face trail and execution alone.
The original disciples who proclaimed such early commitment became discipleship dropouts.
Then something happened to these and the other followers of Jesus.
Rather than denying Jesus, they stood up and boldly proclaimed him as the crucified, risen, and reigning King. For most of them, commitment to Jesus led to their own deaths.
They witnessed the commitment of Jesus to them.
By taking on flesh, Jesus locked himself into an unalterable course of action. His options were limited, and freedom of choice restricted. With unrelenting resolve, the incarnate Son of God walked the ultimate road of submission by devoting himself to the will of the Father.
The disciples pledged their commitment but faltered. But not Jesus. His loyalty proved resilient to the very end—even unto crucifixion for their sins, mine, and anyone who looks to Jesus, trusting him as their sin-bearer.
It’s Jesus’ devotion for his disciples that fueled their devotion to him.
As Paul would say in 2 Corinthians 5:14, “It is the love of Christ that compels us.”
When we behold unmerited but unlimited love of God the Father in the redemptive work of Jesus, we can’t be unaffected.
The magnitude of his devotion creates a gospel response. Paul says it “compels us.” In view of the cross, we can’t help but follow our Savior-King.
This is why the extent of my devotion to Jesus is dependent upon recognizing the height, depth, width, and breadth of his devotion to me.
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