He and all his companions were gripped with amazement….Then they abandoned everything and followed Him.
In this particular passage, we see that these guys (who we now refer to as the “disciples”) drop everything to follow Jesus wherever He goes, only after they were amazed by Him.
I’ve not witnessed anyone who has given up anything of significance to pursue Jesus who has not first been amazed by Him.
Given up anything of significance.
Generally, we tend to automatically think of a person giving up material possessions, which is significant, yes, but we must also include and consider the giving up of one’s time, a most precious commodity. And the giving up, ultimately, of one’s self, as your identity is seen for what it truly is–hidden in Christ. Therefore, you release your kung-fu grip on all those silly things you thought made you who you are. You realize you are not simply your body, your status in the world, your intellect, your influence, even your good deeds, etc. You have discovered that you can only be defined as a child of God, and nothing else really matters that much any more.
If you’ve not experienced the greatness of God, then why would you give up anything?
How do you know if you’ve been awestruck by God? Well, first of all, YOU JUST KNOW! Secondly, you respond as Peter did in verse 8 of our pericope:
When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees. “Go away,” he said. “Leave me, Lord. I’m a sinner!”
This is the response we see throughout Scripture of those who have encountered the Divine, and it is the only appropriate response when faced with ultimate numinous Reality. To be clear, the declaration that Simon is a sinner should be understood not primarily in moral terms, but as an expression of awe before the power of the holy, the mysterium tremendum ac fascinosum. An encounter with God causes both trembling and fascination. That’s probably why we see “Don’t be afraid” 365 times in the Bible.
So I ponder the reality that I cannot really make anybody change or give up anything or follow Jesus. Only God has that power. Only an encounter with Divinity, the mysterium tremendum ac fascinosum, can bring about that which precipitates the abandonment of all that is in the way of following Jesus to wherever He leads.