When I was in elementary school, I remember when captains were chosen for teams for kickball. It was the captains who chose their teams one by one. I wasn’t an athletic person, so I was never one of the first chosen to be on the team. But everyone was eventually chosen. I was thinking about that this morning as I pondered being chosen by the Lord. “For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God that He has chosen you” (1 Thess. 1:4).
In Luke 5:1-11 we see Jesus chose His first disciples, when they made their choice to leave their previous lives behind and follow Him. It’s not the only time they were called (Mark 1:16-20). Although it took time for Jesus’ call and His message to get through, the disciples finally made the choice. After the first time, Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John had gone back to fishing. They continued to watch Jesus. This time when Jesus met them, He used Simon Peter’s boat to get a ways from the shore so that the people would be able to hear Him better.
And then after He finished teaching, He met them on their level and helped them in their work. “When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’ When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.” (Luke 5:4-7) They saw that Jesus cared about their daily lives and needs.
And this time when they understood that He cared about them, their response was different. “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him.” (Luke 5:8-11) Following Jesus means more than just acknowledging Him as Savior. We must leave our past behind and commit our future to Him.
Paul talks about leaving our past behind: “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:13-14) When we make the choice to follow Jesus, we leave behind our old ways of thinking and become new creations. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17)
Long before Jesus was born, God put in place the way for all of us sinners to be reconciled with Him: through our belief in His Son who died for our sins and was resurrected (overcoming sin) and seated at the Father’s right hand. In this way, God chose each and every one of us to be reconciled with Him, but He gave us free will to choose Him. “[God our Savior] who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim 2:4)
He chose us and gave the choice to us to be reconciled with Him. “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will–to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.” (Eph. 1:3-6)
We have the ability to choose and have faith in Jesus, God’s only Son, and being secure in our eternal life in heaven, or we can choose to turn from God and live apart from Him. That’s free will. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Simon Peter recognized his own sinfulness, and realized that following Jesus was the only way. Have you made that choice yet? He chose you, will you choose Him?