Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”-John 8:12

Four fishermen were standing by the sea one day when Jesus approached them. “Follow me,” he said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” With that, Jesus beckoned these men to leave behind their professions, possessions, dreams, ambitions, family, friends, safety and security. He bid them to abandon everything. “If anyone is going to follow me,” Jesus said, “he must deny himself.” In a world where everything revolves around self-protect yourself, promote yourself, preserve yourself, entertain yourself, comfort yourself, take care of yourself-Jesus says, “Slay yourself.”

And that’s exactly what happened with these four fishermen. According to Scripture and tradition, they paid a steep price for following Jesus. Peter was crucified upside down, Andrew was crucified in Greece, James was beheaded, and John was exiled.

Yet they believed it was worth the cost. In Jesus, these men found something worth losing everything for. In Christ, they encountered a love that surpassed comprehension, a satisfaction that superseded circumstances, and a purpose that transcended every other possible pursuit in this world. They eagerly, willingly, and gladly lost their lives to know, follow, and proclaim him. In the footsteps of Jesus, these first disciples discovered a path worth giving their lives to tread.

Two thousand years later, we seem to have wandered from the path. Somewhere along the way, amid varying cultural tides and popular church trends, we have minimized Jesus’ summons to total abandonment. Scores of men, women, and children have been told that becoming a follower of Jesus simply involves acknowledging certain facts or saying certain words. But this is not true. Disciples like Peter, Andrew, James, and John show us that the call to follow Jesus is not simply an invitation to pray a prayer; it’s a summons to lose our lives.

There is indescribable joy to be found, deep satisfaction to be felt, and an eternal purpose to be fulfilled in dying to ourselves and living for him.

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