Forsake and Follow
by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
“Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.” (Luke 5:10-11)
Perhaps we take too lightly the fact that the disciples “forsook all, and followed him.” This action involved at least two aspects, the leaving of their former life and the realignment of their loyalty.
The word “forsook” is used in a variety of extreme situations, including the “putting away” of a spouse (1 Corinthians 7:11-12; also “leave,” v. 13), and even death. “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up [same word] the ghost” (Matthew 27:50). This leaving implies a complete severing of a situation or relationship.
Furthermore, they forsook all. For Peter, James, John, and Andrew, this involved leaving a prosperous business; for Matthew, a prestigious position of wealth; i.e., their careers. Certainly each left their livelihood, security, training, possessions, relationships, hopes—everything! “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).
Next, the disciples needed to restructure their lives and loyalties to those of Christ. The word “follow” implies a unity of purpose and direction. Jesus told the rich young ruler to give up all vestiges of his materialistic life “and come, take up the cross, and follow me” (Mark 10:21).
Christ issues the same call to discipleship to each of us. Peter asked Him the question which we frequently ask. “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?” (Matthew 19:27). Christ answered, “Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (v. 29). JDM