Matthew 4:19 “And He saith unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
The little six-year-old boy could be seen in the Yorkshire field, pulling turnips with hands reddened by the cold. His family were living in poverty. The following year, at age seven, he joined his dad, working 12 hour shifts in a wool mill to help bring in enough to feed the family. He attended a revival the next year, and became a ‘born again’ Christian. Continuing as a believer, he grew up to become a respected plumber.
His wife preached for 20 years at a mission and he learned to read, under her teaching, but he was no preacher himself. When he heard how people were being filled with the Holy Spirit, he took time off to see for himself. On the 29th October 1907 he experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and returned home to tell his family.
His wife Mary Jane, knowing her husband’s inability to preach, challenged his experience. She said, “On Sunday you will preach yourself, and I’ll see what there is in it.” As he began to preach under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, she became beside herself. Then she said in a voice that all around her could hear, “That’s not my Smith, Lord, that’s not my Smith!” At age 48, his life changed from being a follower of Jesus, to becoming a specially called international minister of the Gospel. You may know him as Smith Wigglesworth!
At the Jordan river, John the Baptist pointed to Jesus as the “Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Two of John’s disciples immediately began to follow Jesus. Andrew was one of those two, and he introduced his brother Peter to Jesus. They became disciples of Jesus, they believed on Him. This was the first level of discipleship.
Peter and Andrew, together with their partners James and John, went on with their normal lives and work, keeping the fishing business running. Then one day Jesus came walking along the shore, and found them busy fishing and mending equipment. It was here that Jesus gave them a call to become more than just believers. He called them to become his students. They immediately obeyed the call. This was level two.
A Rabbi would select his group and pour his life and teaching into them, with the intent that one day they would carry on his work. Jesus did that, and gathered 12 around him. After training and testing them for three years, Jesus began to talk to them about taking up their cross. He was challenging them to become the leaders he had been preparing them to be. This was the third level.
In these articles I have been leading you to understand the implications of taking up your cross. Have you determined where you now are in this process? I hope you are ready to move to the next level. You can move from being a Believer, to a Student, and to one day, like the apostles, walk in the Market Place of Life, carrying your Cross. I pray that you will.
Prayer: “Lord Jesus, I have been hearing your call, and I want to follow you, and make my life count in my generation. Help me to take the next step in my journey with you. Amen.”