Jesus’ reputation was preceding Him. Word had spread like wildfire, as Luke later recorded, that this Jesus of Nazareth was going “about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil.”
Peter experienced this goodness first hand when, after Jesus used his boat to speak to the multitudes, He blessed Peter with a boat sinking load of fish. To which Peter responded by saying, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man.” The word sinful turned around means “full of sin.” Peter wasn’t just saying I occasionally sin and fall short, he was saying to Jesus that his life was full of sin, and thus, felt the least worthy to receive such blessing and goodness from Jesus.
This was the new day that had dawned that Jesus had spoken of in His hometown temple when He said that His ministry was the start of the “acceptable year of the Lord,” or “the age of God’s grace had come.”
This was so much different than folks had experienced before. They were used to the only system they had ever known; a system based on reward and blessing based on good deeds and behavior. This new system, however, was blessing first apart from deserving and reward. Under this new way, the people who were being blessed seemed to be the least deserving.
It’s the only way someone like Levi could have been moved enough to leave his lucrative tax collecting business to follow this Man called Jesus. In fact, there was no hesitation at all for Levi. When Jesus passed by and beckoned Levi to follow Him and be one of His disciples, Levi immediate left his tax collector’s booth and followed. And, it was with that same immediacy that Peter left those hundreds of fish on the shoreline to follow Jesus as well.
Romans 2:4 tells us that it’s the goodness of God that leads one to repentance. So, know today, that if you choose to answer the call and follow Him, you won’t be following a hard taskmaster who can never be satisfied and holds His reward out like a dangling carrot that can never be recached. No, you’ll be following the One who gives first, rewards first, and loves first.