Think about some big choices you have made in your life. Maybe it was a new or a house, or a career change. Getting married and starting a family rank right up there too. None of those are spontaneous choices. Now, consider the process you used to evaluate the choices. You probably weighed the benefits and potential consequences. You may have also studied time and economic commitments. Along the way, it is likely that you weighed alternative choices. Everyone would agree that a decision process that includes all of those steps is wise, right? With that truth, we have something to consider about the disciples choices to follow Jesus today in Mark 1. Check out verses 18 and 20. It says that when Jesus asked them to follow, they immediately did. Did they make hasty choices?
There are two factors we must consider when answering that question. First, is the logical decision framework we just looked at accurate and second, do we have the whole story? For the first part, I am going to simply answer yes, that is a logical framework for effective decision-making. Sure, there could be additions to it and probably a few constraints added in, but in summary, it works. So, the logical conclusion is that the disciples made hasty decisions, right? Not so fast. Since we know their life stories, we can safely and accurately say that they made wise choices. So, how did they do it? In fact, I want to know how we can make such accurate decisions immediately.
To determine how James and Matthew made their decision, we have to look into their history. Unfortunately, we don’t get a very much information about them so, we are going to have to make a few assumptions. The first takes a cue from Mark 1:2-3. Mark is quoting a prophecy from the book of Isaiah. It predicts the coming of a man that will prepare the way for Jesus. This was John the Baptist. John the Baptist, in turn, predicts the coming of Jesus. It is fair to assume that the disciples were listening to and hearing these messages. So, the two contributing factors to their immediate decisions were listening to God and keeping watch for the Christ. Therefore, we really want to make accurate decisions, we too will listen and keep watch.
The second consideration of the disciple’s immediate choice to study is what the disciples continuously thought about. As faithful Jews, they were steeped in scripture. This knowledge of God’s word allowed them to weigh the truth of what they were hearing and evaluate the promises being made.
To close, let’s look again at this immediate decision. Clearly, it was not hasty, nor was it exactly immediate. You see, their decision to follow Jesus was made long before they met him face to face. It came from setting their mind on him, keeping watch and knowing that they would act when it was time. Their immediate decision, therefore was really a conditioned response to the Truth that they had hidden in their heart. At the moment of invitation, no thought or consideration was necessary. The preparations had already been made.
To be like the disciples, we can follow their pattern. Accurate and effective choices are made by knowing God (plasm 119:11), setting our minds on him (Colossians 3:1-4) and be ready to respond (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2).
Colossians 3:1-4 (ESV) If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9
Deuteronomy 12:28 (ESV) Be careful to obey all these words that I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God.