Follow Me (Matthew 4:19)
‘Follow me’ is a call.
This is a loving invitation from Jesus to ordinary people. When Jesus wanted to recruit His disciples, He went around and chose people who are not highly qualified or affluent in society.
Remembering what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:26 “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.”.
This truth should be encouraging to everyone. I have heard people say things like “I am not qualified”; ”I do not have the skill to talk about Jesus”; ”I haven’t gone to Bible College”; ”I am afraid that I will make mistakes”; “I may not be politically correct” and so on.
Let us understand that it is not our qualification that makes us worthy to be a follower of Jesus, but it is His calling. Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit” (John 15:16). It is by the grace of God you are saved and called to be His children. (Ephesians 2:8; 2Tim 1:9)
‘Follow me’ is having confidence in the Lord who has called.
When Jesus called them, they immediately left their nets and followed Him (Mat 4:20). This is amazing! We are not sure whether this is the first time they have encountered Jesus.
However, they put aside their trust in their nets, boats and their family profession and their families and simply followed Jesus. They shifted their faith from the things of the world to the One who called them.
Though they would not have fully understood what it means to follow Christ, they were willing. As they journeyed with Jesus, they doubted their own decision.
When the rich young man came to Jesus, he wanted to know the path to obtain eternal life. Jesus instructed him to sell everything and then come and follow Him. But he went away sorrowful. This is the only person who went away sad after meeting Jesus.
In this context, in Matthew 19 every disciple started thinking about their future. And Peter was bold enough to ask Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” Please read the response of Jesus with a promise in Matthew 19:28,29. The follower of Jesus will inherit everything hundredfold and eternal life.
‘Follow me’ is a command.
Whenever Jesus looked at someone and directed that person to follow Him, they obeyed His command. In Matthew 9:9, Jesus saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. He said to him, “Follow Me.” Immediately, Matthew arose and followed Him. No one can simply resist His command. This is really a scary affair. But then, those who obeyed and followed were immensely blessed.
No one is destroyed by obeying Jesus and there is no one who has prospered by disobeying Him. If we have received such command from our Master Jesus and the Captain of our lives, it is our privilege to obey Him.
Over the centuries, millions who obeyed, changed history and turned the world upside down. However, there are billions of people who received this command yet refused to put their faith in Jesus. Are you one of them?
‘Follow me’ is a compelling vision.
Jesus said, “I will make you; I will shape your life and I will give you the purpose for your life.” Hundreds of books have been written answering this question, “What is the purpose of this life?” Our Lord who is the source and author of life (Acts 3:15) knows why He has created us.
Therefore, when He calls us with this compelling vision, it impacts our hearts, then moves to our head, influences our thinking, enables our hands and our habits will be transformed. It makes our lives useful to His purpose of building His kingdom, by establishing a community of Jesus’ followers.
This vision of becoming fishers of men, must first impact our personal life, family life and then the community where we live. When Apostle Paul was called, he received this compelling vision which he announced publicly (Acts 9:15,16; 22:14,15; 26:15-18).
Then he said, “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven” (Acts 26:19). Are you still not sure of why God called you and why He created you? It is for His purpose, His glory, His will and for the expansion of His Kingdom.
‘Follow Me’ is a process of building Christ-like character that keeps us on track.
As we start this journey of following Jesus, our perspectives will be transformed. This process begins to impart knowledge; knowledge turns to attitude and attitude turns into Christ like character.
For three and half years, Jesus was instilling in those who followed Him, the Kingdom values such as ‘love God, love yourself and love others’ (Matthew 22:37-40); ‘deny yourself daily to follow Me’ (Matthew 16:24; Luke 9:23); ‘unless you wash one another’s feet and love one another you can’t be called as My disciples’ (John 13:14,34,35); ‘whoever wants to be great and first must be a servant and a slave’ (Matthew 20:25-28); ‘in following Him, devote yourself totally, forsaking all’ (Matt 10:37; Luke 14: 26-33) and so on.
Later, these demands enabled the disciples to live for Jesus. Moreover, all of them become martyrs for Christ. Therefore, let us examine ourselves.
What are the positive changes you have brought into your life after you became a follower of Christ? What are the influences of the world conflicting with your personal walk with Jesus? When following Jesus, stay on track!
‘Follow me’ is a candid chance to co-partner with Christ.
Never forget that Jesus is the Leader, you are a follower; He is the Master builder and you are a co-labourer. He uses your skills and interests for building His kingdom as you align your goals, decisions and actions with His kingdom. It is a continuous, lifelong process. It is a vocation. He may ask you to leave your net and boat like Peter and others; or He may ask you to continue wherever you are but be focused on soul winning.
Jesus must become everything in His followers’ lives; their family, children, job, marriage, future planning and every aspect of life will have to do with this responsibility of being the co-partner.
On hearing such teaching, many followers turned back and no longer followed Jesus. Jesus asked His disciples, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:60-71).
The true followers of Jesus will recognise this as a privilege and at any cost they will dedicate their entire life to be co-partners with Christ.
‘Follow me’ is a commitment.
Becoming the followers of Jesus is coming into a covenant relationship with Jesus. The governing principle of this covenant is the love of Jesus and their love for Jesus over everything. It is intentionally detaching with the world and attaching with Christ.
Peter had struggles as he was not stable in his decision and was wavering; on one hand he wanted to live and love Jesus and on the other hand he was falling away. Having understood the struggles of Peter, the risen Lord Jesus had a one on one evaluation with him (John 21:15-19).
Then the Lord filled him with the Holy Spirit, and he became very bold and solid in his faith. Being filled with the Holy Spirit, he stood boldly and declared to the crowd (Acts 2:14), that they were the witnesses of Jesus (Acts 2:32).
Nothing could stop them from proclaiming that they were true followers of Jesus. Acts 4:13 says that others were able to see that those disciples had been with Jesus. This testimony of others was simply because of their commitment to follow Jesus.
Becoming a follower of Jesus is a celebration!
But it is a lifelong process to become fishers of men. Every one of us is expected to be an effective soul-winner by making a difference in our personal life, in our family life, in the workplace and in the community, by loving like Jesus, living like Jesus and thus leading others to Jesus. Lord make me a true follower of Jesus!
Rev John P. Wesley is the Former General Secretary of Indian Evangelical Mission
Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash