Follow Me

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. (Mark 1:16-20)

The word followed is translated from the Greek word akoloutheo meaning attendant, accompany. “The individual calling to follow Jesus involved abiding fellowship with Him, not only for the sake of learning as a student from his teacher, but also for the sake of the salvation known or looked for, which presented itself in this fellowship. The first thing involved in following Jesus is a cleaving to Him in believing trust and obedience, those cleaving to Him also following His leading and acting according to His example. Hence the constant stress laid by the Lord Jesus upon the need of self-denial and fellowship with Himself in the cross. Thus following Jesus denotes a fellowship of faith as well as a fellowship of life, sharing in His sufferings not only inwardly but outwardly if necessary.” –Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible New Testament Lexical Aids
Two things stand out to me in our verses for today–Jesus called and those He called followed. Leaving work and family and friends behind, these four fishermen began to follow Jesus at His invitation–they believed in Him at once. Our Lord begins His selection process of His twelve disciples, His core group of comrades, His intimate circle of friends and followers, with the call of four fishermen. How perfect–they had a transferable skill set–switching from being fishers of fish to fishers of men. Jesus’ words must have resonated with them. How interesting that Jesus did not go to the “religious” Pharisees and Sanhedrin of His day to gather His inner circle, rather He picked from among the nets by the Galilean seashore. Jesus so often chooses to demonstrate His power through the weak and foolish things of this world so that there will be no question about where the power comes from. Paul tells us:

Brothers, 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. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

At the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the pupils were the ones to choose the Rabbis they would follow rather than vice versa. But Jesus came with a different authority–one where He does the calling. Jesus was constantly shaking up the tradition of man! There was and is no relationship with Christ apart from His call, and it was and is no ordinary call. What He invited those twelve men to was a relationship with Him that was totally radical in its nature. And He invites each one of us into that same relationship. He wants priority–priority over our friends and families, priority over our careers, priority over our stuff, priority over our very selves. He wants first place–all else is to be second. He will share His throne with no other. Our Lord wants us loosely attached to this world and the things of it–forsaking what is inconsistent to our duty of following after Him. We find Jesus’ Words in Luke emphasizing this priority:

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-27)

Jesus is to be our passion, our goal, our priority. He is to be our sufficiency and strength. The Gospel is all about following the King!

Take It to Heart

The nature of Christ’s salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist. He announces a Saviour from Hell rather than a Saviour from sin. And that is why so many are fatally deceived … there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness.” (A.W. Pink)

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. (Matthew 16:24-27)