Jesus says: “Follow Me!”
In Matthew 4 verses 18 to 20, we read the following: “While walking the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of me.’ Immediately they left their nest and followed him.”
During His ministry on earth to proclaim the kingdom of God, Jesus gave us the blueprint (verse 19) for how we fit into His kingdom.
In this verse Jesus names three important aspects, namely:
- Firstly, Jesus says: Follow Me. This means that He, Jesus, should be followed; to follow after Him. This is the part we must do.
- Secondly, Jesus gives us the reason why He must be followed, and that is to become a fisher of men.
- And thirdly, He makes the most wonderful statement: He himself is going to give the training. This is the part He will do.
To follow Jesus isn’t as simple as it sounds. There are a few aspects to keep in mind.
When He found Peter and his brother Andrew, they were busy working, throwing a net into the ocean. They left the net, their temporary work, and followed Him.
This is exactly what Jesus meant: leave everything and follow Him.
But then in Matthew 8 verses 21 and 22, we read the following: “Another of the disciples said to him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.’” These verses make Jesus sound insensitive, but He wants to bring home a very important concept, and that is that we must follow Him unconditionally, and not procrastinate until it suits us.
Following Jesus also requires sacrifice (Matt. 16:24): “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’”
Following Jesus means abandoning your own desires, views, and plans. Where Jesus leads is not necessarily going to be the path we would take. It will also mean that Jesus can expect things from us that might be difficult, or that we might not want to do.
It can be that you might regret your decision at one point (Luke 9:62): “Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’”
You now have a new life and have started on a new path, but it doesn’t quite suit you. Maybe you had to change your lifestyle, you have to do things differently now and then you might look back with regrets. To follow Jesus means a life change.
To follow Jesus also means to get rid of your possessions. “Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’” (Matt.19:21)
We see that while on earth Jesus led a simple existence. He did not have a house or a lot of possessions. He lived day to day. And in this simple existence, the disciples had to walk and live with Him. It also wasn’t practical for them to hoard a lot of earthly possessions because every day they had to go where Jesus went and how would they carry everything… No, their existence was one of simplicity.
To follow Jesus means that you have to let go of your own point of view, abilities, thoughts, plans, and desires, fully dependent on Him alone.
Following Jesus means serving Him. “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” (Joh. 12:26)
A servant is someone who submits to the will and decisions of his owner. A servant doesn’t decide for himself where he goes, what he does, etc. A servant waits on his master’s command.
Someone who is a follower of Jesus is also His servant, and His servant is always close to Him because Jesus says: “Where I am, there will my servant be also…”
A servant’s eyes are always fixed on his master, his ears open to his master’s voice and a true servant follows his master’s example.
Following Jesus also means that it will never be dark around you, even at night.
“Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”
When you follow Jesus, you walk in His light. Jesus will lead us on the path which is best for you and me. He himself will light the way and we will be safe.
And lastly, to follow Jesus means that everyone’s path will look different. “Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:22)
It is not our job to look at each other and then ask Jesus: Why is that person’s life better than mine? No, Jesus expects each one of us to follow Him personally. Everyone’s path looks different, everyone’s circumstances differ. Jesus will lead each one of us differently and it is none of our business how Jesus leads our neighbor. We should rather look away from one another and just follow Jesus. He leads each one differently and uniquely because Jesus knows the best.
Let us follow Jesus like He taught us to follow Him.
Bennie Oppermann, Pniël Congregation (Krugersdorp)