“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
Matthew 4:18-19 (NLT)
“He appointed twelve (whom he named apostles), so that they might be with him and that he could [then] send them to preach.”
At the beginning of Jesus ministry one of the first things that he does is walk up to a handful of men and offer a simple invitation: “Follow me”. They responded by leaving everything—their families, their careers, their futures—to follow Jesus. It started in a boat and went out to the world. Those first disciples radically re-centered everything in their lives around Jesus, his teaching, and his mission. Their lives became all about Jesus! He was that important to them.
In essence, Jesus asked them to be His disciples. Discipleship starts with following Jesus. What does the word disciple mean? In the original Greek language of the New Testament, the word disciple (mathetes) means student, learner, or pupil. In the days of Jesus, the word disciple was typically used to describe someone who followed a religious or philosophical teacher. It was not uncommon in Jesus day for a student (disciple) to follow their rabbi (teacher), wherever he went and learn from the rabbis teaching while doing as he did. When we heed Jesus’ call to follow Him, we become a learner and student of our great Teacher.
The invitation is offered as an opportunity to learn from Jesus how to live authentically. But we need a teacher and an example. Jesus offers to take on that role in our lives. Our discipleship to Jesus begins when we hear those two words and obey them: “Follow me”.
While there are several insights we can gain from Matthew 4:18-19, there are two important things which we want to draw attention to:
- First, Jesus is the one who initiates the invitation for us to follow Him.
- Second, we should seek to better understand WHO we are following.
Pastor and Author David Platt phrases it this way:
We do not become followers of Jesus because of initiative in us, and he does not provide salvation primarily because of an invitation from us. Instead, while we were lying in the depth of our sin, God was planning to save us. The only way we come to follow Him is through a love entirely beyond our imagination and completely out of our control. Christianity does not begin with our pursuit of Christ, but with Christ’s pursuit of us. Christianity does not start with an invitation we offer to Jesus, but with an invitation Jesus offers to us. When we realize that Jesus is the one who takes the initiative and invites us to follow Him, everything changes-on multiple levels. First, our souls are struck by the greatness of the one who has called us. We are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the words “follow me” because we are awed by the majesty of the “me” who says them. David Platt, Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live
For many of us, it can become easy to associate ourselves as followers of Jesus but lose sight of the One we are following. Many of us find that it is often necessary to continuously gain a fresh perspective of Jesus as we seek to follow Him. Here are just a few examples to get us started in gaining a larger vision of Who we follow:
He is supreme above all things:
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see-such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Colossians 1:15-17
The source of everything:
For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen. Romans 11:36
The only name by which to be saved:
There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
As we begin this journey together of understanding more fully what it means to follow Jesus, it is important to refresh our perspective on Who we follow and remind ourselves that He initiates the invitation for us to follow Him.
DAILY RESPONSE: (Use a notebook to journal your responses, thoughts and prayer as you engage with each day’s reading)
- What has following Jesus meant to you up to this point?
- How did today’s reading impact your view of following Jesus?
- When was the last time you stopped to gain a fresh perspective of Jesus?
- Reflect on Colossians 1:15-17, Romans 11:36 and Acts 4:12 and write a prayer to Jesus asking Him to give you a larger perspective of Who He is.