Due to inclement weather, the 9 a.m. service for Sunday, Jan. 20 has been cancelled. We will have one morning service at 10:45 a.m. as road conditions improve.

Follow Me

by Matt McClay

It would have been impossible for Simon and his brother Andrew to fully understand the implications of the brief invitation Jesus extended to them while they were fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Upon accepting Jesus’ invitation, they would be whisked away to an intense three years of itinerant ministry with Jesus, and a lifetime of serving Him through his church. To say that these two simple words from Jesus, “Follow Me,” would change their lives, would be a great understatement!

The gospels refer to these first followers of Jesus as “disciples.” When the word “disciple” appears in the Bible, it is derived from the Greek word mathetes, which means “One who follows one’s teaching,” “a learner,” or “a pupil.” In short, being a disciple of Jesus means being His student. During Jesus’ time on earth in the first century, students did not simply attend class with their teacher once per week. Think of it as more of an intense apprenticeship. Many disciples spent the entire day with their teacher, or, “Rabbi,” not only listening to their words, but watching their lives and behaviors closely. Some disciples even moved in to live with their Rabbis! Such was often the case with Jesus’ disciples, as they followed their itinerant Rabbi from town to town. The manner by which Jesus called His first disciples may seem anticlimactic, but those two little words, “Follow Me,” had a big meaning back then! Still today, Jesus’ call to follow Him still has a BIG meaning to us as twenty-first century believers.

Following Jesus means leaving things behind.

And immediately they left their nets and followed Him (Mark 1:18).

The first disciples were vocational fishermen. To these Galileans, fishing wasn’t a hobby, but their very lives depended on it! If they did not catch fish to sell, they would have no money with which to meet their financial obligations and provide for themselves, or their families. Many of Jesus’ disciples were working the “family business” of fishing, leaving their personal identity to be wrapped up in the fishing industry. Jesus’ call to discipleship was so compelling, they immediately left their livelihood and family identity to follow Him. This call is just as compelling today, as following Jesus means leaving behind the comfortable, familiar, and safe in order to follow our Rabbi, Savior, and King. Disciples put their obedient relationship with Jesus first, above everything and anything else.

Following Jesus means connecting with other disciples.

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He Himself was about to go (Luke 10:1).

Jesus’ posse – originally twelve disciples - was rapidly growing, apparently reaching over seventy-two followers! After sitting under Jesus’ teaching, it was time for a “field trip” of sorts, as Jesus prepared to launch them into a short ministry mission. Think of the impact that could have been made by sending each of these seventy-two followers out individually. Seventy-two people preparing the way for Jesus would have certainly been impactful. However, Jesus was teaching His first disciples something that we so quickly forget in our individualistic, twenty-first century Western culture: There is no such thing as a “lone ranger” disciple. We were created by God to grow closer to each other as we grow closer to Jesus. This is precisely why Jesus established His church: To live on mission with God together. To live the Jesus life, we are dependent on Him, and the person-to-person relationships He has brought into our lives for our encouragement, accountability, protection, and growth.

Following Jesus means making new disciples.

And He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2).

Jesus’ ministry on earth, leading up to the cross, was a teaching ministry. As He went from town to town, He demonstrated to His disciples what it meant to work in His “harvest field.” Later, Jesus told His disciples, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). Every disciple is a sent disciple. Our mission, given by Jesus, is to make disciples of all nations. Our success as disciples of Christ is not only measured by how much we know about Jesus and His teaching, but by how well we are sharing the teachings of Jesus with others. Disciples share the gospel with lost people. Disciples seek out young believers to mentor. This does not just apply to older adults. Many scholars believe that, other than Peter, the first disciples could have very well been under the age of 17 when Jesus gave the Great Commission (see Matthew 17)! Jesus calls followers of all ages to be disciples who make disciples.

Following Jesus means following through on commitments.

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God”(Luke 9:62).

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.(Philippians 3:13-14).

Discipleship is a lifelong commitment, involving a million little decisions made every day to press on toward Jesus. Will there be times when we fail? Absolutely. Will there be times when we get discouraged? For sure. Will we go through “dry” seasons when we’re bored, unmotivated, and apathetic? You bet. These are the times when disciples are made! Let’s not give up. Let’s not look back. Let’s keep leaning into our relationship with Jesus! Just as Jesus’ little phrase, “Follow Me,” made a big impact on Simon and Andrew, the little decisions we make today – connecting with God through Bible study and prayer, connecting with other disciples, and connecting with God’s mission by sharing the gospel – will make a big impact in our lives, and the lives of those around us as we follow our Rabbi – our Savior – Jesus.
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