Matthew 4:18-19 - While walking by the Sea of Galilee, He (Jesus) 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 men."
The cornerstone of evangelism is to come and, by God's grace, experience the Gospel. The next step is to follow. God first calls you to "come." He then invites you to follow Him. Through the gift of faith we become His disciples and join with Him in His mission. This involves aligning our lives with the One we follow, the One we want to be most like.
But what does it mean to follow Jesus, to be His disciple? What did it mean for those who followed Him during His lifetime? Jewish rabbis in Jesus' day shared their lives and gave their disciples an example to emulate. A rabbi's disciples would strive to do everything their rabbi did. Following his lead closely, they would interpret Scripture as he did; they would treat their wife as he did; they would pray the way he did.
We see this idea picked up by the apostle Paul who writes, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1). Paul, too, was from the rabbinic tradition of education, and he knew well the power of imitating those who were worth following. Conversely, he knew the responsibility of being an example to those who trusted him as their teacher in Christ: "Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the Gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me" (1 Corinthians 4:15-16).
Does it then mean to follow Jesus (or Paul's example as he imitated Him), we need to quit our job, leave our friends and family behind, and hit the road as a traveling preacher? While it might mean that, it helps to keep the concept of discipleship in perspective. Following Jesus is a Holy Spirit-empowered, lifelong process of following and becoming more like Jesus.
Discipleship, of course, is not some act of justification (an attempt to get right with God by our own merits), it's about living our lives to honor and worship our Lord and Savior, so that we may "walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:2).
Discipleship is transformative. We know from the story of the original disciples that Jesus radically changed their lives. He took them from being fishermen to being fishers of men. He took them and transformed them—slowly, steadily, day by day—into becoming those who would not only follow their Master, but who would lead others to Him as well.
And He can do the same for you and me.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, as we have been led to receive Your grace and mercy, so too transform us into those who are able to lead others to the well of Your forgiveness. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.
Adapted from the LHM booklet, Make Him Known: A Foundation for Witnessing, by Andrew Fitzgerald
1. Do you try to follow the example of a significant person in your life?
2. Have you ever felt compelled (almost immediately) to follow someone else? Who was it and what was it about them that caused to react that way?
3. Do you ever consider yourself as being an example to someone else? Should we think of our lives in this way?