Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
A Christian hymn you might be familiar with has the lines, “I will follow, follow Thee My Lord, follow every passing day. My tomorrows are all known to Thee My Lord, I will follow you today.” Another hymn has the line, “I traveled down a lonely road and no one seemed to care. The burden on my weary back had bowed me to despair. I oft complained to Jesus how folks were treating me, and then I heard Him say so tenderly. My feet were also weary as I traveled Calvary’s road. The cross became so heavy, I fell beneath the load. Be faithful weary pilgrim, the morning I can see. Just take My hand and follow close to Me.”
- The call of the disciples
Matthew 4:18-22 – And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
Matthew 8:18-23 – And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
Matthew 9:9-13 – As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Mark 2:14 – As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.
Luke 5:27 – After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.”
There are several stories we could talk about in these brief passages, but the story I want you to see in each of them is as follows:
- In the first story, Jesus called Peter and Andrew to leave their life’s occupation, their means of support and follow Him. He told James and John to do the same, to leave their life’s occupation, their means of support as well as their father and follow Him.
- In the second story, Jesus saw two disciples who were eager to follow Him. Jesus told them both that they would have nothing if they followed Him. The second one He told basically to not let anything, even the death of a loved one, prevent him from following Jesus.
- In the last three scripture portions Jesus called Matthew, also known as Levi, the tax collector, to leave his very lucrative occupation and his sinner friends and follow Him.
- The words of a hymn state, “Jesus is tenderly calling today, calling today, calling today. Why from the sunshine of love will you roam farther and farther away? Calling today, calling today. Jesus is calling, is tenderly calling today.”
- It does not matter what your occupation is, where you live, what your social standing is. Jesus is calling for you to follow Him. You may to need to leave your occupation, leave your family and friends, your grief and certainly your sin behind. Make no mistake. Jesus calls to each of us and He wants nothing else but for us to follow Him. He calls all of us to follow Him in a closer daily walk with Him.
The Universal Call – What is Required?
Mark 10:21 – Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
Matthew 10:38 – And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
Mark 8:34-37 – When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Luke 14:27 – And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple
Luke 9:23 – Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
Luke 9:61-62 – And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
In these brief passages, you must go back and read several verses to get the full impact of the story. Basically Jesus is calling us to follow Him, but more than just follow Him. He is calling us to a life separate from the world and wholly His. This means more than saying “yes” to God and “no” to sin today and then going our way and forgetting all our promises to Him. He is calling us to more than being baptized or joining the church or just sitting in the pew.
- He calls us to take up our cross and follow Him.
- He calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross DAILY and follow Him.
- He says that unless we forsake all, unless we forsake family, occupation, cares of the world personal desires, rid ourselves of everything, take up our cross daily, deny ourselves and follow Him, we are not worthy of Him.
- This is a big thing He is asking. Or is it? Basically all He is asking is for us to put Him first in our life. To put Him before riches, family, things of this world. Is that too much to ask if we are to be His disciples, especially after what He did for us on the cross.
- Jesus found Phillip and Phillip found Nathaniel. He asks us to reach others.
- He said His sheep will not follow a stranger, only Him. We cannot listen to others. What He speaks to us we must listen and follow in obedience. If you have doubts about who is speaking to your heart, consult Him in prayer and in His Word. The enemy would not call you to follow Christ. It is Christ who calls you today. Do not turn Him away.
The hymn referred to at the beginning continues with this line:
“I left the throne of glory and counted it but loss. My hands were nailed in anger upon a cruel cross. Just take my hand and follow, follow Me.”
Revelations 3:20 – Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.