Thursday, April 30, 2009

Follow Me

Tony Morgan had an excellent post today on 'Unlearning Discipleship ' in which he took a closer look at Jesus' call to "Follow Me."
'When Jesus began calling the first disciples into ministry, he used this phrase:
“Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”
For whatever reason, I started thinking about what Jesus didn’t say to those first disciples.
He didn’t say: “Come, follow me, and I will teach you spiritual insights!”
He didn’t say: “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to worship together!”
He didn’t say: “Come, follow me, and I will gather you together in a home group!”
He didn’t say: “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to pray!”
He didn’t say: “Come, follow me, and I will make you members of the church!”
I think we can all agree that Jesus was a fairly insightful guy, so I think it’s interesting of all the things he could have said, he chose to put the focus on ministry to reach other people."
Very interesting and helpful point. A commenter noted Francis Chan said at West Coast Catalyst, “If people just read the Bible would they get the same conclusions we hold to now?” And so... I thought I would take a closer look at this phrase "Follow Me" used by Jesus. (Not only is this a good thing to do in general, but I'm currently trying to practice spiritual disciplines more faithfully, and both word studies and reading with the Bible in your other hand is another one I'm exploring!)
  • "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." - Mt 4:19, Mk 1:17
  • Jesus told him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead." - Mt 8:22
  • As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. - Mt 9:9, Mk 2:14
  • He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." - Lk 9:59
  • Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." - Lk 9:61
  • "Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." - Mt 10:38
  • Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." - Mt 16:24, Mk 8:34
  • Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." - Mt 19:21, Mk 10:21
  • The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me." - Jn 1:43
  • When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." - Jn 8:12
  • "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." - Jn 10:27
  • "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." - Jn 12:26
  • Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." - Jn 21:22
What do we see here about when Jesus says "Follow Me"?
- To those whose life mission was fishing, he said they would fish for men
- To Matthew and Philip He said nothing else, and yet they followed.
- To the person with excuses, he added a comment about the excuse (burying dead)
   saying if something else was more important, they could not follow Him
- To the one not willing to deny himself and take up his cross is also not worthy
- To the one with a hidden top priority in life, he asked him to reject
   that top priority, then come and follow Him (rich young ruler)
- To those who do follow, He gives them the light of life
- To the person asking what about him (following in a different direction)
   Jesus says that your path in following Him will be different than others
- Those who are His sheep listen to His voice and follow
- You can't serve Him without actually following Him

My conclusion from this...

Jesus' call to "Come, Follow Me" is a call for us to put aside our own agenda, to lay down whatever may be taking up the position of first place in our lives, and put Christ in first place. When we do, we hear His voice, we walk in new light, and are called to do the things He did, pursuing the same mission He did but with a specific path unique for each of us. To be like Christ is our top priority, to be a disciple - not service (ministry), not evangelism, not fellowship - but to be a true disciple/follower we cannot ignore any of those. It's not discipleship vs. evangelism, etc., but proper discipleship includes evangelism, and ministry, and fellowship, and worship.


Chris Hill said...

Solid hit with this post. I'll definitely be sharing this with others. I've been thinking along these lines, but not been able to put it into words like this. Great insight and interpretation!

Larry Baxter said...

Thanks for stopping by Chris! My engineering brain typically loves to categorize and break things down. Seeing things as a whole and not parts in competition is important.