After Jesus had returned from his forty days in the wilderness he commenced his ministry. While walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw fishermen, including Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John. To them he said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Verse 17) They would certainly have been fascinated by this approach for being fishermen they understood what fishing was about. They daily cast nets into the sea to see what they might catch, and the catch was often a surprise.
The disciples were ready for this for it shows in the John 1:35-42 version of this event that they had already been followers of John the Baptist. The primary ministry of John was to prepare the way of the Lord, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is Jesus, and these fishermen had been prepared by John to follow Jesus.
But the words of Jesus have a deeper significance for he used the words, “Follow me.” To be a follower of the Lord is a higher call than to be just a disciple. In my last post I showed there were four stages a person goes through when they come to the Lord. These are, in order: convert, Christian, disciple and follower. A convert is someone who has just heard the word but done little more than to believe and accept the introductory teachings of the Lord. A Christian is an anointed one, that is, someone who has received the anointing of the Holy Spirit. A disciple is someone going through the journey of learning about the Lord and his teachings, and applying them to their life. Whether the role of disciple precedes that of a Christian or the other way round is a moot point. It may depend on the individual and how the Lord has led them. But the role of follower is surely the highest level a person can attain in their Christian walk. A follower is someone who has reached a high level of maturity and follows in the Lords footsteps. They walk as Christ walked and thus are followers.
Perhaps the best example of a follower could be seen in the 144,000 referred to in the book of Revelation. It says of these people redeemed from the earth that they, “…follow him wherever he goes.” (Revelation 14:4) They walk literally in the ways of the Lord and act as he acts. This is why I say that the role of a follower is much higher than the others.
When Jesus called the disciples at the Sea of Galilee they immediately left what they were doing and followed him. It was to become a hallmark and example for all Christians. James and John for example were working with their father, and yet left him to follow after Jesus. Their example shows that they were ready to do this, but even more they were prepared to leave everything behind them for the sake of following the Lord. Clearly they knew from the preaching of John that this Jesus was the Son of God and that his message was greater than John’s and they wanted to know more. The apostle Paul expressed a similar motivation saying, “I counted all things as loss for the surpassing worth of knowing the Lord Jesus.” (Philippians 3:8)
This is how we are to come to Christ too. Knowing Jesus and being known by him far outweighs any other things we may do or have in this world. Our prime focus and number one priority is to follow Jesus and learn his ways. The reward is great for he has set eternal life before us and the opportunity of living in God’s Kingdom as children of God if we will follow the Lord.