In Matthew 4:19-21 Jesus has just began His ministry and is beginning to develop His posse by hand picking His first protégé’s. Simon (later to be called Peter) and his brother Andrew are the first to hear from the lips of Jesus the life altering invitation to “Come and follow me.” Little did they know going to work on the boat that day how their lives were about to be impacted and all that laid in store for their future as a result of the encounter they were about to have with Jesus.
Like Simon and Andrew, Jesus extends that invitation to the entire human family. To you and to me. You can even imagine Him standing before you now and saying those same words “Come and follow me.” When Jesus says “Come follow me” He really has a holistic view of your life in mind. Not just ‘come follow me to church every once in a while. Or, follow me like you follow The Office – like, you’ve got the “Worlds Best Boss” coffee mug and the Dunder Miflin t-shirt. Don’t just get the Jesus coffee mug and t-shirt and think that’s what I had in mind.” When Jesus says ‘Come follow me’ what He’s really saying is ‘Come follow me … and be my disciple.’
In first century Jewish culture the Rabbi would have Disciples apprentice underneath him. Discipleship was the apex of the Jewish education system and only the Navy Seals, Supra Elite, Suma Cum Laude would qualify to apprentice underneath a Rabbi. If you were to somehow work your way into apprenticeship to a Rabbi you would reorient your entire life around 3 goals:
To be with your Rabbi
To become like your Rabbi
Do what your Rabbi
Jesus is addressed 90x in the 4 Gospel accounts directly (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John). 60x He’s referred to specifically as ‘Rabbi’. The most frequent descriptor of ‘Followers of Jesus’ or ‘Christians’ in the New Testament is the word ‘Disciple’ appearing over 260x. What all of this means is Jesus is putting into play, if you will, the model of first century discipleship as His frame-work for ministry. This has many implications for us who identify as Followers of Jesus. Meaning that to be a Christian/Disciple/Apprentice/Follower of Jesus is to re-orient our lives around 3 goals:
To be with Jesus (John 15, Mark 3:14)
To become like Jesus (Rom 8:29, 2 Cor 3:18, 1 Thes 4:3)
To do what Jesus did (Matt 28:16-20 , Mark 16:15-18, Luke 10)
What I’m trying to say is, God has such a greater purpose for your life than just warming up a chair in a building on Sunday morning for an hour! You have been invited to be with Him, been given the opportunity to become like Him, given the purpose of continuing His work to bring the Kingdom of the Heavens into every sphere of life. And here’s some great news, you don’t have to be put together to be an apprentice to Jesus, you don’t have to be an amazing academic or scholar or have lived a perfect life. He calls the fishermen, the un-educated, the educated, the stay at home mom, the business-owner, the UPS driver, the sinner, the broken and the social justice advocate alike without showing any preference or favoritism.
How does this all happen you may be wondering? Do I have to ‘work really hard’? Adopt a ‘try harder’ mentality? Is this all up to me? No. Here’s some more good news… Try as hard as you want and you’re never on your own going to able to work your way to God, or to be like Jesus or be able to heal the sick, raise the dead or anything of the like. It’s only through His empowering presence through the Spirit that indwells us that any of this is possible. As we day by day, moment by moment learn to live in a constant state of dependence upon Jesus and awareness of His nearness and love is this possible.
Jesus says in John 10:10 AMPC “I came that they [or you] may have have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance - to the full, till it overflows.” **brackets mine. The way of Jesus really is the way of flourishing and the way of life to the full! And He invites you to follow Him into the life that is truly life. We’re not going to get it right all the time, and in fact there will be plenty of times when we fall flat on our face and fail. But let’s follow Jesus together this year and see all that God is willing to do in and through us this year!
“The greatest issue facing the world today, with all its heart breaking needs, is whether those who are identified as ‘Christians’ will become disciples – students, apprentices, practitioners – of Jesus Christ, steadily learning from Him how to live the life of the Kingdom of the Heavens into every corner of human existence.”