Graceful Perseverance: "Follow Me"- 5/2/21
Welcome to this week's blog. Today I want to share with my readers one of my absolute favorite words the Lord upholds in the Bible – “Follow Me." Because I so love these words, today I want to elaborate on what this means for you and me, as well as how many times Jesus, our Lord upholds these words in the Bible. You will be astounded by how many times He says “Follow Me” in the Bible. I too was shocked after doing my research. Not only are my readers learning every week from my blogs, but I am also learning each week the wonders and mysteries of the Holy Bible.
First let’s examine what Jesus means when He tells us to “Follow Me.” How does He want us to do this? How does He want us to live according to His words?
I found 27 times in the old and new testaments where Jesus said to those He called (the chosen), “Follow Me.” One of many examples is when Jesus was in the progression of choosing His disciples.
Two brothers were walking on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Simon (Peter), and Andrew his brother was casting their nets into the sea, as they were both fishermen of fish. We learn in Matthew 4:18-20 (ESV), Jesus said to Peter and Andrew, “Follow Me,” and I will make you fishers of men. Immediately Peter and Andrew dropped their nets, and followed Jesus. Peter and Andrew did not stop to think about this opportunity or discuss it with one another, they simply and immediately left their nets behind and followed Jesus, without question or doubt. They walked away from their jobs, their only source of income, the only job they had ever known in their lives, in order to obey Jesus. They had no idea what they were getting themselves into. They had to put all of their trust in Jesus at that very moment.
It is much the same for us today. We are called to walk-away from our life as we know it today, to follow Jesus, with no idea where He is leading us. We too have to put all of our trust in Jesus at that very moment. But it is through our faith and trust in the Lord, that through His plan our lives will be so much better than our own plans.
In the later part of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus also called upon a tax collector named Matthew, who was sitting in his tax booth. Jesus said to Matthew, “Follow Me.” Matthew immediately rose from his booth, walked outside, locked the door of his tax booth, and joined Jesus, and the other followers without question (Matthew 9:9). As in the earlier part of this parable with Peter and Andrew, the fishermen, there is no indication in this parable where Matthew had to stop and think about what he wanted to do versus what he should do when Jesus called him to follow Him. Matthew, was a tax collector for the Romans. He was a very wealthy man, with a very lucrative job. But in that instant Jesus called on Matthew, he did not think about the money he was going to lose, nor the wealth he was about to leave behind. Scripture tells us that Matthew rose and followed Jesus. – Matthew 9:9 (ESV).
The disciples/apostles of Jesus knew what it meant to follow Jesus. They realized it was a radical change of the existing lifestyle they measured as comfortable, with monetary security. They learned that they were to first and foremost seek the Kingdom of God above all things (Matthew 6:33). They realized it could be painful and scary, costing them to surrender the only life they knew. But as Jesus told Apostle Simon (Peter), who had just said he had forsaken all, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel”- Matthew 19:28 (ESV).
Exactly why it is so important for us to be fishermen of men, not of fish.
Below is a list of scripture from the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible, where Jesus clearly tells us to wake up, take up our cross, be fishers of people, and follow Him.
1. Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
2. As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
3. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
4. Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
5. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
6. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
7. And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
8. And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
9. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
10. And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
11. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
12. Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
13. The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”
14. And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
15. And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
16. Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
17. (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
18. After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.
19. After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.”
20. Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
21. While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he 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.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
22. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
1 Kings 20:10
23. Ben-Hadad sent to him and said, “The gods do so to me and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people who follow me.”
2 Kings 6:19
24. And Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria.
25. So, he said to the men of Succoth, “Please give loaves of bread to the people who follow me, for they are exhausted, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.”
26. The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?”
27. I said to my master, ‘Perhaps the woman will not follow me.’
Just as Jesus called His disciples to follow him, He continues to calls us to follow Him as well. We are all His children, and it is His desires that we all follow Him. But note that this is more than an invitation to prayer time with Him. He is summoning each of us to lose our life as we know it today, to then discover a new life of ultimate joy with Him. We are called to die of this life, but to live an eternal life with Him. When you really listen to Jesus’ words and truly hear what he is saying, you can engage with Jesus’ personal invitation to follow him. Then everything changes around you, for you will know He is worthy of all your trust and cares.
Jesus’ words, “Follow Me,” are built on the message to motivate others and gathering believers, so they too can experience the magnificent desire to exalt the glory of God by spreading the good news, His gospel. As He instructed in Matthew 4:19 - Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Because my husband and I have accepted the summons of our old life in exchange for our new life with Christ, we are now fishers of men. I feel so very honored and blessed to be a fisher of people, and leading them to Jesus while I am still here!
Just as earthly fathers tell their children multiple times to obey them, God also tells His children multiple times in scripture to obey Him – “Follow Me.”
Blessings until next week,
Debra M. Pauli
Scripture Quotes: Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV) / English Standard Version (ESV)
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