Come, Follow Me | Part 1

Come, Follow Me | Part 1

“Come, follow me,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to fish for people.” Right away, they left their nets and followed him. Matthew 4:19-29 (CEB)

In Matthew 4:19-20, Jesus is talking to fishermen and invites them to follow him. The text goes on to say the fishermen left their nets and went with Jesus. The rest of Matthew covers a three year span where these fisherman were with Jesus day in and day out. In today’s world, that would make no sense at all. Imagine a preacher you have never met walking into your place of business or even into your back yard and asking you to follow him or her. It is very doubtful you would drop what you were doing and follow that person for the next three years without some additional reason.

This is where a look at the historical, cultural, and traditional context helps us understand what is going on. By the time Jesus arrives on the scene, more than likely he has established himself as a known Rabbi, teacher. During the first century, it was one of the highest honors to be called to follow a rabbi. So when Jesus asks these fishermen to follow him, he is actually giving them, what we may call, an opportunity of a lifetime. Once we understand this culture and tradition, it makes complete sense for these fishermen to leave their jobs and immediately follow Jesus.

Knowing the context also helps us understand the phrase “Come, follow me.” When a rabbi would ask someone to follow them, the rabbi was actually saying, “I want to teach you to be like me…to act like me…to do what I do…to say what I say…and to teach what I teach.” Saying yes to following a rabbi meant the follower would do everything within their power to be like the rabbi, and the rabbi and other followers would hold them accountable to their growth. This is called discipleship, and this is the original meaning of discipleship.

But over the years the meaning of the word discipleship has shifted. In many settings, Christian discipleship means a Bible study or a small group meeting. Sometimes discipleship will include a time of prayer and maybe even a service or mission project, but more often than not the modern term we use forgets or ignores the acting like, doing, saying, and teaching portions of discipleship. Holding one another accountable, when it comes to discipleship in the modern age, has almost disappeared completely. 

Jesus still calls us to be a disciple in its original meaning. Jesus calls us to be like him and to do what he did. Jesus calls us to say what he said as we teach others about him. In order to do this, we have to learn about Jesus and spend time in prayer. However, if we stop there, then we are not fulfilling the call to discipleship.

The Invitation Team would like to take this opportunity to do one of the things we were created to do, and that is to extend an invitation to you. Remember when Jesus first called you to follow him? Consider the change that took place. Ours is a journey of discipleship. As we travel through Lent, we invite you to consider these questions:

  • How is God alive in your spiritual practices (daily devotions, prayer, fasting, etc…)?
  • How is God present in your relationships?
  • How are you doing the work to which Jesus called you?


Tim Jones

Tim is the Director of Communications at the Holston Conference of The United Methodist Church, where he leads a diverse team of communicators. He oversees audio, graphic design, video and written content that helps the local churches of Holston stay...