“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” — Matthew 4:19
Right after John the Baptizer identified the Messiah, Simon Peter met Jesus for the first time. After seeing water turned into wine at the wedding feast, he was back to his fishing business until one day when Jesus said, “Come, follow me.”
That personal invitation is life-changing for anyone willing to hear and obey, so maybe those words belong at the top of our “Jesus’ Most Important Words” list.
We need to be close enough to hear Jesus’ invitation.
In his letter, Peter tells us God doesn’t want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9), so he must be calling everyone. Could it be that some people are too far away and can’t hear? Or maybe they have their ears closed, not wanting to hear.
I know a man who had lived a rough life and didn’t have much interest in God until one day, he decided not to let his wife go to church alone. At the end of the sermon, he walked to the front and surrendered his life to the Lord. When asked why he went, he said, “Because he called my name.” The man was a stranger to the preacher, so the one who called had to be someone who knew the man’s heart.
This time, the man was close enough to hear, and he listened.
The reward must be seen as greater than our sacrifice.
As great as God is, we won’t approach him unless we believe the reward makes the effort worthwhile (Hebrews 11:6). After following Jesus for a long time, Peter asked about the payoff (Mark 10:28–30). Evidently, he wanted some assurance that he had made a good choice in leaving everything. Jesus promised a hundred-fold blessing in this life and eternal life to come, an assurance that following Jesus was more valuable than everything else put together.
The vision is easily lost.
Perhaps the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind,” applies. After stepping out of the boat and walking on the water toward Jesus, Peter felt the wind, saw the high waves, and began to sink. Then Jesus took his hand, and they both walked back to the boat. Vision restored.
When present at the trial, Peter swore he wasn’t a disciple of Jesus and denied knowing him at all (Matthew 26:74–75). Vision lost. But outside the courtyard, he wept bitterly, where I believe he had a fresh heart-to-heart surrender to Father God. From that experience, he gained strength to follow Jesus’ instruction: “After you have repented, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32). Vision restored.
We go wherever Jesus takes us.
When a man asked to follow him, Jesus said, “The Son of Man has no home where he can lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). He was saying that he had no hotel reservations, no mapped-out plan for where he would be the next day. His was a step-by-step journey doing “only that which he heard from the Father” (John 5:30).
Anytime we’re following, we’re trusting someone else’s sense of direction above our own. That could not be more true than what we must do to follow Jesus. He knows where he’s taking us, but we can only know that whatever the journey turns out to be, the finish line will be wonderful beyond words.
We can’t afford to be so busy with our fishing business that we miss Jesus’ call to “follow me.” We should drop our nets and go, because that invitation is for now, not later.
“People cannot come to me unless the Father draws them, and I will raise them up on the last day.” — John 6:44