Title: Follow Me to the Cross
Text: Mark 1:118; Matthew 28: 18-20
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
The earthly ministry of Jesus began right here when He began to call disciples. For our parts, we need to recognize the fact that this was His very first command to the disciples: “Follow Me!”
The truly remarkable thing about this calling is that they complied immediately and without hesitation, and in simply dropping their nets in obedience to His call, they left not only their regular daily lives aside, but their very livelihoods as well.
Would we dare to do that in obedience to His calling?
Over the next three years or so, they followed Jesus where ever He went; they travelled together, ate together, prayed together, laughed together, cried together, slept together… they were together nearly all of the time. During these years, Jesus taught them God’s ways, God’s priorities, God’s love for humanity and God’s way for them to move forward in His service. They came to discover that the ways of God ran counter to the ways of Men for living as God’s servants was quite different than what they would probably have expected it to be; it was both counter-intuitive and counter-cultural.
In ancient times there were no great universities as we know them, and a person was educated and trained as a disciple of a master in the way Jesus taught and trained His disciples. When that process ended, the disciples were said to be those who knew what the master knew, and then who did what the master had done: They were to become makers of the next generation of disciples as masters themselves.
On that fateful day when Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem in triumph, as the Son of David, Messiah, His disciples were not simply following Him into town, they were following Him to the cross.
Over the next few days a great many things would happen. One of the Twelve would betray Jesus into the hands of those who would kill Him, the other eleven would be scattered and flee into hiding, and Jesus would be murdered.
Oh, and by the way, Jesus would accomplish His Father’s eternal purpose and save Mankind from sin and even from death itself.
Yet even then, Jesus had not quite finished His job; He had one final command to give to His remaining disciples, but not before He confirmed everything He had taught them and rose from the grave:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
With this Jesus passed the torch to the disciples, and they became Apostles. With this Jesus demonstrated what the whole purpose of the prior three years had actually been, what following Him really entailed− Jesus showed them (and us) what God’s righteousness and love looked like in actual practice: Making disciples who in turn, make disciples.
In this act, God’s love is actively on display for it entails bringing the Good News of God’s amazing love to all who will receive it so that they may receive not only forgiveness of sin, but victory over death in the gift of eternal life. Yet as great as that is, it is only the beginning, for in sharing that love, we continue to mentor and nurture until the recipients of God’s amazing grace are able to share it with others, and in this process we find the greatest and most selfless act of love in existence: Building the Kingdom of God as a beacon of hope to all the world.