I can remember in Kindergarten always raising my hand with all the passion I could muster when the teacher asked who wanted to be the leader. We would sing the song from Peter Pan: “Following the leader, the leader the leader; we’re following the leader wherever he may go.” I liked to lead. I had to learn to like to follow.
Jesus begins His public ministry taking up the cry of John the Baptist, who has been imprisoned, with “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near“. This was not a call for us to feel sorry for our sins or just to accept forgiveness for them, but rather to choose a different and wiser pathway of living.
He begins by calling His very first disciples (it’s the word “mathetes” and means “student, or learner“) who are to follow their leader, the King of a new Kingdom. In the New Testament, the word “kingdom” means “rule, reign, authority“, rather than a place. So, the Kingdom of Heaven meant the rule or the reign of Heaven brought to earth. Matthew used “Kingdom of Heaven” instead of “Kingdom of God” because Jewish people out of reverence for the holy name of the Lord, would not mention “God“, so he substituted “heaven“. This is not denying the reality of a future Kingdom in Heaven, but rather that the rule of Heaven was being brought to the earth, not actually Heaven itself. SO, God sent Jesus and Jesus called followers who would follow His leadership and learn how to bring the rule and reign of God’s Heavenly Kingdom to this earth.
Not too long ago, I was reading this passage about the disciples being called, and I was struck by the phrase “at once” or “immediately” they left their nets and followed Him. And I thought, “What would have caused them to drop what they were doing to follow Jesus? Why would they immediately do such a thing to a total stranger?” So I looked up Jewish culture and found a truth that caused this statement to make perfect sense.
In Biblical times, the most affluent Jewish families sent their firstborn boys to the temple steps to listen to the wisdom of the scribes and teachers of the law, in hopes that one day, they would step into their roles when they died. Each of those scribes were always looking for their apprentice, the one who would carry on when he died. If you were not from a wealthy home, you went straight to work.
Can you just imagine being the fisherman who longed to be on the temple steps but had to deal with fish and fixing torn nets all day? Can you just feel the lack of self-worth they must have felt to see the other boys being given such special treatment while they headed to the lake?
But day after day, the wealthy boys would come to the temple steps and learn. And daily the scribe would look for his “one“. And when that young boy grew in wisdom and knowledge and in favor with that scribe, the day would come for the scribe to pick him to follow him. And to chose him, he would say two simple words, “Follow me.” And immediately, that young man left his father and mother and followed this scribe. He began calling him “Rabbi” or “teacher“, and he imitated everything the Rabbi did and said.
So now, it makes perfect sense that when Jesus said two simple words, “Follow Me“, those fishermen immediately dropped their nets and followed Jesus. They had longed to hear those words their whole lives. Finally, someone saw value in them. Finally, someone was willing to give them a chance to be somebody. Finally, they had a chance to be significant.
What does this have to do with me and you?
Jesus gave you value when He said to you, “Follow Me“. If there was a time when you heard the call of the Lord for you to follow Him, and you accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, it is because He sees great value in you. You are a significant part of His Kingdom. You have a special and specific role to play in advancing God’s Kingdom on this earth.
Those fisherman dropped their nets to follow Jesus; to follow the Leader wherever He may go. And while the Jewish leaders wanted a political leader who would deliver them for Roman rule, Jesus came as a servant leader to bring spiritual rule to the hearts of the people.
Kingdom Living Knows Your Value And Gives Yourself Completely To Following The King
Jesus begins teaching and preaching and healing. He is showing them what living in the Kingdom is like. But He is not only proclaiming the presence of the Kingdom, He is practicing the reality of its presence by works of healing.
Kingdom Living Not Only Proclaims The Love Of God, But Practices It
Are you trying really hard to be the leader or are you learning to be a follower? Have you never understood that the reason God called you and saved you was because He knows the value, the seeds of greatness, that He placed inside of you to advance the Kingdom in the hearts of those around you, for such a time as this? What do you need to “drop” in order to follow Jesus more fully? Have you been proclaiming His love but not practicing it? Maybe today, would you join me in saying, “Lord, I surrender my life totally and completely to you.” ?