Follow (verb): to come after; to engage in as a calling or way of life; to watch steadily; to keep the mind on; to subscribe to the feed of (something or someone) especially on Social Media
Most people I’ve met are familiar with the children’s game “Follow the Leader”. I played this a child and have played it with my children. Part of its appeal is that it can be played anywhere – in the car, in the house, in the yard, waiting in line, in the pool, and in the doctor’s office. Basically, one person acts as the leader, and everyone must follow behind and imitate everything the leader does.
I wonder if this game was inspired by Scripture?
The Gospels (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) all quote Jesus using the words “Follow me” as he gathers up his first disciples.
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.” Mark 1:16-17
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. Matthew 9:9
What fascinates me about these accounts is how the people responded. All gospels describe their responses as “at once” or “immediately” they left behind their belongings, their families, and their occupations to follow Jesus. The description used most commonly in Luke is that they “left everything”.
So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. Luke 5:11
To become a follower of Jesus means…
♥ putting the past behind
♥ stepping forth in faith and obedience
♥ setting aside our own desires and interests
♥ imitating the lifestyle and embracing the values of Christ
The word “Follow” has perhaps become diluted in the rise of social media. On platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, people “follow” each other without much thought. I “follow” many people, pages, and businesses on social media that I have no intention of imitating their lifestyles, nor of embracing their values.
Unfortunately, the use of the word in this manner might be influencing people as to what it means to follow Christ. On social media, I can follow someone without making any sacrifices, without leaving my comfort zone, or without changing anything about my life. I can follow people with whom I will never actually have a relationship.
Not so with following Christ!
Chapter 21 of the Gospel of John documents some of Jesus’ interactions with his disciples AFTER his resurrection. Even here, he uses the words “Follow Me!”(see verse 19).
This implies that “Follow Me” wasn’t just a directive during his time as a living man, but for all eternity.
As I studied the word “Follow” and the related scriptures, I stopped to meditate. I pictured Jesus looking into my eyes, stretching out his hand toward me. Gently, boldly, with a calm assurance and a hint of His great Peace, I heard him pronounce, “Follow me.”
My mind wandered into the abyss of reflection…
- Is “Follow Me” a command? A demand? A request? A plea?
- Does He say it with authority? compassion? urgency? encouragement? desperation? hope?
- Will He repeat it if I don’t respond “at once” or “immediately”?
- Is His delivery different based on to whom He is speaking?
Then the words of a song start ringing in my ears: “I Will Follow Him”.
This song dates back to the 1960s and was made popular by Peggy March (listen to her here). The lyrics indicate the song was meant to describe a woman’s love for her man, but when the movie Sister Act (1992) incorporated the song into a church worship service, sung by a choir of nuns, the imagery took a different turn.
♥ I love him, I love him, I love him. And where he goes I’ll follow, I’ll follow, I’ll follow…. ♥
One of the shortest and most powerful sentences in the Bible spoken by Jesus to his disciples. Words he still speaks today. Two simple words that translate into a life-changing and a life-giving decision.