“Here. After Me!”
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 4:19a “Follow Me,” He told them,. . .
To His first followers, Jesus capsulized Christian duty by defining what it means to be a Christ-follower. The Greek for “Follow Me” literally says, “Here. After Me!” The brothers were to follow Jesus physically as a way of picturing their willingness to follow Him spiritually.
Their pilgrimage had to begin with a head-change. These brothers had to choose. They knew Who Jesus was, and what He was demanding of them.
They had to decide whether or not to obey Him. A disciple is one who has determined to follow Jesus as the Master of his or her life at all cost.
Jesus is our leader. He must chart our course. It’s not His job to follow us around and fulfill our wishes. We are to walk behind Him in obedience.
Matt. 4:19b “. . .and I will make you. . .”
For Christ-followers, head-change leads to heart-change. What we learn alters us inside. Jesus’ “I will make you” tells us He always intends to change His followers. “Come as you are to Jesus” is good counsel. Also come realizing He wants to change us for the better. Following Jesus is a progressive life–always trusting more, and reaching higher heights of faith.
The Holy Spirit indwells us as an internal change agent. Heart-change is a supernatural activity. We cannot improve ourselves in our own strength. Resist the pull to shift from justification by faith to sanctification by works.
As long as we live, keep praying, “Jesus, change me, improve me.” Confess failure freely and often, “Lord, I am weak in caring for the lost; improve me. I don’t strongly desire to do daily devotions; change me. I do not love my spouse enough; better me.” The list goes on and on. Disciples unendingly let the Holy Spirit make them more and more yielded to Jesus.
Matt. 4:19c “. . .fish for people!”
Head-change and heart-change cause a hand-change. Behavior has to be modified. We can’t know for sure our head and heart have changed unless our hands change. We have to do the mission assigned to us by Jesus.
A straight line can be drawn from this “Follow Me” command to the “Go ye” Great Commission. Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). Every believer is to be actively making disciples.
We are to make disciples who make disciples. The only way we can know someone has been discipled, is when he or she wins another disciple to Jesus. We have not discipled someone until that person has won someone to Jesus, some say not until we have led someone to win a person who has also won someone to Jesus, for only then can we be sure discipleship happened.
The sequence of head-change to heart-change to hand-change is vital. Christ-followers are to do more than only acquire information. Attaining knowledge is vital to Christian growth, but we too often err by limiting discipleship to conveying a body of information from one person to another.
One problem we face is our inability to give a clear definition to the word discipleship. It has become a timeworn coin. Buffalo nickels illustrate this. They and wheat back pennies are my favorite coins. Due to a poor design, Buffalo nickels are extremely vulnerable to wear. Finding one in extra fine condition is rare. A similar fate has befallen the word discipleship.
People have worn it out, giving it multitudes of definitions. The word has for sure lost its sharp, crisp luster and focus. I would like to replace the word discipleship with the word training, which by definition entails hand-change caused by head-change and heart-change. Training entails learning to do based on desire and knowledge. I discussed with our staff the possibility of substituting train for disciple. They felt this would confuse, not clarify.
I know they are right, but this still leaves me with the dilemma of finding an effective way to convince us we are not merely learners. We are trainees being taught how to do something. A major distinction between Jesus and the Rabbis of His day was; they conveyed information. Training was not their agenda, but was Jesus’. He trained the Twelve to win souls.
We need to ponder the question, is what we are calling discipleship producing a life change in us and/or others? Is training happening?
If we are not being changed in order to change others, we are basking in knowledge solely for knowledge’s sake. Hyman Appelman, noted Southern Baptist Evangelist, warned me 35 years ago of the dangers of the inward focus of the so-called deeper life movement. He said it produced believers who knew a lot, but rarely led an unbeliever to Jesus.
Fishing is a good metaphor to describe our calling to be winning unbelievers. They wander and stray in the world as if in a huge, troubled sea (Calvin). Their only hope is to be gathered by people casting the Gospel net.
The disciples went from being fish-fished-for to being fishermen. In Jesus’ Kingdom, converts are to become converters. The found are to find.
God saved us in order that we might help others be saved. We are to pull people from the state of lostness into the realm of found-ness. “The work of fishing men and women out of the sea of sin, the work of rescuing people from the breakers of hell, is the greatest work the church is called by God to do . . . . (Evangelism is) the sob of God” (MacArthur).
To emphasize the urgency of rescuing the lost, D. L. Moody told the story of a Lake Erie shipwreck that happened one stormy night at Cleveland. As the ship neared the harbor, the upper lights, denoting the location of the city, were visible, but the storm had knocked out the lower lights, the ones down near the coastline that shone across the water to show where the rocks were. Deeming it too dangerous to stay out on the Lake, the Captain chose to try to enter the harbor. In the dark, his ship crashed and many died. Moody challenged his listeners by saying the lights in Heaven are always shining brightly, but what about the lower lights we are to shine? Jesus, the Lighthouse, shows the harbor is accessible. How are we doing as the lower lights, showing people the way into the harbor? Due to this story, Moody’s songleader Philip Bliss wrote, “Brightly beams our Father’s mercy, From His lighthouse evermore, But to us He gives the keeping Of the lights along the shore. Let the lower lights be burning! Send a gleam across the wave! Some poor struggling, fainting seaman You may resuce, you may save.”
We are called to fish for people, to win them for Jesus. I pray a head-change would cause us to obey, a heart-change would cause us to care, and a hand-change would cause us to be about the urgent task of making disciples.