Conntecting the Dots

What Does it Mean to Follow Jesus?

“One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I’ll show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed Him.

“A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing nets. He called at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men” (Mark 1:16-20).

This account happened more than 2,000 years ago. But Jesus still calls people to follow Him today. I was eight years old when I chose to follow Him, but only as an adult did I really begin to understand what that meant. Here are three insights (of many) I’ve gleaned along the way:

  • Following Jesus means a shift in priorities.

“I’ll show you how to fish for people,” He said to Simon and Andrew. He didn’t say, “I’ll show you how to get rich quick,” or “I’ll show you how to become the best fisherman on the sea.” He focused on people. Following Him means people become our priority, too. Caring for them. Encouraging them. Introducing them to the best friend ever—Jesus.

  • Following Jesus means being stretched beyond the familiar.

The four fisherman in this story left their boats and nets to follow Jesus as He taught in synagogues, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, raised the dead, fed the masses, and more. This was new to them, and surely it was a stretching experience.

Likewise, we encounter new experiences when we follow Jesus, too. He might ask us to mentor a younger person, teach a Bible study, go on a missions trip. Following Him means being stretched but that’s okay because He’ll be with us and will give us courage and strength.

  • Following Jesus means counting a cost.

James and John left their dad to follow Jesus. I wonder what he said in that moment. Maybe he called after them, “Hey—what are you doing? I need you here! You can’t just walk away like that!” Maybe he watched them walk away, shaking his head and muttering under his breath about their impulsivity.

Following Jesus often involves a price. For me, it’s meant losing two parents while I was overseas for ministry purposes. It’s also meant financial sacrifice. But when I think of Jesus sacrificing His life on my behalf, who am I to withhold anything from Him?

Following Jesus also means discovering purpose for living, experiencing forgiveness from sin, peace during life’s tough stuff, confidence in knowing He holds my life in His hands, and the promise of eternal life. Following Him forever changed my life.

“Come, follow me,” says Jesus. What’s your response?

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