One of the lessons that Jesus has been teaching me over the last several years is the importance of walking with Him step by step. Now, I have also been committed to living this way. Yet, all to often I slip back into wanting to take the lead and make things happen for Jesus. The truth be told, it is about what Jesus wants to do through me.
One of the more popular Bible verses is found in Matthew 4:19. It is a verse that many learned about in Sunday School. “And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Now I need you to stop to ponder the profound offer that Jesus is making to His followers. Now, I know that in the context that He is speaking to the future leaders of the disciples, Peter and his brother Andrew, specifically. Yet, there is the practical application, of Jesus’ call in the lives of his followers. Just as a side note, Peter’s brother might be one of the most important disciples that you never knew about. He was the one who was first a follower of Jesus then brought his brother!
Let’s look at some insights on Jesus’ invitation in our lives. There are many examples of Jesus’ call to become His followers. It was true for the original disciples and it is true for us today. What this simple opening phrase communicates is that Jesus desires a relationship with you (and me). It is interesting when I first accepted Christ this was my priority too. Yet, over the years I fight this constant battle of protecting my time with the Lord. For me, it is because there are so many good distractions to what is really best. It has been said, “We often sacrifice what is best in our lives for what is true.” I have learned over the years that it is really a battle of self-disciple. I have found it necessary to have a plan, like a Bible reading plan. I also need to set a time. And the third leg of the stool is having a place. Now, let’s be honest, these are great helps, but if we do not have self-discipline, we will be hit and miss at best. I have found that self-discipline is really the overflow taking control of myself (self-control.) I have learned that taking control of small things in my life (like making your bed each morning) leads to taking control of those bigger things (spending time with God).
The second insight is that Jesus promised to train them. Now this is important when you consider that Peter and Andrew were professional fishermen. When it came to catching fish, these two men could teach the class. But notice Jesus words, “I will make you fishers of men.” I just want to focus on those first three words, “I will make…” It is a reminder that when a person accepts Christ, Jesus becomes the discipler, or trainer. A study of the Gospel reveals that Jesus did this step by step in Peter and Andrew’s lives over a period of about three years. But it did not stop there because at the end of His time he reminded all his followers that, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,” (John 14:16) Jesus simple words reminds us that following Him is a step by step process. This is when we become the most effective for Him. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
I am constantly reminded in my life and in the lives of others that we are not taking life step by step. The results are often anger, bitterness, discouragement and stress. The key of course is letting Jesus lead. Could Jesus be calling out to you with the same invitation he offered Peter and Andrew? “And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson