It is the command most often given by Jesus. It is almost as if every person he saw potential for discipleship was on the receiving end of this challenging command. What was this common command from the lips of Jesus? Its not likely that it is the one we would at first think of. I think if I were asked the question without knowledge of the gospel accounts I would answer, “The great command to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.” He certainly gave that command often, but not nearly as often as the one we are focusing on. Many would likely say it is the command to have faith in him and in God. Again, he commanded people to have faith many times and said that faith is the work of God. But it isn’t his most common command.
The command that Jesus gave most often was just two words long, “follow me.” When he called Peter and Andrew he said, “Follow me” and they left the fishing boat and the nets behind to follow Jesus, not knowing at all where it would lead. When he called James and John he told them to “follow me”. They left their father in the fishing boat along with the servants and went after Jesus. We know that when Peter heard that call he was already a married man. It wouldn’t be long until Jesus and the apostles he had then called would be in the house of Peter and would heal his mother-in-law. Can you imagine what it would have been like to go home and tell your wife you have quit your job and committed to follow this man called Jesus? Think of the questions she must have asked him. “What are you going to be doing?”, “Where will you live?”, “How do you plan to make a living?” “When will you be back?”
He called Matthew the tax collector with the same command, “follow me.” He left his tax booth with all the money and receipts still laying there and followed Jesus. He asked the rich young ruler to go and sell his goods and give it to the poor and come follow him, but he wouldn’t pay the price to be a real disciple. In Luke 9:57-62 he invited others to follow him who had excuses why they couldn’t go right then so they were left behind.
The most important thing about this command is that it is the same one that he has given us. “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” We are in the place where Simon Peter was after the death and resurrection of Jesus. He didn’t know where things were headed from here. Jesus came to him by the sea and after giving advise on catching a boat load of fish he prepared them breakfast and began to talk with Peter. He asked him, “Do you love me more than these?” Peter promised he did love him. Jesus told him to shepherd his sheep. He asked Peter again if he loved him. Peter said he did and Jesus repeated the command to tend his sheep. A third time he asked the same question and got the same answer. Jesus told him to shepherd his sheep.
Then he took Peter off away from the others. He told him how he would die and challenged Peter one more time to “follow me.” Peter asked about John, but Jesus told him not to be concerned about John and follow him. It is interesting that it is Peter who records I Peter 2:21 “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”
The challenge is to the church as a whole, to a local church and for every individual member of the church to follow Jesus Christ in our daily lives. God promises us that if we keep studying his word seeing his face as one w look at in the mirror that his Spirit will transform us into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). According to Hebrews 1:1-3 Jesus is the exact image of his father. Folks in Arkansas would say, “he is the spitting image of his father.”
Just as Christ came to show us the Father, our mission is to show the world Jesus by how we follow him daily. Paul tells us to “have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) Peter challenges us to “Arm yourselves with the same attitude as Christ; because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin
How well are we doing as a church or as disciples in following our Lord and Savior: There is no greater mission: