Jesus Asks for More
by Bill Hull
What was Jesus asking from his followers? When he said, “Follow me,” what did he expect them to do? Once again, the answer is more straightforward than we might imagine. He asked them to leave their tax booth, drop their nets, and leave their home behind, and he implied that he would handle the rest. Jesus didn’t ask for a creedal recital or a formal confession. He asked for a demonstration of just enough faith to begin walking with him.
The story of Peter and Andrew provides an illustration. “One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, ‘Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!’ And they left their nets at once and followed him” (Matt. 4:18–20 NLT).
Mark’s account fills in the rest of the story. “A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. He called them at once, and they followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men” (Mark 1:19–20 NLT). James and John may have already warned their father that this might happen, since they had probably already met Jesus. So Zebedee was left holding the nets, but he probably wasn’t surprised. He knew the affect Jesus had on his sons. Yet regardless of what he thought, they left to follow Jesus.
Did leaving behind profession and family qualify as “saving faith?” The truth is that we don’t have a nice, neat compartment into which we can place these men. We can’t say they were Christians because no church or organization existed at this point. All we can say for sure is that they were followers of Jesus and had much to learn from him at this point.
Footnote: More on Come and See
The Come and See period was about four months and is recorded in John 1:35–4:46. While this episode with Levi is recorded early in Matthew, it is placed after the Come and See period when calendared out in a Harmony of the Gospels, and begins the Come and Follow Me period as recorded in Matthew, which is about ten months long. For further explanation, see Bill Hull, Jesus Christ, Disciplemaker (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004). Robert Thomas and Stanley Gundry, The NIV Harmony of the Gospels (New York: HarperCollins, 1988) is a good resource for seeing the stages of Jesus’ four calls to his followers: Come and See, Come and Follow Me, Come Be with Me, and Remain in Me. This four-fold call is derived not only from Scripture but was also noted by A.B. Bruce, The Training of the Twelve(Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1988), 11.
This excerpt has been adapted from Conversion and Discipleship.
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