When Jesus called his disciples to join him in His mission, support Him, and learn first hand from traveling and witnessing His daily work, the Bible tells us He used the phrase “Follow me.” Many Christians today would say that they too are followers of Jesus. However, the word “follow” is now used so commonly that the deep meaning of Jesus’ words may be lost.
In our vernacular the word “follow” is most often used regarding social media platforms — notably Twitter or Instagram. This understanding of the word conveys a shallow and mostly one-way relationship where the follower is provided with everything from inspirational content, to humor, to outrage, to pithy one-liners. Maybe it’s a friend or family member we follow to see the latest pictures of their kids, cooking, or travels. It could be a talented or creative person whose hobby interest you share, and you’re able to learn new things or get ideas and inspiration. You get the idea.
This definition of “follow” is not what Matthew had in mind when he said to Jesus,
Matthew 8:19 “Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.”
Or what Jesus had in mind when he said to Matthew,
Matthew 9:9 “Follow me.”
The word “follow” as Jesus and Matthew use it has a deeper meaning than our modern understanding. They speak of a relationship, a union, a commitment to each other. Through repentance and recognizing Jesus as the Son of God and His sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins, we begin a familial relationship with Him. As Paul puts it in Hebrews, “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.”
By saying “Follow me,” Jesus Christ — God’s Son — is not looking for a passive relationship where we just become a number on a ticker. He is asking us to join His family and partake in the richness that such a love provides. Wow — how good is God?!