“As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea-for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.”
How do we become willing to follow Jesus? Not just follow Him when it is convenient and glamorous, but to follow Him into the muck and mire of life, where things are ugly and smelly, so that the will of our Father in Heaven can be fulfilled. What conditions make such following possible?
Let’s put this scripture into context. In the beginning of this chapter, Jesus was tempted by Satan. The temptation concludes with Jesus exercising His authority and sending Satan away. Jesus then moves to the region of Galilee, where two prophecies are fulfilled.
Mat 4:14 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:
Mat 4:15 “THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI, BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE GENTILES–
Mat 4:16 “THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.”
From this second prophecy it is clear that the presence of Jesus in this region produced a powerful affect. People sitting in darkness saw a great light. Where did this light come from? Jesus had just fasted and successfully resisted Satan’s temptation. He was able to resist temptation, because there was no sin in Him. The absence of sin is directly related to the ability to exercise spiritual authority. Jesus begins His public ministry at this point.
“From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”” (Matthew 4:17)
Jesus is standing in the light of the Kingdom of Heaven and preaching. The light is so strong that sinners can see it. He is preaching “repentance”, because that is what is required for sinners to walk in the light of God. He is saying, turn your mind and heart away from the world and focus on God — seek God’s forgiveness for all your sins. After instructing people to repent, He then approaches the fishermen and says, “Follow me.”
Sequences in the Bible are important. First Jesus shines light on people, then He asks them to “repent,” and finally He says “follow me.” Sadly, I spent many years trying to follow Jesus without repenting my sins and asking Him to help me change my ways. In that state, I lived with a high level of frustration. I experienced His light, but He wouldn’t say “follow me.” He just kept showing me my sins and suggesting that I change my ways. I didn’t want Him to show me my sin; I wanted Him to say “follow me.” Finally, I got it! I needed to repent for the long standing sin in my life, I had to change the situations that caused me to sin every day, and I had to learn to pay attention to the Holy Spirit, who was persistently convicting me of sins.
After a few months of in-depth repentance, life style changes, and sorrow over lost and wasted years, I could begin to recognize His voice. I no longer ask Him, “Lord, where are you leading me?” Instead, I simply confirm the fact that I am willing to follow.
Lord Jesus, I pray that you will continue to teach me how to follow without resisting or questioning your leadership. I have proven that I can make a mess of my life, and You have proven that You can straighten out any mess. I am willing to follow even if You don’t reveal the details. Amen.