Updated: May 2, 2019
Follow Me. These may be two of the most well known words of the Christian vocabulary, but sadly, they are two of the most misunderstood words too. Jesus walked the seashores of Galilee and called Simon, Andrew, James, and John to leave the fishing industry to follow him, and they immediately obeyed. Somehow, the Church today has effectively turned these two words into, “Walk the aisle, say the sinner’s prayer, and get your name on the church roll….”
The gospel accounts actually use two different Greek words to record this one call of Jesus. Between the call of these four fishermen, and then the call of the Levi the tax collector, both accounts occurring in all three of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), 3 of the 6 occurrences of the words “Follow Me” are a Greek word that is an imperative. This means that the words “Follow Me,” 3 of the 6 times, are written as a command. Once, in Luke 5:11, it’s the same word, but written in the aorist, or the past tense as something the men have already done. Twice, in Matthew 4:19 and in Mark 1:17, it’s an entirely different Greek phrase, an adverb, but one that certainly functions like a command.
Here’s the point: When Jesus calls these four men, and then Levi, Jesus is not sending them a polite invitation in the mail with a R.S.V.P. deadline. Rather, Jesus is commanding them to take action. The words “Follow Me” are not an invitation to be accepted, but they are a command to obey.
The church has painted the picture of Jesus, the perfect gentleman, standin