To Follow or Not to Follow




Our eyes follow along the familiar New Testament passage in Matthew 4:18-22:


18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.


Here we meet the first two of twelve men Jesus chooses to carry His message, His truth, into all the world and establish the church.


Their father had surely been training them for years to know how to handle the boat, the nets, and the oars. They had learned as little boys how hard the life of fishermen would be, the long hours spent mending the nets, casting them into the sea, and hoping that God would provide the catch they needed to provide for their family. They had been with their father in calm seas and rough, under the blazing sun and the darkness of the night. Their hands had grown rough and their skin had turned to bronze.


But now, in one moment in time, Jesus walked along the shore and invited them to follow Him. He chose them. They weren’t the rich young men who studied the Torah at the feet of the rabbi. They were the uneducated, the poor, but the ones who had already learned to depend on God for all they needed.


It’s amazing to pause as I read the passage and note they followed Him “at once”. What caused them to respond immediately? How loud was His voice? What tone did He use? Did they even know what He meant or what He was asking?


I think they likely did not comprehend all they were saying “yes” to that day. They were being asked to “walk the same road”, but it was to walk a road rather than live on the water of the sea.


What did they know of a life away from the sea, the nets, and the boats?


What do we know or understand when He bids any one of us to follow Him? We are not tenders of nets and boats, but we too are invited to become fishers of men and we do not even know much about being fishers of fish!


What I learn when I read and study those whose life has been fishing is that it is a hard, dirty business lived day in and day out on the water or near it. The smell of the fish, the sea, the kelp, and all the water disgorges permeates the pores of the fishermen so they too smell much the same.


So much of the world is made up of water. Though we are made of the dirt of the earth, much of us is made up of water as well. We rely on it for our lives every day. Without it, we cannot survive.


Leslie Leyland Fields reminds us: “Wherever there is water, the thirsty and the dirty are there.”


Did Jesus know these fishermen along the shore that day were thirsty for the living water He could offer them? Did they know He could cleanse them from the dirt they did not see and could never wash away without Him?


He had chosen them.


Now they had chosen Him back without what seemed to be a lot of thought or pause to consider.


They had lived their lives on the hope for the next catch, the gamble the nets would not come back empty.


 Were they gambling on this stranger who had asked them to follow Him or did they recognize something in or about Him that spoke a message their hearts responded to even as John leaped in Elizabeth’s belly when Mary appeared in the doorway carrying Jesus in her womb?





20 thoughts on “To Follow or Not to Follow

  1. My favorite thing about the Bible, other than the Word itself, is putting the characters into a frame of reference-real life. What things were like for them, how they lived, the immensity of their conviction and what they gave up to follow Christ. Sometimes it’s easy to read the Bible as if it’s a book, it’s hard to equate with our lives. And you have written this beautifully. I can place myself, at least as much as my mind can comprehend, into the lives of Peter and Andrew, to see and feel what they felt.

    Wouldn’t this be an amazing thing? To live on the earth when Jesus walked? I can’t imagine leaving my life and family to follow a stranger. To know that I was doing what I was supposed to do and know that it was what I was called to do.

    Following is hard, and I will admit to fighting it, the more I fight the more I know that this must be something I am meant to do. But that doesn’t make it easier sometimes. But I have to keep reminding myself that God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.

  2. Reminds me of when God gave me the word, FOLLOW, a few years ago. As a seasoned believer, I look back and wonder if was a reminder to continue to follow Him through the coming storms. Little did I know then the difficult times that were ahead. Following can be hard because it stretches my faith muscles to the point of PAIN. Will I be like Job and follow no matter what the circumstances are? Will I continue to trust not in my own understanding believing that He knows best for me and will work all things for my good? It is my prayer that I will be a faithful follower to the end and that I will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 🙂

  3. Hi Pam, I’m so glad to be your neighbor over at #LiveFreeThursday this week! 🙂 I’ve been pondering on this thought: “What do we know or understand when He bids any one of us to follow Him?” because it’s just so true! We want to know the parameters before we feel safe to follow. But then, it wouldn’t be faith, would it? Thanks so much for these inspiring words today! –Blessings!

  4. I wonder if I too, will ever be a so engulfed in the Living Water, that I will even ‘smell’ like Christ? These men truly were examples of a faith that I have hope to one day grasp, and they didn’t even have the full story when they began to follow Jesus!

  5. I have always would like to think that there was something about them that intrigued them. I also have heard that it was normal back then that rabis would find young men and teach them. Maybe they expected just that and got tons more than they ever expected. But there must have been something about Him either way for them to give up everything. a lot to think about. your neighbor at coffee for your heart

    1. I think that’s true, but from what I was reading it would not have been as likely to choose fishermen. Thanks for your reflection and stopping by. Blessings on you!

  6. So beautifully written and thought provoking. I guess I’ve never really thought about how they dropped everything. We KNOW that it was Jesus our savior, but at the time they would have had no reason to know.

    1. Truly! I think it is so easy to read the scriptures and not pause to think/reflect on what they knew at the time and didn’t. We have the benefit AND the responsibility of seeing it all looking backward. Blessings on your day! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  7. Hi Pam! Oh my gosh, I just love that quote about water and the dirty and thirsty. That is really true. I could think about that for a week.
    I often wonder what the Apostles thought when they said ‘yes’ and dropped everything. I’m sure they were on the lookout for the Messiah, but there were so many false ones. How did they know Jesus was the ‘real deal’? As you asked, did they just know it from his voice?
    I think it all boils down to faith. The same faith that I have to have to follow him…somehow knowing that he is the one.
    Great food for thought this morning!

  8. Thanks for taking us back there, with Him, once again. I feel like I’m an observer, I ponder the questions you’ve put on the table.

    The gentle reminder that we’ve been chosen is sweet music to my ears … thank you, Pam.

  9. Such a great reflection on that Scripture — and I love Leslie’s words.

    You’re reminding me, too, of that great chapter in her book in which she examines Peter’s “Unfollowing” of Christ — and her thoughts on his outburst: I don’t know this man. It occurs to me that none of us dare say that we really “know” the ways or could predict the next move of our wild and wonderful God.

  10. Wow, to think that the Father chooses us, that Jesus calls us, is incredible. I wouldn’t come to Jesus if He had not called me; I can’t imagine my life without the grace of God on it and the power of the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ giving His life so that I could live, but I know that I wouldn’t have come to Jesus if He had not called this poor wretched soul.

    This is incredible. It reminds me that salvation is all of grace, not of works. And that is so so amazing.

    1. It is indeed incredible and even though I know it and have heard it for a long time, it still blows me away!! Blessings on your day, friend, as you delight in His selection of you❤️

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