“Follow Me and I will make you become fishers of men”Mark 1:17
The Gospels record Jesus calling men to follow Him several times. At times it was just one person being called at other times more than one.
The initial call to follow Jesus is that one may learn who He is and learn His ways but Jesus attached an outcome for those who genuinely followed Him – they would become fishers of men (Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17). They would reproduce. In order for reproduction to occur several things need to be in the heart of the disciple.
Not everyone will accept Jesus’ terms. Some make excuses (Matthew 8:19-22; Luke 9:57-62). Some weigh the cost and see it as too high, preferring the riches of this world rather than riches in Christ. The rich young ruler was this kind of man (Matthew 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22).
The cost of self sacrifice, taking up one’s cross, is too much for many, even many who claim to be followers of Jesus. How can one be a genuine follower of Jesus Christ and not be willing to become a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1)? Jesus willingly went to the cross and died for our sin so how is it possible to refuse to follow His lead to be a living sacrifice and still call ourselves followers of Jesus?
The great commandment is that we love both God and our fellow man (Matthew 22:37-39). The kind of love that we will have when following Jesus is His kind of love described in 1 John 3:16 – “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” and John 3:16. To refuse to love in this way is a refusal to follow Jesus.
Recorded by all three synoptic Gospel writers are Jesus words, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23). That they all recorded this surely means we must accept that this is a water-shed condition of any disciple of Jesus especially if we wish to work with Him in making more disciples (Matthew 28:19).
Many of us want to choose our own place of sacrifice and ask Jesus to come along and bless it but for us to be followers it means discerning the place of sacrifice that He has chosen for us and follow Him there. As Jesus said, “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me, and where I am, there My servant will be also” (John 12:26).