27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him
This is how Jesus normally called people to become His disciples. Two simple words, but loaded with the power of Jesus and the cost of being a disciple. As Jesus walked the earth, He was very aware of what He was here for. He knew very well what His mission was and He had a plan to accomplish that mission. And a key part of accomplishing the mission would be to assemple a team of guys whose lives would be changed by being with Him for a few years and who in turn would change the world.
For each of the guys that Jesus called this way, Peter, Andrew, John, James, Levi, and others, these two words marked a definitive moment when their lives would never be the same again. Remember these guys were Jews and they would have known very well what to “follow” a rabbi meant – give up your life, be with him, listen to, learn and internalise his teachings, become like him, do the things he tells you, do the things he does.
What Jesus shows us is that people don’t just suddenly become disciples all on their own. They don’t just stumble upon being His followers. It’s not something that happens by chance, it’s something that He directly and overtly called people to. It was a defining moment.
Here’s just one aspect of what this means for us today. We need to call people to disciples of Jesus. Paul understood this call when he said “Follow me as I follow Christ.” He was a disciple himself (i.e. “as I follow Christ”) and he was unashamed to call others to become disciples. Disciples of who? Well firstly of himself (follow me) but ultimately of Christ (as I follow Christ). I heard Francis Chen say “the only way to really make disciples is to make disciples”. Profound! It’s not going to happen by accident. Our mandate is to call people to a life of wholeheartedly and rigorously following Jesus. We need to call people to come alongside of us as we pursue the one Person who really matters, the one who can make us all into what we need to be.
And don’t water it down. All Jesus needed to do at that time was to say to these guys “Follow me”. They knew exactly what that meant, and that’s why they left everything and followed Him. Today, people don’t know what it means to be a disciple. We need to tell them. We need to tell them that there is a big cost to it. That they would need to surrender…everything! That it will cost them ambition, popularity, money, time, relationships, everything! But that it’s worth it. Then we need to stick it out together with them to grow in Jesus and to all that He has for us.
So let’s not wait for disciples to magically fall into our lap – let’s make them!