Leading Begins by Following
Follow me. And I will make you fishers of men. Matthew 4:19
Simon Peter is called to follow Jesus in the midst of tangled nets, the taste of salty sweat on his tongue, fish slime, the snap of the sail, the cadenced pulse of the waves, and the customary burdens of the daily life of a fisherman.
Jesus says, “Follow me.”
Peter drops his nets and leaves everything to follow Jesus. He was the first to publicly confess Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. Aside from being the first to confess Christ, Peter was the first apostle to extend the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10). Peter’sleadership and teaching set the stage for the church’s expansion and growth throughout the apostolic age (Acts 1–15; 1 and 2 Peter). But, it all began by following.
Leading begins by following.
We, too, are called to follow Jesus amid the busy (and sometimes mundane) rhythms of daily life. We are to drop our proverbial nets and follow the Master.
Jesus uses a play on words with Peter [whose name is Petros] when he states in Matthew 16:18: “And I tell you that you are Peter [Petros], and on this rock [petra] I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
Note that Jesus says, “I will build my church.” There is a triumphant authority in this promise. “World missions is not ultimately dependent on human initiative or human wisdom or human perseverance. It is ultimately dependent on the power and wisdom and faithfulness of the risen and living Christ to keep this promise: ‘I will build my church.’ Not, ‘You will build my church.’ Or, ‘Missionaries will build my church.’ Or, ‘Pastors will build my church.’ But, ‘I will build my church.'”
Then in Matthew 28, Jesus speaks what is known as “The Great Commission,” the last words to the disciples before transcending to heaven: go make disciples.
Matthew 28:18-20: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
It is out of His own authority that Jesus calls his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, by baptizing them and teaching them what He has commanded. Jesus is present with them. He goes with His disciples as they go. He builds His church by His authority and through His presence with the disciples as they are sent into the world on mission.
It is God’s Mission, Missio Dei.