We hear the phrase, “follow me” a lot.
This week the events at the capitol building on January 6th were weighing heavy on my mind. People telling one another follow me here, let’s do this, follow me, let’s go. People flying from all over the country because someone said to them, follow me to the capitol. The lady who was among the 5 who were killed that day flew in from California to follow someone to her death.
Of course, with the new inauguration we will continue to hear different voices now from politics, media, and our Facebook friends saying follow me, this is the way to go. We’re also hearing from many as well, follow me, or else. A friend made a small joke about following someone. “Where are we going and why am I in this handbasket?!”
I keep thinking of all of the voices that we hear that cry out to us, follow me! It is pretty blatant online and on the television. Follow me by buying this product and look how happy and skinny you’ll be! Follow me and take this medicine and all will be well (just ignore the man in the monotone voice saying how bad taking this medicine can really be). We even have options on our phones to “follow” someone.
Then there is the phrase that we have used and been told so very often, “follow your heart.” I mean it sounds wonderful and absolutely like something you should do and sometimes it works. But there is also all of those times when our hearts have absolutely no clue where they should go or what they want. What happens when so often our hearts are conflicted, or we know without a doubt that where our hearts are telling us to go is absolutely no good for us at all.
I’ve found that often our tendency is to try and follow too many people, ideas, and plans. To try and scatter shot it out there and hope that one of the horses we pick will win. But then when the going really gets tough, we find out pretty quickly that all of those people and ideas out there in the world that said, “follow me” or so often, nowhere to be found.
Then there are the times in life when we really don’t know where to go or who to follow. Who do we follow when we receive that medical diagnosis? We try to follow the doctors, any doctor sometimes, but we find out pretty quickly that while the doctors know a lot, but they don’t know everything, and they don’t know where to go when the medicine stops working. Who do we follow when a loved one is passing away and we can’t follow them into death? Or who do we follow when we are nearing our passing, what is the light to guide us in that darkness?
Jesus said, in our reading today, “follow me” to some fisherman by the sea of Galilee. These men, Simon Andrew, James, and John all were people just like you and me. They we’re not especially holy or saint-like people, they didn’t have any special knowledge or insight, they were just people on a boat doing their thing and Jesus called to them and said, “follow me.” When they heard Jesus call to them, they dropped everything, literally everything, and followed Him.
I love that. When you see the real deal, you chase after it because it is the only thing that matters.
Think of this way. If you were out in the middle of the ocean with no one else around, splashing with just moments of strength and breath are left, then suddenly a boat appears. On the boat there’s a guy’s throwing a life preserver at you and hollering, “follow me, come on.” What do you do? You follow him. It is clear as day.
When those first disciples were mending their nets by the sea, they were drowning, and they knew it. They were drowning in sin and the brokenness of their lives and world. They were drowning in fear and not knowing which way to turn. They were drowning in a sea of other voices all of which were drowning as well.
It is no different for us. We all are drowning. All of us. Drowning in sin and brokenness, drowning in our own mortality, drowning in a sea of voices that are drowning too. Really, feel that last picture, all of the other voices that are saying “follow me, follow me” they’re drowning too, just like us. What sense does it make for one drowning person to tell another drowning person, follow me, when you’re both drowning the exact same way?! In a sea of drowning voices all saying follow me, who do you want to actually listen to and follow?
Well, obviously, the guy on the boat.
When it comes right down to it, every voice out there that says “follow me, follow me” are all the same. Even if they sound different, look different, or say different things. They’re all the same because they’re all drowning in the sea, just like you and me. The voice we want to follow is the one that is not drowning in the sea but is on the boat pulling people in.
Jesus is the guy on the boat.
Jesus is the only one who through all of our history, who has lived a human life, died a human death drowned by the same sin and mortality that we are drowning in, but was bodily resurrected from the dead on Easter morning, is alive and well seated at the right hand of God, and comes back in the boat of salvation, the ark of the Christian Church, to come and rescue other drowning souls from the sea and bring them to the safety of the eternal shores.
When, it comes down to it, it is as simple as that. In a world filled with drowning voices crying out, “follow me, follow me,” listen to the guy on the boat, Jesus Christ, and follow Him.