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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Follow the leader

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In my younger years, I loved the game “follow the leader.”

With the right people playing, the game could go on for hours. The objective of the game is to do whatever the leader does to not be called “out.” For instance, if the leader walks to the right, everyone walks to the right behind the leader. Likewise, if the leader turns and walks to the left while patting their head, then those who are following the leader will follow behind the leader and turn left while patting their heads.

Follow the leader is the game that comes to mind when I think of Jesus recruiting his disciples in the book of Matthew (4:18-22).

The scriptures tell us that Jesus encounters two sets of brothers while walking on the shore of Lake Galilee. The first set was Peter and his brother Andrew and the other set was James and John the sons of Zebedee . Jesus said to them “follow me” – which, in this case, means to join oneself to a teacher to learn a way of life. What is mind blowing is they actually followed.

Jesus came on the scene and said, “follow me,” and without any questions these four men complied. Who are you? And where are you going? These would be preliminary questions most of us would ask if we were approached by a stranger who said, “follow me.” But they did not ask these questions; they followed Jesus.

One thing I learned from this encounter with Jesus is that when we follow the leader, that is, when we decide to follow Jesus, we relinquish our right to know and dictate our direction and destination. Jesus, the leader, knows the way and our role, as the followers, is to learn the way by following where Jesus leads.

I am reminded of a song that says, “Where he leads me I will follow…. I will go with him all the way.”

Do we go with him all the way? How do we respond when the invitation to follow Jesus is extended to us?

It is unnerving to walk away from what we know to follow a leader into uncharted areas of life. I wonder sometimes how nerve wrecking it was for Peter, Andrew, James and John to leave the familiarity of fishing to follow Jesus, with whom they were less familiar.

Likewise, with us today, how tempted are we to play it safe and not go with Jesus “all the way?”

It would behoove us to remember that we cannot play it safe and follow the leader. We have to choose. I choose to follow the leader and experience the adventure, every step brings me – to see that which we thought was impossible is possible – like telling the mountain to throw itself into the sea (21:21); like quieting the raging storms of life (8:23-27); like healing and restoring people back to their rightful place in life (8:1-4; 5-13; 14-16; 9:1-8; 18-26; 27-34).

I choose to follow the leader. What is your choice?

Rev. James O. Jackson, II is pastor of Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church, 2325 Hovey St Indianapolis, IN 46218. He can be contacted at (317) 924-2737 or jjackson@cts.edu.

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