Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed Him.
“Stop the world; I want to get off!” It’s what some of us are saying –audibly or otherwise –as we’re bombarded daily by the tragic, complex, violent events that explode all about us. The storm warnings are out, and people, frustrated and fearful, are running for their lives in search of security or serenity that’ll blot out the disturbing threats to their well-being.
Those of us who are older, tend to reach back into some past generation and try to hang on to those forms and traditions with which we once felt secure, to set the clock back –at least to those post-depression or post-war days, that, in spite of our forgotten tragedies and problems, seem in retrospect so happy and secure. There are many who crawl further back into the womb of the church and cling desperately to the “horns of the altar” as a sanctuary from life’s vicious storms. Or they may latch on to those movements that feature religious ecstasy, the get-ready-for-heaven Gospel or the Christ-is-coming-soon emphasis in response to the convulsions of our world today.
The message of our Lord isn’t always comfortable, but this is His message to us in this hour: “Follow Me and I will make you become fishers of men.” He doesn’t give us permission to “get off” this calamitous ball of clay we call the world; He invites us –commands us –to follow Him into it, to serve Him and our fellow persons within it, knowing full well, as Christ did, the possible consequences of our obedience to Him. The strange and wondrous thing is that it’s precisely in such obedience, which results in loving commitment to people about us, that one discovers an out-of-this-world joy and security that cannot be taken from us by those tragic, complex, violent events that explode all about us. And God grants it to us for Jesus’ sake.
Mir nach! Spricht Christus, unser Held
“Come, follow Me,” the Savior spake, “All in My way abiding; deny yourselves, the world forsake, obey My call and guiding. O bear the cross, whate’er betide, take My example for your guide.”
“I teach you how to shun and flee what harms your soul’s salvation, your heart from ev’ry guile to free, from sin and its temptation. I am the refuge of the soul and lead you to your heavenly goal.”
A note about the song.
Johann Scheffler based this German hymn on Matthew 16:24. It appeared in his Heilige Seelenlust, 1668, entitled: “The Soul Encourages to the Following of Christ.” The hymn has been called “a masterpiece of Scriptural didactic (teaching) poetry.”
Charles S Robinson wrote a seeming response in his hymn: “Savior, I Follow on”, 1862, published in Songs of the Church: “Savior, I follow on guided by Thee; seeing not yet the hand that leadeth me. Hushed be my heart and still, fear I no further ill, only to meet Thy will my will shall be.”