Follow Me, Boys (Matt 4:18-22)

By | August 18, 2013


Matthew 4:18-22 (NRSV)
[18] As [Jesus] walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen.
[19] And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”
[20] Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
[21] As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them.
[22] Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.


     This morning as we continue our series “The Gospel According to Disney,” the sermon title is based on both the Scriptural call of Jesus to Follow Him and the title of one of Disney’s movies starring Fred MacMurry. It was also the debut of Kurt Russell. Fred MacMurray starred in seven Disney movies and Kurt Russell starred in twelve.

     “Follow Me, Boys” is based on the life of Lem Siddons. Lem was part of a traveling band who had a dream of becoming a lawyer. He decided settle down in a small town where he takes a job as a clerk in a general store. While trying to fit in and impress a young woman, he volunteers to become scoutmaster of the newly formed Troop 1. The more he becomes involved in the Scout Troop, the less he thinks about becoming a lawyer. Kurt Russell plays one of the boys whose life is changed by Lem’s guidance and love. The title come from the marching song he had them sing.

     We sort of have marching songs as well, hymns like “Onward Christian Soldiers; Here I Am, Lord; Jesus, Calls Us; Heralds of Christ, and a whole slew of others. The point is, we are called by Jesus. He calls us and says: “Follow Me.”



     I’ve always been amazed and intrigued by the call of the Disciples. They were all there on beach. Peter and Andrew were fishing with their casting nets, minding their own business. A little ways down the beach were James and John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. If we could have listened in maybe they were discussing this ne preacher, Jesus.

     I picture Jesus casually walking along the beach and as he drew close to Peter and Andrew, he paused and watched for a while. Then, as if making up his mind, he walked over and said: “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

     And immediately; no hesitation, no questions asked, immediately, Peter and Andrew laid down their nets and followed Jesus.

     Then Jesus pulled up alongside James and John working with their father out in the boat and he called them in the same way. “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Again, there wasn’t the slightest bit of hesitation. Immediately they laid down their nets and followed, without so much as a

“See you later, Dad.”

     Jesus didn’t twist their arms. Instead it was quiet and simple and inviting. The look in Jesus’ eyes and the sound of his voice must have been enough to quell whatever fears Peter, Andrew, James and John must have had. They weren’t quite sure what they were getting themselves into as they laid down their nets, but deep inside they knew they couldn’t miss it. Those words, “Follow me!” had planted the seed of an unsettling excitement, a sort of a divine discontent with the ordinary. Jesus’ call was compelling and it laid claim to their lives.

     There’s a short scene in the movie Follow Me, Boys, which involves the wealthy widow who is getting a little forgetful. I love what she says when she realizes she can’t remember where she’s going: “I’ll find out when I get there.”

     I think that may have how the disciples must have felt. “Hey Peter, where are we going. I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out when we get there.” That’s how much of the Call to ministry feels like. We’re not really sure where God will lead us but we know one thing for sure, we’ve been Called by God and there’s no turning back. The call is simply “Follow Me.”


     The Call is simple but it lays claim to our lives, just like it did the lives of the disciples. It’s a call that reaches across time and space. It spans all generations and overcomes all racial, social, political and economic structures. It’s a call that reaches out to be heard and beckons to every individual in every walk of life. Once we’ve heard that call, it DOES plant a seed of an unsettling excitement. It fills us with a spiritual restlessness until we rest in Christ. It causes us to search for some deeper meaning and for a purpose in our life.

     I love the comics or the theological section of the paper as I call it. They’re such a mirror on society and it’s values. In an old Hagar The Horrible, Hagar is lying in bed wearing his Viking helmet and snuggled up under the covers with his teddy bear. Don’t ask me know how he sleeps in that helmet but there he is. Helga is in the other room, all you see are her words. She’s obviously trying to be a good supportive and encouraging wife, she says, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

     Still in bed, with this forlorn look on his face, Hagar says, “Sure, rub it in! Another day of boring drudgery. Fighting with people I don’t like. Running as fast as I can to stay in the same place. Why do I even bother getting out of bed?”

     Then you see Helga standing next to the breakfast table laden with food. She yells, “Blueberry pancakes!”

     And in the final frame you see Hagar sitting on the edge of the bed, all smiles and excitement and he says, “That’s why!”

     Hagar points out a very fundamental fact about us. We all need meaning in our lives, even if it’s just blueberry pancakes. We all need purpose in life. The message of Christ is that God has given us that purpose. Through the very nature of creation, God lays claim to our lives.

     God is Creator and we are the creature, the created. We balked at that for a long time. We wanted to be like God. We wanted to be little gods thinking only of our own creaturely comforts. But with the call of Christ, God touches something even deeper. God touches us and claims us. God’s claim touches the very core of our being with a divine affirmation and a divine purpose for our lives.

     The Son of God calls us to accept him as Lord and Savior. That gives stability and direction for our lives. It mends the brokenness and heals the rift between us and God. But beyond even that, we are called, by Christ, to be his disciples. Like Peter, Andrew, James, John and however many millions since that day, Christ has laid claim to our lives and we’re called to lay down our nets and follow him.


     When we realize both the Call and the Claim and rise to that great calling, we can make a difference in the world. We can be the disciples God would have us be. We can answer the call to ministry that accompanies and is the flip side of discipleship.

     No matter what vocation God calls you to, our first and foremost calling is to be disciples. It doesn’t make any difference whether you’re a doctor, a lawyer, a mechanic, a clerk or the person who cleans up the vomit in the drunk tank at the county jail. God calls us to be in ministry with Christ. God calls us to be in ministry to and for those around us. As disciples, we’re entrusted with the responsibility of being “fishers of people”.

     The loudest witness is the witness of example accompanied with the “Why” and for “Whom.” It doesn’t take fancy words. It doesn’t take degrees and ordination to be in ministry. We can each be in ministry right where we are. Sometimes the touch of love is more verbal than physical. 

     A young man worked in a logging camp and on one occasion the boss needed to be away for a couple of weeks and decided to put him in charge. The young man asked, “What exactly does that mean? Can I fire people?”

     Knowing that he and another man didn’t get along too well, he said, “Yes, and I know exactly what you’re getting at. You’re going to fire Tony the first chance you get, aren’t you? But let me tell you something, I know Tony doesn’t get along with anybody, he’s nasty and he grumbles. But he’s been with me for over eight years. He’s the first person to arrive on the job and the last one to leave. Nobody has ever had an accident around Tony. His hill is always the safest one to work on.”

     On the first day of his new responsibilities, the young man went to Tony’s hill and announced that he’d been put in charge. Tony looked at him, knowing the bad blood between them and said, “I suppose that means you’re going to fire me?”

     The young man then said, “Well, actually, I was but the boss told me you’re the best workman we have. He said you’re the first to come and the last to leave, and that there’s never been an accident around you. He couldn’t get along without you.”

     The young man was startled to see Tony’s face cloud up and tears begin to flow as Tony said, “Why didn’t he tell me that eight years ago?” (1)

     From that day on, Tony was a different man. His attitude, his outlook, the way he treated people, everything about him changed. And twelve years later, Tony was the head of that logging company and that young man was his vice-president, his right hand man and his best friend. Tony never failed to remind that young man that it all began on the day he was told what the boss had said about him.

     We’re all surrounded by people who have no sense of their own self-worth, no sense of their value to God or to others. They’ve never been told. Or they’ve always been told they’re worthless, their hairs too long, or the wrong style, the Mohawk or the red and blue streaks aren’t appropriate. They’ve been told that God couldn’t love them because of their piercings and tattoos or their lifestyle.

     Scripture says we are all created in the image of God. And Jesus said He died to save us not condemn us.

     As disciples, our touch, whether it’s verbal or actual, may be the touch that changes a life. We can touch them with the Good News of Jesus Christ. You see, we have the best news that has ever been given to the world. We have the good news of a God who loves us, a God who provides for us, a God who continues to care for us and love us even when we get off track. 

     We have the Good News of God who sent his only Son to live with us, to walk with us, to teach us, to die for us, to rise for us and to abide in us through the Holy Spirit. Even after we rejected Him, Jesus still died for our sakes.

     He took our sin upon himself to set us free so that we could answer his call to be disciples. His love changes us. His love, lived through our lives as his disciples can reach, touch and change others.

     Christ calls us to be conduits through which the Good News of his love and forgiveness, the good news of redemption can be channeled. We are “fishers of people” while living as disciples. And the consequences of that kind of life is changed lives all around us.


     Lugging along a huge black bass, one fisherman met another fisherman whose stringer consisted of twelve small fish.

     The first man said, “Howdy,” laid down his fish and waited for a comment.

     The other fisherman stared for a few moments and then calmly responded, “Just caught the one, huh?” (1) I like fish stories because everybody has one.

     But this is a whole different kind of fish story. Just as he called Peter, Andrew, James and John, Jesus the Christ, the Son of God calls each of us. “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Where are we going? I don’t know. God always calls but God doesn’t always tell us where to go. Jesus simply says: “Follow!”

     And like Miss Hettie said, “I guess we’ll find out when we get there.” Jesus calls us to be his disciples. He calls us to be in ministry together. But that call is a personal call that you have to answer for yourself. So, here’s the challenge:





This is the Word of the Lord for this day.




1.    Source Unknown