Followers First

By Justin Rossow

A friend recently sent me a link to a sermon he found online—from me! I preached at the Day of Homiletical Reflection in 2011, over a decade ago now. I had to speak in front of a chapel packed with pastors, professors, and seminary students. Tough crowd.

The text (assigned to me) was Matthew 9:9-13. Jesus not only calls Mathew to follow, he tells the professional religious professors (Pharisees), “Go and learn what this means…”

I had completely forgotten one key element of the Greek text. “As you go, learn” (πορευθέντες δὲ μάθετε) in Matthew 9 is directly related linguistically to “as you go, disciple” (πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε) in Matthew 28. Jesus is emphasizing the ongoing need to learn, even as one who has followers.

We, who are called to disciple the nations, don’t ever get to graduate from needing Jesus. As I put it in the Seminary pulpit so long ago: “The call to follow is the ongoing prerequisite to the call to invite others to follow, too.”

Even back then I didn’t mean it as Law. It’s actually a great relief to know that, however many people follow you, your primary call is to follow. You can point people to Jesus only because you keep looking for where Jesus is, and where Jesus is headed next.

That means the burden is off! It’s not all about you! Even in your weakness or failure or doubt, your needing Jesus guides others to needing Jesus, too.

Even a shaking hand can point the way.

When you feel overwhelmed or discouraged, remember this: you are a follow, first. To the very end of the Age.

Listen to the sermon, below:

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