A Case of “Simon Says”

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Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed. (Matthew 4:19 MSG)

And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19 KJV)

Do you recall playing the game “Simon Says” as a child? Someone would be appointed Simon, and everyone would follow his or her actions or comments. If Simon said, “Shake your hand,” everyone did. If Simon said “Kneel down,” everyone did. If Simon just burst out in laughter and someone followed without hearing the “Simon says” command, that person was it! Apparently this youthful activity can be traced back to the eleventh century, or even earlier. Some attribute it to the highly respected Roman orator Cicero and his followers. The phrase essentially was, “Cicero says do this”—and if Cicero said something, you did it. Somehow over the centuries and across the globe it has become a popular game, played worldwide in a variety of ways and settings.

And yet, before Cicero, there was one man who invited rustic men by the sea to do just what he said: Jesus of Nazareth. It wasn’t exactly “Jesus Says.” It was a more holistic command—“follow me.” Not simply an invitation to view a ninety-minute Christian film or participate in an hour-long Bible study. No, this was full-on, 100 percent, engage-with-me-in-life, “follow me.” And when I read the gospel of Matthew and see how these men implicitly did just that, I must confess—I am in awe. As I continue to wrestle with the matter of discipleship and look at the Master and his ways, I can’t help but think we’ve strayed. And I long for the desiring heart, the unencumbered approach to following Jesus that the disciples of long ago showed. They simply dropped their nets and followed. When Jesus says, “Follow me,” I pray—may it be so for us!

By Publisher, Don Pape

Don Pape, Publisher

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