Jesus said to Philip, “Follow me,” and he did. Philip then told Nathanael to join him in that quest, saying, “Come and see.” (John 1:43 and 1:46) Later, Jesus said to Simon (Peter) and Andrew, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” (Mark 1:17 and repeated in Matthew 4:19, NIV)
Interestingly, the Greek of John, “Ἀκολούθει,” is capitalized, written with a capital Alpha. The word (transliterated as “Akolouthei”) comes from the root word “akoloutheó,” which means “to follow.” Still, the origin word is “keleuthos,” which means, “a road, way.” The Alpha, as a prefix, makes the word become a copulative verb, where a subject or adjective is added to another noun, turning it into a verb. Thus, “Ἀ κολούθει,” as “My path,” is intended to state, “Let my path be.” This can then be translated as “Follow me.”
In both the Mark and Matthew statements recounting what Jesus said, their Greek says, “Δεῦτε ὀπίσω” (transliterated, “Deute opisō”). Those are two words that say (in the plural), “Follow after.” The word Deute (the plural form of “deuro”) can translate as “Follow,” but also as “Come” or “Come away.” Therefore, each of the witnesses to Jesus gathering disciples remembered an invitation to “Come,” which would be an invitation of “Following” him in order to experience the purpose of Jesus.
In the Gospels, the disciples and others commonly refer to Jesus as “rabbi.” This is because he was recognized as a teacher. All educated Americans (all humans for that matter) understand that the title of “teacher” means the identification of one who teaches students for the purpose of having the students stop learning and start applying what has been learned. We stop going to formal schools, with formal teachers, when we graduate and go into the real world. In this process, there are students that “Follow” us, entering into the educational system “after” we leave, just as we “Follow” those who have held roles of responsibility in the world before our entrance as those newly educated – doctors, lawyers, corporate heads, and even educators.
This means that while Jesus invited disciples to walk behind him and be taught his philosophies of life, the intent was much greater. The capitalization of the word “Follow” means a statement of importance is being made. It says, “You replace me when I’m gone.” It says, “You take my place on this path to God.” It says, “You will be taught to be the next Jesus, after this Jesus has left and is no longer present in the flesh.”
In John’s use of “Erchou kai ide,” (“Come and see”), the word “ide” means, “to see, perceive, attend to,” but it carries the metaphorical meaning: “to see with the mind” (i.e. spiritually see), i.e. perceive (with inward spiritual perception).” As such, the invitation to “Come” (or “Go”) means to “Act,” so that the result will lead to an ability “to see, to experience, to attend to” spiritual matters. In essence, Jesus approached those who he knew (saw spiritually) would “Come” to his state of being, “after” his influence ended, “and” be “seen” as Apostles of Christ in the future, “acting” as Jesus had acted in the past.
The primary importance of Scripture is not to teach history. It serves no greater good if people know the story of Jesus. Likewise, it would not be a history us Christians would even know, much less be able to recite today (2015 already), if the people who acted to follow Jesus only walked dusty trails and saw a few things.
In comparison, the educational system of America is not primarily concerned with ensuring its graduates will be able to recite the Bill of Rights, have the multiplication tables memorized, and be able to teach the principles of science behind water changing from solid, to liquid, to gas. We are not educated to enhance the résumé of teachers, as proof they did their jobs well. The primary intent is to have a world filled with people who will continue the process of educating and teaching, by making educators and teachers. Therefore, Jesus was stating a prophecy at the beginning of his ministry, intending his words to mean, “You will follow me. As you act, you will see yourself as me.”
The greatest failure of modern Christianity (of current Christians) is to make Jesus into a god. Too many people celebrate other people as idols. We have given rise to the “Cult of Personality,” where we just want to get close to Jesus, to feel like we know him, through acts of memorization, prayer, and travelling the path to and from a building called a church. The failure comes from not seeing beyond the literal, thinking all we need to do is “follow” Jesus as disciples, those who never graduate and never have the responsibility to become Jesus.
We must read the words and hear Jesus talking directly to us, through those who were him afterwards. We must become Jesus, as the Apostles did, and stop being the “flawed us” that is so much less. That can only happen once we are truly filled with the Holy Spirit. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is not something to keep for yourself – you can’t hide that light under a barrel – so you certainly cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit for a few hours a day, then come home, hang up your holy spirit robe and holler out to your true love (Miss Sin), saying, “Honey, I’m home!”
When you truly “Follow” Jesus, you are married to the Holy Spirit, so that two (you and Jesus) are united in one flesh (your body, His Spirit). Once that happens, sin is the last thing you ever consider doing. No longer is adultery appealing. You do not tear that union asunder, because God has formed you as Jesus. You have then been sanctified (a Saint) through the pronouncement of Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, being that One Baptism for the remission of sins we all talk about, but never fully understand. Once you say, “I do” to the Holy Spirit, you become forever married.
For the future of Christianity to begin to pull itself up out of the slime of this filthy world, Christians need to come to this realization. There is no card you can carry in your wallet that says, “Get into Heaven Free.” There is no bumper sticker that proclaims you have the Holy Spirit protecting your car. You cannot cheat others Monday through Saturday, and then cleanse away that sin in a couple of hours, before the game starts on television and the cycle repeats.
It is time to open your eyes and see. It is time to stand up and “Follow” what you believe. It is time to be responsible for your acts and see how much you add to the world’s problems, and how little you make them go away.
Written by Robert Tippett.