And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men (literally “people”).”
When Jesus told people to “follow me,” in the original language, he’s saying “Deute opisō mou” which means “Come after me.” Jesus is telling people to go after him as you would a teacher or a coach that you want to train you.
When Jesus offers to teach them how to live a lifestyle of fishing for people, He is most likely using the fishing for a livelihood analogy of bringing fish into the boat to make his point that those who follow him will be living the lifestyle of bringing people into the kingdom of God. Jesus is mentoring his followers in the life of being world changers by transforming others for the glory of God according to his purpose just as Jesus is transforming them.
By the time you read through to Mark 8:34-35, Jesus is telling the people especially his followers “…If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
The stringent requirements for discipleship the conditions Jesus lays out for anyone following him seem difficult to wrap our minds around. Is Jesus teaching a self-destructive lifestyle? Jesus is explaining the personal responsibilities and consequences of accepting his invitation to follow him.
In verse 35 Jesus says, “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Jesus is referring to the human soul and eternal life not just physical life.
By today’s standards as well as by the standards of the first century A.D., Jesus is by far the most countercultural mentor and teacher of truth anyone could ever encounter let alone follow. Never has anyone on earth ever spent so few years pouring into their followers as Jesus spent pouring into those ordinary people following him and change the world forever.
Never before has the world ever witnessed a people who lay down their lives for others, performing miracles, living out an unchanging global redemptive mission with the highest values, transforming cities, changing the course of history as the genuine followers of Jesus continue to do.
In answer to the prayers of Jesus God the Father has poured out his Holy Spirit on all who obey him as Jesus instructs (see Acts 5:32), releasing astonishing power in and through genuine Christ-followers to transform their families, friends, neighbors, and all who will listen to the story Jesus has given them to tell all who will listen.
These miraculous followers of Jesus are known as “The Church,” God’s called-out ones. Jesus is demonstrating God’s kingdom lifestyle so that “… through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him (Ephesians 3:10-12).”
Through the Church, Jesus continues his invitation to all who will listen and respond; there is no greater life to live or nobler purpose to pursue than to Follow Him.