The Call to Follow: 22 Invitations from Jesus

Jesus’ powerful invitation, “Follow Me,” resounds throughout the Gospels. Those two little words – so simple, but they’ve echoed down through the centuries, changing lives. The Bible tells us he said it again and again, to all sorts of people. Each time, it was an invitation, a challenge, a chance to leave something behind and step into a whole new story.

Think about who Jesus hung out with – scrappy fishermen, a crooked tax collector, rich guys looking for more than money could buy, folks just hungry for a better way. He saw something in them, regardless of their pasts. That’s the thing about Jesus’ invitation, it’s wide open.

How Many Times Did Jesus Say Follow Me in The Bible?

You hear Jesus say it over and over in the Gospels: “Follow me.” It’s more than a travel suggestion.  He’s asking them to leave everything behind and step into a whole new life. Fishermen ditching their nets, that tax collector everyone hated – Jesus looks them in the eye and sees something more.  It reminds us that his love isn’t for some religious elite, but for all of us, messy and complicated as we are.

Matthew (7 times)

Matthew 4:19

Think about what it meant when Jesus told Peter, Andrew, James, and John to become “fishers of men.”  They traded nets for a whole new way of seeing the world, not just feeding bodies, but bringing lost souls home.  That’s what it means to be a disciple of Christ, he turns our lives upside down, gives us a purpose way bigger than ourselves, and makes us part of His work in the world.

Matthew 8:22

Jesus’ command to “let the dead bury their own dead” serves as a shocking wake-up call to prioritize God’s kingdom above all earthly obligations. It highlights the urgency of responding to Jesus’ call; those who are spiritually dead, unenlightened by faith, can tend to their own affairs.

Think about what Jesus said, about leaving everything behind to follow him.  Real discipleship isn’t some balancing act, God’s work has to come before family gatherings, before that job that makes everyone respect you, even before the rituals you were raised with.

Matthew 9:9

Jesus’ invitation to Matthew, a despised tax collector within Roman-occupied Judea, stands as a testament to the boundless nature of God’s grace. Tax collectors were not only collaborators with the oppressive empire but often seen as extortionists within their own communities. Jesus never let the rules of his day get in the way of showing love. Look at how he treated women, even those everyone else had written off. He showed us that no one is too broken, too ‘unacceptable’, to feel God’s love, and that invitation is meant for everyone.

Matthew 10:38

Jesus isn’t sugarcoating anything. When he talks about “taking up one’s cross,” that cross wasn’t just a pretty necklace. It’s a heavy image, reminding us that following Him might mean facing hard stuff, even risking everything. This isn’t some feel-good faith; it’s a call to gutsy commitment.

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Matthew 16:24

Jesus makes it clear: “If you want to follow me, forget about yourself.  Be ready to carry your cross.”  This isn’t about a nice religious idea, it’s a gut-punch challenge. Following Jesus isn’t a path of comfort and self-fulfillment; it requires laying down our own desires and ambitions to willingly embrace hardship for the sake of Christ’s kingdom.

Matthew 19:21

Jesus’ interaction with the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:21 is a gut punch.  The guy wanted the whole package:  money now, eternal life later. But Jesus challenges him to go all-in, to sell everything and follow.  It shows us how easily our stuff, even our good intentions, can choke out what really matters.  Ultimately, following Jesus means choosing him over everything else, even things we think we can’t live without.

Matthew 19:28

Jesus offers a glimpse of something that must have set his disciples’ hearts on fire. He promises them thrones, a place of power, judging alongside him! Imagine how that felt after everything they’d given up to follow him. This isn’t just about a future reward, it’s a reminder, right in the middle of hardship, that God sees their sacrifices, and he won’t forget.

Mark (4 times)

Mark 1:17

Think of those first disciples, they weren’t just hauling in nets, their whole world was being turned upside down. That’s the thing about following Jesus, isn’t it? It’s not another job, it’s a whole new life. Suddenly, you’re not just chasing what gets you by, you’re out there searching for lost souls, finding purpose you never even knew existed.

Mark 2:14

Jesus’ call to Levi, another tax collector, expands the narrative of God’s inclusive love established in Matthew’s account. This repeated invitation to those despised by society underscores a crucial message – no one is beyond the reach of Christ’s transformative power. His grace is big enough even for the folks written off by society. It shows us that nobody’s too messed up, nobody’s past too bad, for God to offer a fresh start.

Mark 8:34

Mark 8:34 reiterates the profound call to self-denial and the metaphorical “carrying of the cross” that’s found in Matthew’s Gospel. The Bible keeps coming back to this idea, doesn’t it? That following Jesus isn’t about getting what we want. It’s about being willing to let go – to walk a path that might not always be easy.

Mark 10:21

Mark 10:21 echoes the pivotal encounter with the rich young ruler found in both Matthew and Luke. Jesus’ command to “go, sell all that you have…and come, follow me” once again lays bare the challenge of placing worldly possessions above allegiance to Christ. It forces us to ask: What’s more valuable, the stuff we can hold onto, or the kind of life God promises?

Luke (4 times)

Luke 5:27

This moment – it’s powerful, and there’s a reason it rings out across Mark and Matthew too.  It screams something Jesus lived by: God’s love isn’t for the good, the respectable. It’s for anyone brave enough to grab hold of it, to leave the old life behind, and just start walking behind Him.

Luke 9:23

In Luke 9:23, Jesus echoes the call found in Matthew and Mark, emphasizing the non-negotiable aspects of discipleship. His command to “take up your cross daily and follow me” underscores that self-denial isn’t merely a one-time decision but an ongoing, everyday commitment.

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Luke 9:59

A potential follower asks Jesus, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” While seemingly a reasonable request rooted in filial duty, Jesus’ response reveals the urgency and absolute priority of His call. By suggesting that the man should let the “spiritually dead” care for the physically deceased, Jesus underscores the immediate nature of discipleship. Following Jesus means putting His way, His work, at the heart of everything else. It’s not always easy, but it’s a path filled with a kind of purpose you won’t find anywhere else.

Luke 18:22

In Luke 18:22, Jesus repeats his encounter with the rich young ruler, echoing the poignant message found in Matthew and Mark. This man wants to live forever, but he just can’t let go of his money. Sometimes, following God means giving up more than we ever thought we could, only to find something way better on the other side.

John (7 times)

John 1:43

Jesus extends a simple but profound invitation to Philip: “Follow Me.” This seemingly ordinary call marks the beginning of a direct relationship with the Savior. It’s a personal summons, not just to witness Christ’s ministry, but to actively participate in it, walk alongside Him, and build an intimate bond. Think about it, Jesus invites us in, wants to have a real relationship that changes everything.

John 8:12

Think of those dark, stumbling moments we all have. Then imagine hearing Jesus say, “I am the Light of the World”.  While not a direct “Follow Me” statement, it implies a call to discipleship. By proclaiming that those who follow him “will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,” Jesus positions himself as the guide.

John 10:27

Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  Isn’t that incredible? There’s something so comforting in that image – a Shepherd who knows us that well, whose voice we can always recognize. Like sheep recognizing and responding to their shepherd’s voice, disciples of Christ cultivate a deep personal relationship with Him, characterized by trust, obedience, and the assurance of His guidance and protection.

John 12:26

Jesus says, “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.” Think about that! It means discipleship isn’t about getting a fancy title, it’s getting your hands dirty like Jesus did.  True followers not only walk the path Jesus walked but aspire to be where their Master is, both physically in their actions on earth and ultimately in their eternal destination with Him in heaven.

John 13:36

In John 13:36, Peter’s eagerness clashes with Jesus’ words, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” This temporary delay in Peter’s ability to fully follow foreshadows his imminent denial of Christ, demonstrating his weakness. Yet, within this delay lies a crucial promise, “you will follow afterward”. This shows us that even when Peter totally messes up, that’s not the end of his story. If his heart is truly seeking Jesus, there’s always a path forward.

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John 21:19 & 22

In Jesus’ poignant final conversation with Peter, the simple yet powerful “Follow Me” echoes twice.  Think about Peter’s denial of Jesus… and then this moment, repeated three times. It’s not just wiping the slate clean, it’s like Jesus is saying, “I trust you to carry on my work.” Peter’s journey reminds us that following Jesus isn’t a one-time decision. It’s about changing from the inside out, and then being part of something so much bigger than ourselves.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, all repeat versions of “Follow Me.” This wasn’t just some catchphrase, it’s the core message.

Think about how he treated people society looked down on, tax collectors, and women. It wasn’t about playing by the rules, it was showing that God’s love is enormous, and that invitation to a new life is for anyone, no matter how messed up they feel.

How to Sincerely Follow Jesus

1. Get Real With Yourself

Following Jesus means radical honesty about what holds the top spot in our hearts. If it’s money, status, comfort, or anything else, that’s where change must begin.

We can ask ourselves: “What am I unwilling to give up, even if I know God is asking? What am I afraid of losing if I truly prioritize Him?

What really matters most in your life? If it’s not God, that’s the first thing to change. No half-measures here!

2. Expect Some Rough Patches

The Christian life isn’t a guarantee of smooth sailing. Hardship, doubt, and failings are part of the journey. Yet, it’s in these struggles that we experience God’s grace most powerfully.

We can remind ourselves that even biblical heroes like Peter and Paul messed up, yet God never abandoned them. His grace isn’t about our perfection, but our willingness to get back up and keep trying.

3. Find Your People

Faith wasn’t meant to be lived in isolation. A supportive church community offers vital connection, learning, and encouragement. This isn’t just about finding a nice place to worship. Find your people, the ones who see your heart, where your questions are welcome, and everyone’s figuring out this faith thing together.

4. It’s a Journey

Sanctification (becoming more Christ-like) is a lifelong process. We must release ourselves from the burden of perfection and instead focus on our spiritual direction. Ask yourself: “Am I kinder than I was a year ago? Have I gotten better at turning to prayer when I’m scared…or just annoyed? Can I let go of a grudge faster than I used to, even when I feel like I’m right?

Conclusion

The repeated invitation to “Follow Me” isn’t merely a historical artifact. It remains a living call to Christians today, a summons to walk the path Jesus walked. The cost of discipleship is undoubtedly high – involving self-denial, potential hardship, and prioritizing God’s kingdom above all else.

Yet, the rewards are infinitely greater. Those who faithfully follow Jesus experience spiritual transformation, share in His mission, and gain the promise of eternal life with Him. Will you answer the call?

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