There was a joke shared among the young people in church some years back, starting with a question: “What brand of shampoo did Jesus use?” The answer was, “Follow Me.”
While we may be tickled by the answer, Simon Peter and Andrew were not smiling when Jesus issued the call to them by the Galilean lake, to follow Him. Jesus said, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And immediately, they left their nets and followed Jesus (Mark 1:16-18, MEV).
This was the Scripture text for a sermon by one distinguished churchman, the Rev William Alexander, who later became the Archbishop for all of Ireland. The Rev Alexander was planning to preach the sermon on St Andrew’s Day, which was and is still celebrated by the Anglicans on the last Sunday in November, commemorating the calling of Andrew by Jesus.1
While preparing his sermon, the Rev Alexander asked his wife, Cecil Frances Alexander (1823-1895), a gifted poet with amazing literary talents, if she could write a poem to reinforce the message of his sermon. Mrs Alexander, who had written more than 400 poems and hymn texts to teach children about the Gospel, did just that.
But while her husband’s sermon may have long been forgotten, Mrs Alexander’s poem became a well-loved hymn, ‘Jesus Calls Us’, which continues to resonate in the hearts of the Church universal.
The hymn’s central theme is the call of Christ. It is about priorities.2
Andrew responded to Jesus’ call and “turned from home and toil and kindred, leaving all for Jesus’ sake.” (stanza 2) What is your response? Are you willing to sacrifice all to follow Jesus?
In stanza 3, the heart of the hymn, Jesus calls us from the love of the world to a whole-hearted love for Him. Jesus is our first and only love. All other things – our days of toil and cares, joys and pleasures (stanza 4) – can hinder our devotion to the Lord.
Jesus’ call comes to us today as clearly and urgently as it came to Andrew by the Sea of Galilee. Let us heed Jesus’ call as Andrew did and, in complete obedience, follow, serve, and love Him “best of all” (stanza 5).
Jesus Calls Us (The United Methodist Hymnal, #398)
- Jesus calls us o’er the tumult
of our life’s wild, restless, sea;
day by day his sweet voice soundeth,
saying, “Christian, follow me!”
- As of old the apostles heard it
by the Galilean lake,
turned from home and toil and kindred,
leaving all for Jesus’ sake.
- Jesus calls us from the worship
of the vain world’s golden store,
from each idol that would keep us,
saying, “Christian, love me more!”
- In our joys and in our sorrows,
days of toil and hours of ease,
still he calls, in cares and pleasures,
“Christian, love me more than these!”
- Jesus calls us! By thy mercies,
Saviour, may we hear thy call,
give our hearts to thine obedience,
serve and love thee best of all.
Words: Cecil Frances Alexander, 1852 (Mt. 4:18-32)
Music: William H. Jude, 1874
1 Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, Mich: Kregel Publications, 1990), 343.
2 Frank Colquhoun, A Hymn Companion: Insight into Three Hundred Christian Hymns (Wilton: Morehouse Barlow, 1985), 227.
Dr Yeo Teck Beng –
is a member of Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church.
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