A Graduate School of Theology and Ministry

Third Sunday of Easter

May 01, 2022

Lectionary 48:

Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41

Ps 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13

Rev 5:11-14

John 21:1-19 



Possible preaching themes:

  • Gospel: Jesus’s two words 2,000 years ago echo to us today: “Follow me.” What does this mean? What are the contributions of the psychology of following and of leadership
  • Gospel: At the end of this Gospel we return to almost the beginning of the first Gospel, to the seashore with fishermen (Mark 1:16) . Why is this significant? Is there something about the psychology of the seashore or the psychology of fishing at work here?
  • Acts: The courage and “rejoicing” of the Apostles in the face of punishment and possible martyrdom


Possible scientific resources


Homily outline on “Follow me”

  • Introduction: What is Jesus saying?
    • We seem to have come full circle. At the end of John’s Gospel, the last gospel, we find ourselves at the very beginning of the first gospel, Mark (1:16):at the seashore, with men fishing.
  • And Jesus’s final words in this passage echo exactly some of his first words in the Markan gospel and the first chapter of this Gospel: “Follow me”  (1:17)
  • In these weeks after Easter, it may sound like he is stating the obvious and that the author is framing this gospel this way to drive home a central message of discipleship.
  • But maybe there is more to those two words. What is Christ actually asking his disciples, and us in turn, to do?
  • What it does it mean to follow?


  • The Science: Leadership and Why We Follow
    • “Follow me” is a mantra on social media today. On Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, influence and importance is often measured by how many “followers” someone has.
    • Among various theories, social media experts cite two key reasons why they believe we follow people online:
    • Psychologists have long known that we are social creatures. We need to band together. We need one another to survive and thrive — and to continue a way of life, profess what we value, pass on what we believe.) https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-bandwagon-effect-2795895


  • The Power of Leadership
    • This explains our human hunger to follow — but the act of following also demands that we actually have someone to follow. A leader.
    • Management experts and psychologists like to draw up lists of various qualities people look for in leaders — integrity, empathy, courage. But one list mentioned something unexpected: service. The good leader has the ability to serve others. https://nlctb.org/tips/7-traits-of-emotionally-intelligent-leaders/
    • Recent research suggests that an important quality of a leader is his or her ability to build followers through the power of words, especially in defining social identity. A Scientific American study found that for leadership to function well, leaders and followers must be bound by a shared identity and by the quest to use that identity as a blueprint for action. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-new-psychology-of-leadership-2007-08/
    • But what does all this tell us about being followers of Jesus Christ? What does this tell us about discipleship?


  • The Takeaway: Christ’s Bold Message for Us Today
    • These notions of following and leadership resonate with us in one way or another because they also hold true for following Jesus Christ.
      • Christian discipleship calls out to us to follow a singular figure of integrity, courage, and purpose.
      • For 20 centuries, people have been drawn to this figure for his message of mercy, compassion, justice, and love.
      • But that is just the beginning.
    • To be a follower of Christ demands even more. Commitment. Sacrifice. Surrender. Maybe even martyrdom.
    • What type of followers does Jesus seek? Authentic, dedicated, passionate.
    • Christ’s invitation — “Follow me” — transcends simple psychology or patterns of human behavior. It goes beyond the easy temptations, clicks and links of social media. It is about following more than person, but following a call to live differently, act differently, interact differently. It is nothing less than a call to conversion of life and heart.

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