Well although this might need some unpacking today for many of the people Jesus said it to it was relatively straightforward. They just left whatever they were doing and followed him. They learned from him, became friends with him, served him, loved him and many of them died for him. However, as we look around the church today we may be surprised at how far it has moved from this model. For no-one Jesus met did following merely mean something intellectual. They all actually did follow.
So the really bizarre thing is that our churches seem to be full of people who say they follow Jesus without actually doing anything. They intellectually assent to a number of beliefs however they do not seem to have left what they were doing to follow Jesus. Following Jesus is always about leaving one life and beginning another. So why do so many people seem able to say they follow Jesus without giving any time to him, without learning from him, without obeying him, without sacrificing anything for him and ultimately without doing anything which demonstrates any love for him. Surely the act of following Jesus has to involve some act of following not just a set of things we say we believe.
So as we think about how we relate to Jesus perhaps the biggest question is not do we say are following him but are we actually following him. Read a gospel and just look at the things those who followed him did and then look at your life and see how you measure up. It's an honour, a joy and a privilege to follow Jesus. It gives you hope, it gives you relationship and it gives you not only a new way of doing life but a new life entirely. It's an amazing thing to do but just saying that you are following him does not necessarily mean you are. As they say in the bronx 'The proof of the pudding is in it's eating'.
(O.K. they probably don't say that in the bronx - but they should. It's a very useful phrase!)