“Follow me, and….”
There seems to be a vast chasm between those many millions who call themselves Christians in the world and those who are truly following Jesus (being disciples). I don’t mean to have you question whether or not you have assurance of eternal life, but I want to challenge you to take your faith in Christ to the next level.
Jesus didn’t call us to pray a prayer that would guarantee our place in heaven. He didn’t even call us to trust in a theological system of grace and faith as is proposed by so many evangelicals as the Gospel of Truth. What Jesus calls us to is to follow Him–to take His yoke (His way of understanding God and being human) as our own. And when Scripture tells the stories of Jesus calling us to follow Him, we always find that little conjunction which explains what following Him really means.
A Missional Life – Matthew 4:19
The first “follow me and” comes to the two pair of fishermen brothers who had first met Jesus when He was baptized by John the Baptist. Jesus says to them sometime later, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Here Jesus says that to follow Him is to embark on His mission to seek and save the lost sheep of Israel. The first and foremost call then to be a Christ-follower is to begin to proclaim the Christ-life (love, compassion, and forgiveness of sins) to others as a regular life-style. The call to follow Jesus is a missional call.
An Abundant Life – Matthew 8:22
In the second account, a potential follower asks Jesus permission to allow him to bury his recently deceased father. Though some might have thought Jesus to be harsh here, His reply is very loving: “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Jesus calls us to live life and live it abundantly. If that man put his father’s death ahead of Jesus, he would have continued on in His erroneous understanding of who Jesus was. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus offers us a new life in Him.
But the abundant life is not a life of riches, happiness, and lack of suffering. On the contrary, Jesus said that in this world we would have trouble, but that if we followed Him, our hearts would be at peace in the midst of suffering. This is the abundant life: the spiritual life of joy and assurance that comes from intimately knowing Jesus which then replaces the dread of eternal guilt and death.
A Sold-Out Life – Matthew 9:9
Later Jesus approaches the tax collector’s booth and gives the despised Matthew one last chance at redemption: “‘Follow me,’ Jesus told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.” Even the most sinful can follow Jesus, but it will require leaving the sinful life behind. Jesus calls us to repent, to change our way of thinking and acting. If you want to continue to live where you are in charge, you cannot follow Jesus. But if you will give up your sinful ways to follow Him, Jesus is ready to make you a disciple.
A Life Of Self-Denial – Matthew 10:38 & 16:24
The “follow me and…” found in these two passages is to take up our individual crosses.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'” Our call to follow means that we will do what God says and nothing else. This is our cross that we say and believe like Jesus at Gethsemane: “Not my will Father, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). The self-focused, self-aggrandizing life of modern man must be put aside to effectively complete God’s mission of saving the world. To be a disciple is to lose one’s life in order to find it (Matthew 10:39).
A Simple Life – Matthew 19:21
When one man came to Jesus to follow Him, he asked where Jesus was saying. Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to rest His head (Matt. 8:20). There is a corresponding call to a simple life when we follow Jesus. We should have no need for worldly possessions; we have no desire for material wealth. Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” As the old hymn goes, “What ever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.”
The call to be a disciple of Jesus is a radical call. It requires all of our being. It demands that we take stock of our lives on a daily (even moment by moment) basis to ensure that we love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
So, before you answer “yes” to someone who asks whether or not you are a Christian, think about this response instead, “I am attempting by God’s grace to follow Jesus.” If this is your heartfelt understanding of being a disciple, you are well on your way