Twenty-five years ago,
had I told you that I follow a doctor, a news commentator, or a comedian; you might have thought I was a crazed stalker. Today, however, the idea of following people on social media is commonplace. It’s a way to feel connected to a group of like-minded people, of being part of the “in-crowd” so to speak.
When Jesus said to his disciples, “follow me,” he invited them to come along, to go where he led, to be trained by him, and do what he taught.
What did Jesus want his followers to learn?
All are welcomed. Jesus invited the unexpected to follow him. Zacchaeus was a despised, tax collector and the woman-at-the-well, was a promiscuous, outcast "half-breed." He invites even me (and you too) to follow him, and by following him, we will discover God's love and commitment to us.
In Luke 15, Jesus told about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. Each of these stories show the Father's commitment to rescue people. In the story of the lost son, when the son came to his senses and headed home, the father was already peering out to see him, and when he saw his son coming, he ran out to meet him, threw his arms around him, and kissed him. But this wasn't no ordinary kiss! The word kiss here means to kiss passionately, over and over again! Put yourself in that scenario! Jesus wants us to understand how great the Father's love is for us, even when we go astray!
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him" John 3:16-17 (BSB).
Following Jesus is costly. Jesus calls us to repent. Zacchaeus, the woman-at-the-well, and the lost son did not remain in their sins. They turned from their way of doing things and looked to Jesus for their salvation.
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" Matthew 16:24 (ESV). Miraculously, as we learn to obey, Jesus changes our desires so that we want to follow him and do what pleases him! We are reminded of this truth in Psalm 37:4-5, which says, "Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act" (ESV).
Following Jesus means we don’t walk alone. Our ability to repent and follow Jesus is through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate, which means intercessor, consoler, and comforter.
Jesus said to his disciples, "All who love me will do what I say . . . when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative---that is, the Holy Spirit---he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift---peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give" John 14:23-27 (NLT).
Following Jesus means we are part of the family of God. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he taught them a community prayer: "Our Father . . . give us . . . our daily bread . . . forgive us . . . as we forgive our debtors . . . lead us not . . . but deliver us . . . " We pray for ourselves and for others. We do not walk alone.
We tell others. We obey the imperative to go and tell, not
to ensure our salvation, but because we understand how desperately the world needs Jesus!
Following the “in-crowd” is short-lived, but following Jesus and being found “in-Christ” means eternal life! We are invited to come along, to be forgiven of our sins, placed into God's family, to be trained by him, and then share what we've learned with other people.
Follow Jesus today!
For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” Romans 10:13
Copyright 2022 S.A. Keith
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