In the first part of this series, I mentioned that Jesus has got four instructive commandments for us all – the command to come, the command to follow, the command to love and the command to go. I hope you have read the first part of this series, where I discussed Jesus’ invitation to us to come. In this second part, I will concentrate on Jesus’ invitation to you and me to follow Him.
And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. Matthew 4:19
As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him. Matthew 9:9
You and I know how difficult it is to ask others to follow us, especially when we have not merited such followership. Christ Jesus has different calls to different people. To the weary and heavy-laden, he says come and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30). To those who heed his call to come, He invites them to follow Him. The call to come is a call to salvation and divine encounter with God, just like we saw it demonstrated in the life of Bartimaeus. The call to follow is a call to all who have come to Jesus and embraced him as their Lord and Savior. It is a call to learn at the feet of Jesus and become his disciple. It is a call to have Jesus make us into his own purpose and plan for our lives. It is a call everyone who cares about their eternal relevance in the hand of God must take seriously. Following Jesus is a deliberate decision to learn the life and ways of Jesus and become like him in all things.
Matthew 1:21 clearly spelt out that Jesus came to save us from our sins. In Luke 19:10, Jesus clearly stated that he actually came to this world to seek and save the lost. He was clear about His mission here on earth for that short time that He lived here with us. However, our salvation is not an end in itself. The reason Jesus saved us is so that we can follow Him as our new master. Before we gave our lives to Jesus, we were followers of Satan, the god of this evil world (2 Corinthians 4:4). He had control over our souls and decisions. But the moments we accepted Jesus, Satan lost control over our souls and decisions. Jesus became our Lord and master.
In Matthew 4:19 and Matthew 9:9, Jesus called out to a few folks, and this time, it was a call to be his disciples. Following Jesus means becoming an apprentice of Jesus. The goal is first, that He would pour his life into us so that we can become like him, and second, that he may empower us to do the same work that he does. We cannot become like him without first paying the price of following Jesus. To follow Christ Jesus is to leave the things we used to know and embrace His own kingdom ideas about life. If you read Matthew chapters 5 to 7, you will see Jesus laid out how his new disciples would think about life. For instance, in Matthew 5:38, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. His ideas about life is in total conflict with the selfish ways of this world. Following Jesus is more than a mental assent, it is a decision to imbibe his way of life, and to let him live his own life in us.
Galatians 2:20 says it better, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” What does that mean? When we bow our heart and say Jesus, I consecrate myself to you and decide today to follow you for the rest of my life, we become his followers. We cease to live and Christ Jesus begins to live his own life in us and through us. We can no longer do things like every other person does it, we only do the things Jesus wants us to do. We now live according to what the Word of God says, with the single purpose of pleasing God.
Friend, the command to follow is a command to pay attention to Jesus and observe his life to the detail, and live exactly as he lived. John, the beloved, one of Jesus’ first followers put it this way, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked (1 John 2:3-6, NASB,emphasis mine)
May I ask you today, are you a follower of Jesus? Can people look at your life and see Christ Jesus? Are you living as Jesus lived? It is not enough to bear a christian name or be a church worker, you need to first encounter Jesus and make him the model of your life. Becoming a follower of Jesus is a decision we must make, it is a beautiful life, and it starts the moment we answer the call to make Jesus our master and example, and live our own lives in the same way Jesus lived his own.