At first glance, you could take Jesus’ comments as insensitive and heartless. But they were candid and direct. “Follow Me, let those who have no hope, bury him who has died without eternal life.” This disciple of Jesus wanted it both ways though. “I’ll follow You Jesus, but first…” How many times have we bargained with the Lord? “I’ll follow You Jesus, but before I do… I want to accomplish this first, or obtain this coveted item first, or dabble in this questionable area first.” In times past, they used to call this sowing your wild oats…or putting your own selfish desires ahead of anyone else, including the Lord. But when Jesus said, “Follow Me.” to the disciple there was no negotiating.
There were many times throughout the Gospels Jesus repeated these words, “Follow Me.” At times it was to call specific people such as Peter and Andrew, or Phillip and Matthew. There were other times, when people approached Him, announcing they were going to “follow Him”,…some with good intentions, some not so much. And then there was the crowds that only occasionally followed Him…but they were most times merely looking for dinner and a show. So what does it really mean to “Follow Me.” It starts with what is called believing trust…I believe that Jesus died for my sins and thus I will trust in Him. And as I trust in Him, I grow more and more like in Him everyday, following His example as how I should live. Finally, “Follow Me” grows into a life-long relationship with Jesus…a fellowship of faith and life… filled with love, peace, and hope.
The question today is…are you walking in the light or in the darkness? Are you allowing panic, anxiety, and fear to rule and reign in your life or are you putting your trust and confidence in Jesus Christ? Proverbs 4:18 says, “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” While verse 19 says, “But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they don’t know what makes them stumble.” If you’re allowing the fear of the unknown to over-ride good judgment today, I urge you to stop…take a really deep breath…and consider. A wonderful word out of the Psalms is Selah…to pause. Pause to consider what has been the driving force behind all your actions lately. Is it fear or faith…panic or peace…agitation or assurance?
Elsewhere in Isaiah, God laments, “O My people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path.” (Isaiah 3:12) It’s almost like the blind leading the blind…with all of them wandering around in the dark. So how can we guard ourselves from this? The answer is discernment, wisdom, and sound judgment, based on personal knowledge of God’s word. No one will be able to lead you astray if you know the truth, and no one will be able to turn you from the correct way if you acknowledge that only Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
On many occasions Jesus told someone to “Follow Me.” Some did, but many did not. First off, we humans don’t like to be told what to do…we don’t like rules, especially rules on God’s terms not ours. But also, our selfish and controlling self wants to put “Following Jesus” in a neat well-defined package…like only on Sunday mornings in Church, while the rest of the week we’ll live for ourselves. But when Jesus says, “Follow Me” there is no room for negotiations…for He is God and we are not. That means we are to follow Him in faith, trust, and obedience, not the other way around…for it’s His agenda and His mission, not ours.
Whether you like it or not, you’re setting an example every day to those you come in contact with. It can be a good example, full of integrity and Christ-likeness…or it can be a bad example, full of worldliness and corruption. I Peter 2:21 tells us that we are an example to the world around us as we follow in Christ’s steps and this means in everyday living and speaking we are to imitate Him…emulating and patterning ourselves in His image.
This conversation happened during The Last Supper…Jesus had just told His disciples that where He was soon going they could not come. So in verse 36, Simon Peter asks Jesus, ” ‘Lord, where are You going?’ Jesus replied, ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.’ ” It happens so often…we catch a glimpse of what God has for us to do and we are impatient…desiring to heed Him immediately. So like Peter, we anxiously query, “Why can’t I follow you now?” But all of our gung-ho enthusiasm can’t measure up to the basic training and discipline we may need prior to God’s nod of approval. Over these years I’ve found one of the hardest words to accept gracefully from God is, “wait.” But I also know in the end any delay is only for my good and benefit.
Earlier in this Chapter, Jesus told Peter what the future held for him. But Peter wouldn’t let well enough alone…He now wanted to know what was in store for John also. This is when Jesus firmly reminded him that it was none of his business and Peter must focus his attention his own personal walk…not meddle into other’s. Sometimes we like to “help” God, when in fact, we’re actually interfering with His plan for other people’s lives. We think we know more than Him…but that’s when we usually get into trouble! From that fateful day at the Sea of Galilee when Jesus walked up to Peter and his brother Andrew casting their fishing nets…Jesus’s directive to Peter had not changed…”Follow Me!” He said. “Keep your eyes focused on Me and not others.”
Jesus had answered the rich young man’s question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” But when the young man arrogantly stated he had kept all the 10 Commandments from childhood…Jesus stared directly at him. Now Jesus could have called him out on it. He could have run down a list of 100 times this young man had failed…but He didn’t. Rather, Jesus looked into the young man’s eyes and saw his potential. So He gave him an invitation, but within that invitation was also a hard decision. A decision the young man sadly was not willing to make. We all have an Achilles heel…a area of our lives we hold on to, stubbornly clinging to, unwilling to trust it completely to the Lord. But it’s not until we surrender all aspects of our life to Jesus that we can fully follow Him. Jesus told the rich young man, “Trust in Me.” …and He’s asking that of you today.
From the moment Jesus beckoned that rag-tag group of fishermen with, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”… there has been the decision of whether we follow Jesus or not. For many, it’s a sacrificial decision…knowing that they are at risk of losing everything. Following Jesus sacrificially means accepting the potential loss of family, employment, and even freedom. But Jesus assured the disciples, and all of us, that this sacrifice isn’t without great reward…for in Luke 18: 29-30 He goes on to promise them, “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the Kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”