Discipleship is following Jesus step-by-step. Down through history, many chose to follow men who have risen to power. Michael H. Hart wrote a book, “The 100: A Ranking of the Most influential Persons in History.” Jesus was number three on his list with Muhammed first and Sir Isaac Newton second. He said he would have put Christ first if his ideas were “widely followed.” That is our challenge; to follow Jesus simply as he asked.
Jesus called twelve men to follow him with this promise: “You will be catching people.”
They had watched and helped him for three years, but still were like ships wandering in the desert. When Jesus was crucified, their hopes were dashed until Resurrection Morning. Then, He told them to wait.
But, like Peter, we find waiting is very hard to do. Peter, being the person of action, told the men who had accompanied him back to Galilee, “I am going fishing.” Unlike Matthew, who having left his tax collector’s office, Peter could return to fishing, but Matthew?
He had burned his bridges behind him, and now what was he to do? No tax collector who left his booth could return as it was immediately snatched up by others just waiting for that opportune moment. That may be where you are, having left something behind to “follow him.” Let’s clear up some notions of what it does mean and what it does not mean.
We sing: “I have decided to follow Jesus,” and we quote Proverbs 3:5-6 with the promise that He will make our paths straight. But our paths will not always be straight and narrow for Jesus may have lessons for us to learn along that path. It does mean obeying and trusting Him even if our understanding is clouded. We must hunger and thirst for the truth for righteousness which means we choose to spend time with Him in his Word, not occasionally, but every day. We must yearn to learn from Him and that takes discipline. It will change the way we think and act. As His apprentice, we will learn humility, compassion, and forgiveness for others. The Pharisees had the scriptures, but Jesus denounced them for they knew what it said but not what it meant. To know is to study and to keep asking, seeking and knocking, and yes, sometimes even wait.
Many of us have “me-first-I-tis” disease. That must be changed to asking who is first in your life. Do we have the J-O-Y principle: Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last?
Our love for Jesus must supersede the love we have for the most precious of loved ones and even your own life. It does not mean abandoning your loved ones and never your parents. Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites because they called what they could use to care for their aging parents, corban (that is a gift for God); no longer to be used for them, but only for God alone. That is what we call cult sacrifice and that is not what Jesus meant. He meant you must honor your parents as that is a commandment given by God and is irrevocable. Obeying this shows that we know how to manage our own household as a measure of faith and obedience.
It means turning over ownership of our life as well as our possessions to him. It does not mean giving up our possessions but giving Christ ownership of them to be used for His purpose. When we allow Jesus permission to use our possessions, our time, and our talents, our fishing rod is poised to catch people who are living apart from God. Our bait is the Word and our life.
It means understanding the truth of Galatians 2:20, you are crucified with Christ and now you are spiritually alive because Christ lives within you. It does not mean actual crucifixion, but it does mean being a living sacrifice as your reasonable service of worship to Him.[Rom 12]. It means He is the Lord of our life and we have a desire to please Him. [Heb 11].
Hart did not believe Christians are true followers. Are you ready to prove him wrong?