“So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.” (Luke 5:11).
Have you ever thought through what it means to follow Jesus? The verb that Luke uses to describe the disciples leaving their boats and following Jesus is a term that expresses surrender that breaks all other ties. The disciples “forsook all” -- they left everything to follow Jesus. Following Jesus became their main priority. Such priority is the essence of being a disciple of Christ.
Following Jesus requires us to do what Jesus did the way He did it. We are to love the people He loves. We are to serve the people He served. We are to repeat His teachings. We are to strive to imitate His character, ways and actions. Following Jesus is all inclusive; it means letting go of everything else in order to follow Him. That is what Jesus expected of His disciples while He walked on Earth as God incarnate, and that is still what He expects from us today.
At Christmas, we celebrated God becoming man as Christ took on human flesh. Christ came to earth to pay a debt that He didn’t owe because we owed a debt that we couldn’t pay. The incarnation led to the crucifixion. Christ stepped out of heaven and onto earth with His eyes on the cross. Fully God, He was able to live a sinless life and remain spiritually alive until He gave up His spirit on the cross. Fully human, Jesus was able to represent all mankind before God on the altar of the cross.
Following Christ requires us to humble ourselves, empty ourselves and sacrifice our own comforts and pleasures for the benefit of others. Following Christ requires us let go of position, power and prestige and take on the form of a servant. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus came and served His own creation. To follow Christ is to serve others.
Some misunderstand their role as a follower of Christ. They see being a follower of Christ as a place or position of prestige and they demand comforts and care that they have been deceived into believing that they deserve. Those who misunderstand the role of a follower of Christ cry out “inform me,” “inspire me,” “entertain me,” “take care of me,” yet they resist the true transformation that results when we die to self and follow Christ. A follower of Christ will set aside their own preferences in order to meet the needs of others. A follower of Christ will not demand or expect others to serve them, but will look for opportunities to serve others.
Are you ready to follow Jesus? You were created by a passionate God who relentlessly pursues us to bring us into His family. We are brought into God’s family when we recognize that we are sinners in need of a Savior, we repent of our sin and accept the vicarious death of Jesus as the payment of our sin. We then submit our life to God’s control. As a child of God and follower of Christ, we move beyond just being hearers of the word and transform into doers of the word. As we follower Christ our belief impacts our behavior. As a follower of Christ, we stop looking for others to serve us and we begin looking for opportunities to serve others. Are you ready to follow Jesus?
Chuck Sprouse, a lifelong resident of Greenwood, is the Senior Pastor of the Ninety Six First Baptist Church. You can reach Chuck at firstname.lastname@example.org or 864-543-2333.