Bible Reading: John 21:20-25
What do you think of when you think of an aeroplane- a flying thing, yeah? What do you think of when you think of a gun- a killing thing, yeah? What do you think of when you think of a phone- a communicating thing, yeah? What do you think of when you think of a disciple of Jesus?
A following person, do you?
With the twelve disciples, that was actual very literal. It feels like that’s what every line of the Gospels actually says: ‘Jesus went… and his disciples followed…’
We’ve defined a disciple as someone who is committed to following and learning from another, fully embracing the trainings and disciplines therein. Following is an essential and core part of being a disciple.
We’re most probably not going to be followers in our day and age by literally walking after, but I think the meaning comes clear all through Scripture.
What does it mean to follow? To follow means to turn away from all else, and to go after. It means to pattern your walk and life after someone or something.
When we say we are disciples of Jesus, we are saying that we are followers of Jesus. We are saying that we do all that we can to pattern our lives and directions after Jesus.
This is not a thing for ’strong’ christians. It’s a fundamental Christian thing.
The primary call Jesus made to his disciples was ‘Follow me…’
For some of them, that meant turning away from people. For some, it meant abandoning professions. For some, it meant abandoning habits. But every disciple of Jesus counts the cost and follows him.
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 NIV
We live in a generation where the concept of following is largely underrated and undervalued. Everyone is taught about being a great leader, being an entrepreneur, being their own boss, having their own rights, etc.- and at the heart of it is a desire to be your own god.
But there is a disciple life and delight anchored in following that we must not lose. David never set out to lead Israel, he set out to follow after his father’s sheep. Moses never set out to lead Israel; he was only faithfully following his father in laws sheep; Joshua never set out to lead Israel, he was only faithfully following Moses; Elisha was only faithfully following Elijah; Esther was only faithfully following Mordecai’s mentorship; Timothy faithfully following Paul; Peter faithfully following Paul…
We are not merely called to belong to a church. Disciples follow the faith and doctrine of a church. We are not called to have spiritual leaders. We are called to follow them. We are not merely called to be leaders of tomorrow. We are called to submit and follow.
Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Hebrews 13:7 NKJV
In fact, they follow carefully.
But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 2 Timothy 3:10 NKJV
They look beyond questions doubts and what others are doing and saying to follow.
Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” John 21:21-22 NKJV
May we not be christians who think it is our job to lead Jesus. May we not pray and build a religion that is out to lead Jesus. May we not be a people that lose the wonder and beauty of following those that God has set above us. May we be followers of the faith and doctrine, followers of the traditions, followers of the love and steadfastness and of the practices of those who God has set before us. That is Bible tradition. No christian is called to just travel a journey of personal preferences and to ‘figure things out’. We are called to imitate Jesus and to imitate those He sets above us.
Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJV
Who are you deliberately imitating? What are you imitating? How well are you doing with that?
All christians are called to be disciples. Disciples follow.