Following Christ

What happens after we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior? Does our life go back to the way it was before? Do we follow the old ways of living and thinking? It shouldn’t. Receiving Christ into our life means becoming a follower of Jesus Christ. Being a disciple of God’s Son is serious. Being a Christian is serious. It’s much, much more than just attending the Sunday morning worship service at a church. It’s a lot more than going to church twice a year for Christmas and Easter. So, what does it mean to “follow” Jesus Christ?

The New Testament introduces us to many kinds of followers of Jesus Christ. Some were serious, some just wanted to see what Jesus would do and say next. Let’s first see examples of people who were serious about following Jesus.

“From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ They immediately 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. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.” Matthew 4:17-22

As we continue reading through the New Testament, we see that Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, and James and his brother John, were serious about following Christ. They all became members of the closest followers of Jesus Christ — known as Apostles. Peter later pointed out to Christ just how much following Him had cost them: “See, we have left all and followed You.” (Mark 10:28) Peter’s words describe well what it means to be a follower of Christ in any age. It is an all or nothing relationship. Jesus doesn’t want just a part of us — He wants everything.

Here’s how Jesus described those who would follow Him: “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34) Jesus was serious. He wasn’t playing mind or word games. He was telling people exactly what it meant to follow Him. Here’s what Jesus said to a wealthy man who expressed an interest in becoming a follower of Christ: “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 10:21) That man went away saddened by the words of Christ because he was wealthy. He wanted to follow Jesus on his own terms, but God decides what it will cost to follow Him.

At different times during Christ’s earthly ministry thousands of people “followed” Him:

“And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all.” Matthew 12:15

“When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.” Matthew 14:13

“Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him.” Mark 2:15

“So Jesus went with him, and a great multitude followed Him and thronged Him.” Mark 5:24

“Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:19

The last verse is very telling. Multitudes of people were “following” Jesus just days before He was arrested, beaten and crucified. Where were they during His arrest, beating and crucifixion? Almost every “follower” of Christ disappeared when the leaders of Israel determined to have Jesus murdered. A small number returned to Him after His resurrection, but that experience taught them much about the cost of discipleship. They learned that following Jesus could cost them everything.

Not everyone who says they are a Christian is a true Christian. Not everyone who says they are a follower of Christ is really following Christ. Following Christ will cost us something very precious: our love and devotion for starters — maybe even our very life. Being a follower of Jesus Christ means we love Jesus more than we love ourself — more than life itself. Being a follower of Jesus Christ means we are more devoted to Jesus than we are devoted to ourself — and anyone or anything else.

Think about that. Let it sink in. Following Christ is not cheap — in fact, it is the most costly thing we will ever do in life. Do we want to be a real follower of God’s Son? Let’s count the cost — knowing what it means to follow Him.

“Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:25-33

Jesus may not ask us to give all our riches to the poor, but He does ask us to be willing. He may not ask us to hate our father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and our own life also, but He does ask us to be willing. How serious are we about following Jesus Christ?

Jesus began His earthly ministry by working miracles — turning water to wine, healing the sick, feeding the multitudes, raising the dead. People flocked to Him by the thousands to see His miracles and hear His teaching. Jesus brought His earthly ministry to a close by telling people how much it would cost them to be His disciples. They left Him by the thousands. Then Jesus went alone to the Cross to die for their sins. That’s Who we follow. He gave everything for us — what are we willing to give Him?

In Christ’s Love and Grace,

Mark McGee

GraceLife Ministries

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