Good morning! We’re going to look this week at another important aspect of being a disciple of Christ. Jesus first called His disciples to follow Him. That meant Peter, Andrew, James, John and the other disciples walked with Him — they literally took steps in the process of following Christ. That’s what we’re going to look at this week — the steps we take to follow Jesus Christ.
We know from reading the Gospels that thousands of people followed Jesus Christ during His Ministry on earth. They loved to be healed and fed. They clamored for His attention and reached out to touch His garments having seen the miraculous healing others had received by doing that. But where were those thousands when Jesus was dying on the Cross? Where were His followers? Many in the crowd had turned against Jesus when His Messages became tough to believe or reconcile into their religious traditions. Some returned home to live their lives without Christ in it. Many stood in another crowd and jeered and mocked Jesus as He carried His Cross along the streets of Jerusalem to Golgotha. Even the Lord’s closest disciples left him. They ran away when Jesus was arrested. Peter later denied three times that he even knew Jesus. Judas committed suicide after receiving payment for identifying Jesus to the arresting Roman soldiers. A seemingly sorry end to such a promising future.
Only a few people took the steps necessary to follow Jesus all the way to the Cross.
“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.” John 19:25-27
John was that disciple Jesus loved. He ran away from Jesus hours earlier when the soldiers came to arrest the Lord. But he finally made the decision to take the steps necessary to be with his Master at what he thought was the end of a dream. John stood at the Cross, with the Lord’s mother and aunt, and Mary Magdalene — a woman who knew the Power of Christ in her life (Luke 8:2). There they were, the four of them, watching Jesus pour out His Lifeblood for the world. What did Jesus do for them as they waited? He took care of His mother’s future – “And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.” At a time when others would think only of themselves, Jesus was thinking about others. That’s what God does. He gives the most precious gifts to those who follow Him – all the way to the Cross.
So, how do we walk like a Christian? Our first step is to believe. The Apostle Paul said it so simply and powerfully in answering the question of a man who thought he was going to die – “So they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31) The word for “believe” is a strong word in the Greek language (pisteuo). It means to “be fully persuaded, trust completely, rely upon fully.” Believing in Jesus Christ has never been about just believing He existed. Thousands of people saw Jesus teach, preach, heal and work miracles. They believed in His Existence. But we know that only a small number of people were fully persuaded to trust on Him completely.
What happens to someone who “believes on the Lord Jesus Christ” and is saved? The Bible says God forgives them of their sins and places them into a “right standing” before Him. The New Testament uses the word justified. The Greek word is dikaioo and means “to deem to be right, to be rightous.” This is a legal term and means that a judge is involved. Who is the Judge of all men? God. He determines what is right (dike) and wrong (adikos) in His Courtroom. What God says stands. So, what does He says about the righteousness of people? “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” (Romans 3:10-11) The Judge of all mankind also says this about sinners: “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:19-20) It sounds hopeless; the entire world is guilty before God. Ah, but that’s not where it ends.There’s more! Read on-
“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:21-28)
God revealed His Righteousness “apart from the Law!” The Law and the Prophets are witnesses to the fact that the Righteousness of God comes to the human race “through faith in Jesus Christ.” All people are guilty before God – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” How can God possibly look at our sinfulness and accept us in a “right standing” before Him? We are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” What did Jesus do to redeem us? He died on the Cross – “whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood.”
Imagine you’re in a courtroom, charged with a death penalty crime. The judge looks at you and says, “guilty,” then gets up from his judicial position, takes off his robe, walks around to stand next to you, put his arm around you and says, “I’ll die for you. I’ll take the punishment for your crime so you can live and be free.” That’s what God did for us. He pronounced us guilty, then left His Throne in Heaven, took off His Kingly Robe, and died to pay the penalty for our sins. Because of what Jesus did for us, we are in a right standing before God by faith — “because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Before we can “walk like a Christian,” we have to “stand like a Christian.” Our simple act of faith, believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, places us into a “right standing” before Almighty God. It is at that moment we become followers, disciples, of Jesus Christ — co-heirs with Christ — children of God. Once we are able to stand before God, we can then take the steps to follow Him.
Where do you stand with God? Have you placed your faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone to be saved? Read the verses above again if you haven’t. It all starts with faith – “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) Start there right now. Place your faith, your complete and total reliance, in Jesus. What will God do? He will forgive you and give you the gift of eternal life. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!
If you are a believer, you have taken the first step to walk like a Christian. Join me here again Wednesday to see what’s next in this amazing journey!
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”