Saturday, December 4, 2010

Following Jesus

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Throughout the Bible, we see Jesus beckoning people, inviting people and exhorting people to follow him. While Jesus was on earth, people were given the chance to actually follow him by walking beside him as he travelled and by physically migrating with him to those houses, mountain tops and beaches where he was spending time teaching and performing miracles. They could see him and hear his voice clearly. They could walk down the road with him, eat with him, or go fishing with him! To follow Jesus meant you would hang out with him, learn his teachings and do life with him. There were times during Jesus’ earthly ministry when he was virtually a celebrity and tons of people were flocking to where he was. There were other instances when he was regarded much more negatively and only those closest to him were by his side; though even they struggled to ‘follow him’ during those darkest hours.

Those men and women who followed Jesus were called his “disciples”, a word that literally means “follower, student, pupil and associate.” The call of Christ is to trust him and to imitate him by living like him and doing those things that he commands.

The word Christian actually means “little Christ” and was first used as an insult to describe believers in the early days of the Church who were following Jesus with their lives. They understood the call and were motivated by gratitude and worship in light of who Jesus is and what he had done for them. They understood what Jesus’ disciple John meant when he said “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”

Today, Jesus is not physically present on earth, but he reins in the hearts and lives of his disciples spiritually by the power of his Holy Spirit. Though absent in the flesh, Christ continues to call men and women to follow him.

Following Jesus means putting our trust or our faith in him. The truth is, everybody has faith in something or someone, and everyone is following somebody. Jesus’ call to follow him, is an exhortation to abandon our allegiances to inferior philosophies, lifestyles, and gods and to surrender all to him. He is king of the universe, and his call is a call to freedom, life and joy!

Jesus calls his followers to walk the road he walked, so this path of freedom and joy also involves suffering. Many times we can forget this aspect of discipleship, but it is critical that we understand it if we are to rightly follow Jesus.

Just before Jesus left the earth, he reminded his disciples that he would never leave them and that in fact he would always be with them. He has left us with his Word –the Bible so we can know him. He has given us prayer so that we can communicate with him, and he has given us each other so that we might follow him together –unified and filled with his spirit, we are His body.

(this post also available at

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