“Following Jesus is more than nodding a head, raising a hand, or repeating a prayer – though someone coming to Christ can do any of those. Following Jesus is not returning to life as usual, the only difference being that we’re now going to Heaven. Following Jesus is abandoning trust in ourselves, surrendering all we are and have to Him. This, and nothing less, is discipleship.” – Randy Alcorn
What does following Jesus mean? Following Jesus sounds so simple, but is it that simple? Once we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are agreeing to submitting or surrendering ourselves to Him, to pattern our lives after Him, and to place our relationship with Him above our own will and desires. Following Jesus is a life-changing commitment to be taken seriously.
Matthew 4:21-22 says, “A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.” They immediately followed Him. Today, we tend to resist a new direction if it means leaving the comfortable to embrace the great unknown. We weigh the potential sacrifice before we agree to serve. But James and John didn’t hesitate.
Jesus called them, and smack in the middle of relationships, responsibilities, and very real life, they left all that they had and followed Him. No deliberation, no dramatic persuasion, no obsession with personal agendas, and no holding onto the past. They went immediately.
This one thing that was true in Biblical times as it is in 2020 is this: the rate at which we are willing to follow Jesus is directly proportional to the proximity of our relationship with Him at that moment. James and John were instantly convinced to follow Jesus because they believed He was who He said He was. Yes, they had a lot to learn and sometimes learned slowly, but through it all, they trusted that following Jesus was greater than anything this world had to offer. Because they trusted they were transformed. They changed because they left everything that had the potential to come between them and an intimate life-altering relationship with Jesus.
Following Jesus is making a very personal, individual decision. It is a choice everybody is offered and must choose through faith. Following Jesus is not about religion. Following Jesus is to learn to live your real, present life with all its responsibilities, relationships, and roles as Jesus would live it if it were His. Then start to use every means available to learn more about Jesus and to understand His teaching. Reading the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—is a good starting point to come to know Jesus and His ways more fully.
The final step is making a decision. We decide to follow Jesus. We commit to listening to Him, to obeying Him, and to allowing Him to shape our lives.
- What does following Jesus mean to you?
- Why is it useful to know more about Him to effectively follow Him? What can we do this week to increase our knowledge of Him?