Is it necessary to follow Jesus?
It is necessary to believe in Jesus. A person can be saved from hell through a last minute believing. But if it is not last minute, the true believing will never be alone or without a change of heart leading to a change of values and a change of actions. This repentance will always be seen if there is true believing, as long as the person has some time to show it (so we are not talking about deathbed conversions now, where there is no time).
People’s hearts change slowly at times. The realisation of the truth seems to trickle through gradually in some cases. God is merciful, but also, God is not mocked. He should be feared. Sometimes religious people follow Jesus very incompletely or inaccurately BECAUSE of the effect of religious traditions, which (as Jesus said in Matthew 15) make the word of God of no effect.
The power of church leaders is great in limiting people’s obedience to God’s Word – if they themselves are not obeying it in some areas.
But if a person persists in faith and in the Word, eventually the truth should get through enough for a person to see that Jesus is worth everything. That He is Lord, and it is expected that we obey His Word, which we can only do by learning it and then submitting to the work of the cross and the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
You Must Serve Somebody
Jesus said in the temptation, “Go away Satan! It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve”. (Matthew 4:10)
If we are not serving Jesus or serving God correctly, then we are doing our acts of service for another reason. It could be for money, or for family, or probably for SELF. Some actually consciously serve idols, or even the devil.
To serve idols, even the idol of self, is rebellion.
So we are called to serve Jesus. As He is Lord. But HOW are we supposed to serve Him? Are we supposed to do what we want to do – for example donate money to His servants, or run a Sunday school class, or evangslise, as we want, in the ways we want? Or is there a further requirement?
It turns out that according to Jesus, if we want to serve Him, we must follow Him
John 12:26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.
So it is not enough to serve on our terms. We must follow Jesus. What that will mean is that we will be WITH HIM. In all our serving, we will be followers of Him – and that implies at first, that we come to Him, and secondly that we will stay behind Him – letting Him lead. And there are certain requirements of following, and certain implications.
You are called to serve not idols, but serve Jesus by following Jesus. So what does that mean?
What does it mean to follow Jesus?
Matthew 4:19 “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men!”
Verb – Imperative – 2nd Person Plural
Strong’s Greek 1205: Come hither, come, hither, an exclamatory word. From deuro and an imperative form of eimi; come hither!
Strong’s Greek 3694: Behind, after; back, backwards. From the same as opisthen with enclitic of direction; to the back, i.e. Aback.
What Does it Require to Follow Jesus?
There are two parts of following Jesus:
- Coming to Him regularly
- Staying behind Him – letting Him lead!
You cannot follow Jesus unless you are willing to come to Him.
You cannot come to Him unless you have faith (Hebrews 11:6) – believing that He will reward you for drawing near to Him. There is a reward as well as price.
You must deny yourself – there will be other things you want to do at times besides draw near to Jesus, and you will have to say “No” to these other things if you are going to follow Jesus.
There will at times be pain in the path of following Jesus. To keep following Jesus, you will need to endure through the pain faithfully, including dying to your own will, if you want to follow Him.
And you must come.
And you must come after – meaning let HIM take the initiative.
Jesus also did not take the initiative independently, but rather waited on the Father and did just what He saw the Father doing. He didn’t even speak on His own initiative – but rather, spoke what He heard from the Father.
As we grow more like Jesus, there will be more divine initiative and less personal independent initiative in our lives.
Following Jesus in the Age of the Holy Spirit
We can’t physically follow like Jesus’ 12 apostles, going where He went physically.
But because the Holy Spirit is placed within us, to guide us, and also upon us, to empower us, we can be guided by the Holy Spirit in line with the Scriptures (the tool He most often uses) in order to draw near to Jesus and place ourselves behind Him in a posture of following. The promptings of the Holy Spirit actually come from Jesus and the Father, because the Holy Spirit does not speak on his own according to John 16:13
However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming.
So following Jesus is now a matter of remaining in the Words of Jesus (and the Bible generally, since it all comes from Him and is One with Him) and in connection with the Spirit of God, in obedience – even when it means we can’t do what we would normally want to, or if it would be painful.
How High A Priority Should Following Jesus Be?
But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:22)
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. (Matthew 10:38)
What Should Be the Results of this Following?
- Being like our Master.
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.
We should become like Jesus in character and in capacity to bless others and do the works of the Kingdom. This is a progressive thing. We grow into it.
- Being honored by the Father
“And My Father will honour anyone who serves Me” (John 12:26)
This could take many forms, including influence and respect in this world, but certainly in the next.
- Christ will make you a fisher of men (you will catch men for the Kingdom!)
- Hundred fold blessings
Matthew 19:27 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”
28 So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother [h]or wife or children or [i]lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
The implication here is that truly following Jesus is likely to cost you something serious.
This message should be continued at a later date, but if not, I hope it has been helpful for you.