Follow Me … I Will Make You Matt. 4: 19
(Text: Matt. 4:18 – 22, Matt. 10:37-39; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23-27)
Jesus consistently required his disciples to follow Him when he was on earth (Matt. 4:19), and even after he was resurrected the scriptures say we should look up to Him as the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2), if He is the author and finisher then no one should come in between us and him and the scriptures stated that beyond just looking we must now follow his footsteps (1Pet. 2:21-25).
This scripture gave a summary of the steps Jesus followed which we must follow. Therefore, today when Jesus says follow me, he means we should follow all his life, teaching, endurance, perseverance etc but greater than just following is what is required of a disciple before following him as that is what will ensure a lasting following. In this study we shall explore why we need to follow Christ; how should we follow Him. The Process of making His followers and the Ultimate objective of following Christ.
Why Should We follow Christ?
The disciples did not just follow Christ, some things were unique about Him which He alone has that qualified Him to be whom we must follow today. He explored some of these reasons to us in the gospel and other scriptures.
- He is the only perfect reflection of the father: (Heb. 1: 1-3), Jesus alone is the only expressed image of the father, his personality, ministry and being are what reveals the father to us whom we do not see, therefore following Him alone are key, He alone knows the way and reflects the Father to us. No man on earth no matter how great shares that quality, even Paul said to be an imitator of me as I imitate Christ(1 Cor.11:1).
- He is the only one that knows the father and can reveal Him to men: (Matt. 11:27, John17:25), this is the real kernel of the Gospel, if anyone wants to know God it is through Christ, so when you follow Christ then the father can be revealed to you the more. That is one of the reasons why the disciples have a better revelation of God than the crowd (Matt.13:10-11). So today if you want to know God more, He is revealed through Christ. If you want to know the intent of anything that is being done in the old testament, you can only know that through Christ. He is the only one with the full light of God, no man has the full light they can only guide us to Christ’s full light.
- He is the author and finisher of our faith: The book of Hebrews highlights who we should be looking at and the reason for that, because he is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). The author writes a book and for every word he knows the word and the reason behind it, the intent and purpose of it. So also, Christ, he is the author of faith, anything you cannot find in him does not exist, and we must know several things are being done today which is Judaism and not Christ we must beware. The other implication is that once He is the author, He does not just author, he follows up what he authors to ensure its accomplishment(finisher)John 6:63
- He was on earth to do only the will of the father: John 6:38 one of the key reasons why you must follow Christ is that he was on earth to do the will of the father in totality. When he was baptized the father confirmed his sonship, on the mount of transfiguration he confirmed his sonship, and at Gethsemane, he laid down his will for the father’s will. So, Jesus was and is still such a perfect being that only does the will of the father. Many humans still integrate their will into the father’s will and therefore do not qualify to be followed because the infiltration of the will of man into the will of God results in the flesh.
- Because He alone is the way and knows the way to eternal life: John 14:5-7, where Jesus says “I am the way” not a way, which means he alone is the only way to the father. You need to follow who knows the way and Jesus is the only one who knows the way to the father. Men can only share experiences, but Jesus shares the truth.
How should we follow Him?
For us to understand how to follow Christ we need to look at how all his disciples followed Him and what He requires of them to do before following him. There are things Jesus normally says to his followers, let us review some of them. Matt. 16: 23-27, Matt. 10: 37-39
- Self-Denial: The first requirement that Jesus put forward to every man before following Him is the denial of self, what is self-denial? This is when you fail to please yourself but rather choose to please Christ. Jesus gave a better description in Mark 14: Therefore, everyone that wants to follow Christ must have been dead to himself, crushed at the cross, and never live again for any glory or fame.
Paul put it in a better perspective in Phil 3: 7-8. Paul said he counted all the glory as rubbish that he may gain Christ, here gaining Christ is synonymous with following Him. Today several are fighting for positions, fighting for Church, fighting for fame. You want to ask if these men are following Christ Gal. 2: 20. Paul here says the life he lives now is no longer his life, his life was dead and that is denial. Denial is key because anyone that will follow Him must not seek his glory.
How many people can be called a brother today without a problem, how many can work for God without a portfolio? How many can serve God without expecting rewards? It becomes impossible for men to obey the word of Christ without denial, what if they do not give you a birthday gift or celebration, these are many things that have crept in that are seriously affecting our self-denial.
What is it that you will deny yourself today? The young ruler wanted to follow but was not ready to deny himself; he looked at his wealth and was not ready to deny it. That’s why in the New Testament you don’t see 10% because Jesus has taken all of you and not 10%, he owns you and everything you have Luke 10: 17-27.
- Bear the Cross: Luke 14:27, Matt. 10:38 The second requirement from where we read is to take up the cross, the cross is not suffering or sickness as no man picks suffering or sickness rather it is a symbol of shame. Heb 12:2 ‘’We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne’’(NLT). The cross is a symbol of shame, so where does shame come to the saint? It is the desire or decision to follow the will and word of God as against the world’s most popular views. A cross-bearer carries the cross and does not just admire the cross, he carries it daily (Luke 9:23). some men merely love the cross but are not ready to carry it like Nicodemus, Simon the sorcerer and Joseph Arimathea, these men were not initially ready to bear the shame of the cross due to their position in society but thank God they later came out but then they lost some encounters with Christ. 1 Cor.15:31, Paul says he dies daily, that’s bearing the cross daily; the flesh is taken to the stake daily.
- Follow Christ: After denial and carrying the cross, it becomes easy to follow Christ, so what is following Christ? John 8:31 Following Christ is completely following all His instructions, passionately keeping an eye on Him always, living for Him daily and no longer for yourself, and learning from Him and His life daily, daily as we follow Him we must do two things that Christ did, endure the cross and despise the shame Heb. 12:2
What determines how far a man will follow Christ
- The level of our encounter: Your encounter is the first thing that defines your following Christ, if you see a man that followed Christ without giving up, it is because the level of his encounter is greater than the distractions of the world and vice versa. One of the men of the scripture that we can see that followed Christ was Paul and one thing about Paul was that GOD ENCOUNTERED HIM in (Acts 9: 1-7) and HE ENCOUNTERED GOD (Gal.1: 15-20). The two looks similar but they are different, one was initiated by God, but Paul set up the other encounter. Do not always wait for God to set up an encounter with you, you should also set up an encounter with God
- The level of revelation and knowledge: (1 John 1: 1-2), what kept the Apostles was the level of revelation, and what is revelation? It is not just a dream but rather the totality of what makes God’s presence, sovereignty, personality and presence more real and feelable to you. A man without revelation and knowledge will see the journey as tiring because he does not have the freshness of encounter daily. And the revelation of God to us must have no end, it must be daily, unique and persistent, that’s why after several years Paul was still saying “…that I may know him” (Phil. 3: 10). The day you stop knowing God is the day you stop following Him because followership comes with revelation and knowledge. No man can exhaust the knowledge of God and that is why we must never stop following or stop knowing.
- The daily impact of the holy spirit: Acts 1:8 One key thing that was lacking that affected the disciples when Jesus was on earth was that they were not able to have personal enablement, they had always depended on Christ and after Christ left they lost the strength to follow, even after God scolded Peter and he repented, he still went back to fishing, even when Christ asked Him “loveth thou me more than this?” (John 21:15-19) he still failed but the failure ended when he was filled with the Holy Ghost. Being filled with the holy ghost should not be a one-time experience, rather it should be a daily experience because we sometimes leak. Acts 2:4, And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Act 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. Acts 13: 52 And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit (NASB)
- The level of your seeking, perseverance and passion for Christ: Finally, your passion and zeal will determine if you will follow to the end on the way. In following Christ, you must know that you do not decide the direction of the journey and therefore if you are not passionate and persevering you may lose site of Jesus. Paul says that “What shall separate us from the love of Christ” (Romans 8:35-39), There are times you will think Jesus was taking you through the waters but he already knows what to do to make you pass through it. Persevere, there are times it will seem like you should go back but persevere and keep seeking him. Even anytime you notice you have missed the footstep of Jesus do not just give up but keep looking for him until you find him again.
How does He make His followers?
- He makes them to His honour and beauty: 2Cor. 4:7, As the disciples keep following Jesus, He began to make each into a different being, several times we see massive grace and power, we see unction and glory, we see healings etc but the disciple must always know that as good as all these are they are in an earthen vessel and not metal so they must continue to acknowledge His grace (John 3: 30-31).
- His ultimate intention is to make them an express image, a reflection of Himself: (Matt. 28:19, Acts. 11:26, 1Pet. 2:9), the major reason why Christ makes disciples is to reflect Himself and create a replica of himself among the people. He wants the men that would be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. No matter what we achieve for the kingdom if we do not become the express image, we have failed his ultimate reason for discipleship.
Finally, remember the injunction of Christ was for us to make disciples of men, today we have several members but how many disciples? Today we boast of several sons of the prophet but how many disciples? How many fulfil this requirement?
Copyright ©God Seekers Renewal Centre 2020