“After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, ‘Follow me'” (Luke 5:27).
While in the construction industry some years back, I sometimes found myself in a pickle. I would come across something I had never seen or done before. A few times I actually went to the library and got out a book to try to understand what I needed to do (those were not pre-Google days, they were pre-internet days!). I usually struggled with the descriptions and diagrams in the book.
But when I had someone with me, actually showing me how, I was able to grasp the concept and duplicate it fairly easily. I would not be surprised if this was the very method by which Jesus learned his trade (Mark 6:3).
Jesus did not come to earth to merely say words, or write an instruction manual (though the Bible is an instructional manual, of sorts). He came to lead the way – to personify, to show us how to do it. And these two words changed the course of human history: “Follow me.”
Here are a few things Jesus shows us when we follow him:
1. He shows us all that the prophets said. Jesus was much more than a mere rabbi, an instructor. He was not explaining or merely quoting prophecy, he was the living embodiment of it (Luke 24:25-27, 44-46; Revelation 19:10). He shows himself to be the Christ (Acts 1:3; John 10:37-38).
2. He shows us how to walk in light. Critics are still silent. They have no response to his bold and marvelous question in John 8:46: “Which of you convicts me of sin?” His steps show us – by principle – how to walk a holy, consecrated life.
3. He shows us how to minister to people. Jesus was in the people business (Luke 19:10). He walked with them, talked with them, ate with them, mourned with them, rejoiced with them, socialized with them, touched them, was touched by them, healed them, fed them, taught them. And “them” were diseased, rich, poor, outcast, hungry, the self-righteous, and the embarrassed. Nobody was too good, or too bad, for Jesus. He loved them all, perfectly. He shows us how to view and treat others.
4. He shows us the Father. “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). God is complex, eternal – in so many ways, beyond our comprehension (Romans 11:33-34). But Jesus was God on earth, in the flesh (Matthew 1:21). He became like us (Hebrews 2:17), so that we might better understand and appreciate our heavenly Father.
5. He shows us how to suffer faithfully. Everyone suffers in this life. But how we suffer matters. Jesus not only talked a good game about suffering (Luke 6:22-26), he also demonstrated it (1 Peter 2:20-24). Countless people have endured their own sufferings in life because they had a Savior on a cross to whom they could look.
6. He shows us the way home. “And you know the way to where I am going” (John 14:4, ESV). Little did Jesus’ disciples realize at that moment that Jesus had already shown them all they would need to live eternally with him. They already knew the way and didn’t even realize it: they had walked it with him for the past three years.
To follow Christ is to live. One who does not follow him is not alive at all, but is walking in darkness (John 8:12; 14:6). Are you following Jesus? If not, why?