by Rob Parlante
Jesus uses the phrase Follow Me about 19 times in the Gospels. In the majority of these instances, He is addressing the Apostles. He is assembling the Apostles to be with Him so He can teach them and reveal God’s plan of salvation to them. The plan that He would die be buried and raised on the third day for the forgiveness of sins. And by faith in Christ death, burial and resurrection, one receives eternal life being born again. Follow Me is an introduction to Jesus. It’s the start of having a relationship with Him which leads to having a more intimate relationship with Him. In one particular instance Jesus uses this phrase as He encounters the “Rich Young Ruler”. This man was seeking eternal life. He was searching for the meaning of life. Let’s look at Matt 19:16-22.
Matthew 19:16-22 (NASB) 16 And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” 17 And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 Then he *said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS; 19 HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 20 The young man *said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.
The offer to man to follow Jesus is always on the table. The Holy Spirit is still (John 16:8) drawing men to Jesus. The Holy Spirit is drawing men to have a relationship with Jesus. But from a human perspective, this relationship has to have a starting point. Man can reject the offer to follow, or yield to the offer and follow. Following Him is the starting point of this relationship. Examining Matthew 19:16-22 we get a better idea of what following me means. This passage deals with a rich man inquiring about obtaining eternal life. This man is inquiring about his spiritual future. Right off the bat, the man asks what must I do to obtain eternal life. Isn’t this always the question? Man is always looking for the thing(s) he must do. To expose the error of keeping the law (rules and regulations) for obtaining eternal life, Jesus tells the rich man to enter life, keep the commandments. Jesus mentions 6 out of the 10 commandments. The rich man claims to have kept these commandments, but in his heart perceives he is still lacking something. What am I lacking he asks. Jesus tells him to sell his possessions and give to the poor and Follow Me. The man went away grieving, because he owned much property. This man hadn’t gotten to the point of realizing that trusting in wealth and trying to be good (By keeping the law) doesn’t give one eternal life. Being a good person doesn’t guarantee eternal life. Jesus doesn’t say it here, but He is trying to expose the error of self reliance and self effort not being the way to eternal life. Jesus is saying I am the way, come and Follow Me.
When we finally ask ourselves, what am I still lacking because life just isn’t working? Life’s circumstances and the Holy Spirit are drawing you to Jesus. We need to look to Jesus and decide to follow Him. Following Him is investigating who Jesus is. Following Him is looking into what Jesus offers.
I stopped going to church in my teens, I loosely followed Him for 12 years, until I came to Him and was born again (See Blog, Why Don’t You Just Try Coming to Christ?). I followed Him from a distance and tried to do good like the rich young ruler. Following Jesus doesn’t mean you need to be perfect; it’s just a willingness to investigate and learn about Him. If you haven’t considered following Him, please make this critical decision in your life now and do so. This is the starting point of your relationship with Him. This is the first level of intimacy with Jesus. Jesus is being revealed to you. You are at the start of getting to know Him and following Him. Following doesn’t guarantee eternal life, but following leads to eternal life.
If life isn’t working for you and you are asking the same question as the rich young ruler about eternal life, the answer isn’t about you keeping rules and relying on self, but entering into God’s Grace by faith for the forgiveness of your sins.
Why Don’t You Just Try following Christ?
Try this and see how Christ will reveal Himself to you and change your life.
If you would like to learn more about the truths described here, come join us at Grace Christian Church, currently meeting at the Freehold VFW, every Sunday at 9:30 am.
Elder / Grace Christian Church