Saturday, March 14, 2015, 7:19 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Follow Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 1:35-51 (ESV).
Behold the Lamb!
The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.
Who led John’s two disciples to Jesus? Did John? Or, was it Jesus? Now I realize that this story precedes Jesus’ death and resurrection, so we are not talking here of people who believed in Jesus and were transformed (born anew) and indwelt with the Holy Spirit, as we are now, yet all people who have been saved of their sins and have been given the hope of heaven have done so through faith in God. Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. The people of old were saved by faith, not by works. They believed God and their actions revealed that their faith was genuine, as do ours today (See: Heb. 11). Yet, I want to take this story of people following Jesus and translate it into terms of post-Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the salvation we now have through him. And, in this case, I want to look at what it means to lead someone to Jesus.
In evangelical circles here in America, oftentimes you will hear people talk about leading someone to Christ. What they mean is that they presented the gospel of salvation to the individual, and the person made a decision to believe in Jesus, whether superficially or in reality (sincerely). What they mean is that they “closed the deal” with the person, i.e. they were there when the person prayed a prayer to receive Christ. And, thus they discount anyone else who has had any kind of input into the person’s life in also leading that person to Christ, via words spoken, prayers prayed, or actions taken to show Jesus to others. Yet, you will hear pastors and others brag on how many people they have led to Christ as though it is some star in their crown, and they will ask you how many people you have led to Christ, and if you have not “closed the deal” with someone, they don’t count it.
So, John said, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Did John pray the prayer with them? No! Did he tell them, in this instance, that they should follow Jesus, and did he ask them if they wanted to believe in Jesus? No! He merely declared out loud that Jesus is the Lamb of God, they heard him, and they followed Jesus.
In 1 Corinthians 3 we read about people being followers of men, because they were looking at what these people did, and they were raising one above the other. Paul made it clear that there are those who plant and those who water, but it is God who makes the plants grow. Amen! We are nothing but servants. One of us may declare who Jesus is, and may publicly share the gospel, but we may not be physically present with people when they believe in Jesus, and we may not be the ones to “pray the prayer” with them, but we are just as instrumental in “leading” people to Christ as those who “close the deal,” and perhaps more so, in some cases, because I believe many of these “conversions” are not genuine because what is being taught is not the true gospel of salvation, but a diluted version.
He Brought Him to Jesus
One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
The first thing Andrew did, once he found Jesus, and had followed him, was to find his brother and to tell him that he had found the Lord (the Messiah/the Christ). Awesome! He brought him to Jesus. He was physically present in the process of Peter also finding the Lord. Yet, Peter is still the one who had to make the decision to receive Christ as his Lord and to follow him, and it was the Spirit of God who truly is the one who drew him to Jesus, not a human being. Andrew introduced Peter to Jesus, but Andrew is not the one who changed Peter’s heart to where Peter also became a believer in Jesus Christ. God did!
The point of this is that we are each given different tasks (responsibilities) in the body of Christ. We should all be sharing Christ with people, as Andrew did with his brother, and we are all to make disciples of Christ of people of all nations, teaching them to obey Christ, i.e. we are not just to lead them to Christ and abandon them, if at all possible. But, we are to have a part in the nurturing, encouragement, teaching and spiritual growth of new believers and even seasoned believers in Christ (See: Eph. 4). Yet, some of us will plant, and others will water, but it is God who gives the increase, i.e. only the Spirit of God has the power to move a person’s heart to believe in Jesus and then to transform that person’s life to make him or her a new creature in Christ Jesus. All of us are just servants, and our job is just to do what God assigns us to do, but we must realize that it is God who changes hearts and that we are no better than others if we just happen to be privileged enough to witness these heart changes in a person. We need to keep this in perspective (See: 1 Co. 3).
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus Christ? Well, Jesus said his sheep know him, they listen to him, and they follow him (See John 10). To follow means to obey and to respect (honor) him. In James it says we are not to be hearers of the Word only, but we are to be doers of the Word. John 3:36 says: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Jesus said that whoever obeys (keeps) his word will never see death (Jn. 8:51). He said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (Jn. 14:23-24). In I John we read: “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.” “Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them.” And, “This is love for God: to obey his commands.” To follow is to obey.
Jesus also said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny his self-life, die daily to sin and self, and follow (obey) him (See: Lu. 9:23-25). He said that if we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self we will lose them for eternity, but if we die with Christ to our old lives of sin we will gain eternal life. Paul and the other apostles taught the same truth. Paul said the way we come to know Christ is by forsaking our former lives of sin, being changed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and by putting on our new lives in Christ, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24). Paul also taught that the grace which brings salvation teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (See: Tit. 2:11-14). He also taught that Jesus Christ died, not just to free us from eternity in hell, and not just to give us the hope of heaven, and not just to deliver us out of bondage of sin, but he died so we would no longer live for ourselves but for Him.
Following Jesus Christ means surrender of our wills to the will of the Father in heaven. Following Christ means we submit to God’s plans, purposes and will for our lives, and we cooperate fully with God’s work of grace in saving us and in making us to be like Jesus. It means we spend time listening to Jesus, and then we do what he tells us to do. It means Jesus knows us and we know him intimately. It also means we share Jesus Christ with others. I love how this story shows us the progression of one person leading someone to Jesus and that person then leading someone, etc. Followers produce other followers. Followers participate in God’s kingdom work, and thus they get to witness God’s miracles of grace in people’s lives. Followers hold to the teachings of Christ and of the apostles, and they share that teaching with others so others can also come to know Christ and become his followers, too. As followers, we are married to Christ, our desire is for him, and we want to hear him, do what he says, and live lives pleasing to him, because we love him.
Follow Him / An Original Work / February 21, 2013
Based off Luke 9:22-25
Jesus, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross.
Anyone who would come to Him
Must deny himself and follow.
He must take up his cross daily;
Die to sin and self each day.
Father, God above,
Loved us so: gave His Son.
If you want to save your old life;
Keep on sinning, follow your ways,
You will lose your life forever;
Hope of heaven gone away.
Spirit of our God
Gives us life in God’s Son.
Nonetheless, if you die to self;
Forsake your sin; follow Jesus,
You will live with God in heaven,
And forever praise His name!