…Jesus…saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ he told him…
Matthew 9:9 (NIVUK)
What is Christianity all about? Interestingly, when Jesus came across Matthew, he didn’t say to him, ‘follow this’ or ‘follow that’, ‘follow these laws’, or ‘follow this set of intellectual ideas’. Jesus simply said, ‘follow me’.
There is a radical self-centredness about Jesus. He talked about being alive before Abraham was born (John 8:58), that all the Old Testament scriptures pointed to him (John 5:38-39), and that he is the only way to God (John 14:6). Jesus had the audacity to say that our devotion to him should be greater than our devotion to anyone else even our parents (Matthew 10:37), that we are to give up everything else for him (Luke 18:22), and that he is the one who will give us spiritual rest (Matthew 11:28-30).
Jesus was always pointing people to himself and asks us the same question he asked Peter, ‘Who do you say I am?’ (Matthew 16:15). It is the most important question any human being could ever be asked. Only two responses are possible: Peter’s was to acknowledge that Jesus is ‘…the Messiah, the Son of the living God ’ (v.16), while the Pharisees refused to accept who he was and so missed out on real life (John 5:40).
What is our response to who Jesus claimed to be?
When Jesus asked Matthew to follow him, the text simply tells us that ‘Matthew got up and followed him.’ (Matthew 9:9). Wouldn’t it be great for us to have the same reaction? To follow Jesus means that we don’t follow anyone else: he becomes everything to us, and that we give our full devotion to him. It means that Jesus is not only our Saviour but is also the Lord of our lives.
Following Jesus will not always be easy, but thankfully, we have not been left on our own. Jesus knows that we need power beyond ourselves to follow him and that’s why he sends the Holy Spirit to empower us. It is only through the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can follow Jesus, while he assures us of the Father’s love, and makes the things of Christ real to us, and the gospel precious to us.
As we keep in step with him, we will follow Jesus into a newness of life. Not perfectly and not immediately, but day by day, as we walk in faith and obedience to him the Spirit will produce in us the character of Jesus. Now that’s something worth following after.
Lord Jesus, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, follow you more nearly,
day by day. In your name, we pray, Amen.
Study by Barry Robinson
About the writer:
Barry Robinson is a minister in Grace Communion International and Regional Pastor for Southern England.
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