On the first page of the Gospel of Mark, at least on the first page in my Bible, we hear some words of Jesus. Those words are the summary statement of Jesus:
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” 16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
Four central themes shape those first public words of Jesus:
1. God’s plan for history has come now to it special time of fulfillment. [The claim is astounding.]
2. God’s kingdom is on the verge of arriving.
3. Follow me.
4. The mission is now clear.
I want to look at #3, “Follow me.”
What’s the hardest aspect of Jesus to follow?
Following Jesus is popular today. It’s almost like a badge of honor to say “I’m a Christ follower” or “I’m a follower of Jesus” instead of saying “I’m a Christian.” But what is being said with this “I’m a follower of Jesus today?”
First, some follow Jesus by making their cause Jesus’ cause. They think they are following Jesus but they’ve only colonized Jesus into their cause. This is idolatry and a sham.
Third, you take the Gospels at their word — and I respect the hermeneutical issues here — and you follow the Jesus who is there. All four Gospels. All their lines. Not just some of them. Red letters and black letters. This is the church’s way of Jesus.
Take your pick. I wrote One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow for the third way. Many think they are in the third group but they are in the first or second group. Either we follow the Jesus of the Gospels or we don’t. Which means we have to listen to what he says, all of what he says, assuming he knows the way to the Father or we assume we know better.
The third way calls us to read, to listen, to trust, and to live.