Jacob’s Ladder, Part 2

Jacob’s Ladder, Part 2 January 10, 2024

Jacob's Ladder

This passage also reminds me that the early Jesus followers had no decision to “accept” Jesus as their personal, private “Savior.” Such an individualized approach had not crept into the Jesus community yet. Instead, the call that Jesus makes in all of the gospels is to follow him, not to accept a gift from him.

Consider the following passages from the gospels. I’ve added italics for emphasis: 

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Mark 1:17)

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(Read this series from its beginning here.)

As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. (Mark 2:14)

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matthew 4:19)

But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:22)

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. (Matthew 9:9)

Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:38)

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)

After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him. (Luke 5:27)

He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” (Luke 9:59)

And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:27)

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22)

I share all of these passages so we can really get the impact of what the gospel call was. It was not to mentally assent and then go on living life as you always had. No, it was a radical departure from the status quo. You reordered your life to follow Jesus and his teachings, specifically his teachings about the “kingdom,” a way of being human together that was rooted in the Golden Rule, enemy love, nonviolence, resource-sharing, wealth redistribution as restoration and reparations, and more. It was a social vision where people committed to taking care of one another as the objects of God’s love and making sure each person had what they needed to thrive. It was about love of neighbor and a preferential option for those the present system marginalized. 

As this new year begins, this is a good time for all of us to take a little inventory of what it means to be a Jesus follower today. It’s more than worshipping Jesus. It’s more than accepting him. It’s more than trusting Jesus the way we trust an insurance company. It’s about following him and his vision for what life could look like here on earth, and working toward shaping our world into a safe, compassionate, just home for everyone. Love of neighbor means seeing your fellow human, whomever they are, as part of yourself and all of us together as part of the human family. It means committing to be a part of what is best for us all. 

Lastly in our reading this week, Jesus speaks directly to Nathaniel of Jacob’s ladder. We’ll take a closer look at that in our final installment, next.

(Read Part 3)

About Herb Montgomery
Herb Montgomery, director of Renewed Heart Ministries, is an author and adult religious re-educator helping Christians explore the intersection of their faith with love, compassion, action, and societal justice. You can read more about the author here.

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