THIS BLOG SERIES STUDIES THE WORDS AND ACTIONS OF JESUS THROUGHOUT THE FOUR GOSPELS AND APPLIES THEM TO US TODAY. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO START AT THE BEGINNING, GO HERE.
Jesus is starting His earthly ministry, and how He does it and who He who He does it with will tell us a lot about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Let’s look at John 1:35-42:
“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. 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).”
How Jesus starts His ministry
There seems to be no systematic approach to the way Jesus begins His ministry. People today would call it “organic” or “grass roots.” Jesus is recognized as the Messiah while out for a walk, and two of John’s disciples then follow Jesus down the path. Jesus turns around, sees a couple of guys following Him, and asks them what they want. “What are you seeking?” Ask yourself this question – What do you want when you come to Jesus?
You don’t follow someone unless you want something from them. Remember when you were a kid and followed your mom around because you were hungry, thirsty, bored, tired or just wanted to hear them tell you they love you? You wanted something, and you followed them around until you got it.
When Jesus asks these men what they wanted, they ask Him where He is staying. “Where are you staying and where are you going?” They wanted to know if Jesus was the Messiah, the Savior, the long-awaited King. But they didn’t ask Him that. They simply asked Him where He would be sleeping that night. True to Jesus’ style, He knows their thoughts and answers both of their questions by saying “Follow me and find out.”
Following Jesus in 1st century Israel meant living like He lived, eating the same food, going from town to town and house to house, trusting the Rabbi to provide food, shelter, water, safety and provision. Being a disciple meant that they would be subject to all the experiences – good or bad – of their Rabbi.
So many times we romanticize this idea of following Jesus, living like He lived, walking in His path, as if it was easy or something. We think Jesus had it easy, walking around, sprinkling pixie dust on everyone, healing everyone, creating food and wine everywhere He went. I used to imagine Him as a 1st century celebrity. But that is not the case. Following Jesus was not easy. It meant ridicule, enduring cold weather, bloody and sore and dirty feet, sleeping outside, getting rained on, never knowing where you would be or what you would be doing the next day. It mean having NO personal space, because Jesus was constantly surrounded by people; and not just anyone, but the poor, lame, demon-possessed, sick, dying, and down-trodden. Let’s be honest – following Jesus is HARD. In fact, if it is not hard, you may be doing something wrong.
Jesus talked about is in Luke 9:23. It meant taking up your cross. “Come and die” was Jesus’ invitation to discipleship. Not catchy, is it? That would not be a good marketing slogan in today’s world. Jesus tells us in John 15:18-25 that a servant is not greater than their master, so if the master is persecuted, so will the servant.
Think about this. Is your life easy? Does everyone love you? Are you spoken highly of by your friends and family who do not love Jesus? Now, don’t get me wrong – this may be a good thing. Sometimes when truth is spoken and we witness to the lost, they understand and respectfully disagree. But Jesus says in Luke 6:26: “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” Being a follower of Jesus means telling the truth, and sometimes the truth is offensive. We need to put aside this idea that we need to make Christianity cool or that we need to make it something it isn’t. When Jesus told the truth, they mocked Him, tortured Him, spit on Him, nail His hands and feet to a wooden plank and left Him there to bleed out and die. The truth is divisive. Still don’t believe me? Read Matthew 10:26-42. Does this sound like a typical Sunday sermon to you? It sounds to me like a General going to war. It sounds dangerous and bloody and risky. It sounds like Jesus understood that the truth could put us in harm’s way.
So the next time you have the opportunity to feed the homeless or clothe the naked or protect a child or witness to the lost or love your neighbor or help someone in need … remember that you and I need to take “me” out of the equation (“What if they don’t like/respect/think highly of me anymore? What if this hurts our friendship/my image?”)
People don’t need to like you … but they do need to love Jesus.