“Come, follow me,” Jesus said (Mark 1:17)
You and I have followed people our entire lives. When I was a kid, I followed my mom and dad around. I followed friends and began to take after what they did. I remember playing basketball in the driveway as a kid, boombox plugged in, mix tape playing and trying to model my jump shot after Michael Jordan. In case you’re wondering, I never perfected that one. People you follow, you want to become like. I wanted to be “like Mike.”
Each of us have followed people in our lifetime, but there is one person that each of us has followed. We began following them at birth, we have never stopped following them. We love this person, and this person is the same answer for everyone on the planet, for all of history. And no the answer is not God.
The person that each of us has followed since birth is ourselves. When we are born, we have one person we naturally love, and it is not God, it is us. And so we look out for ourselves, we cry or yell ‘mine’ when someone takes our toy, we get fired up and arch our backs in the high chair, because mushy peas are gross. We don’t always respond with gladness and joy to authority of a parent, coach, teacher, or another telling us what to do.
Because frankly, we like the authority. Each of us are born with hearts that are sinful. Hearts that are prone to disobey and resist authority. And yet with ourselves, we always obey us, and never resist our own authority.
But Jesus continues to invite us, asking us the question, will you follow me? Will you lay down your preconceived ideas of who I am, and follow me? Will you lay down your agenda and instead pick up mine? Will you turn from living for yourself, and instead live for the One who died and rose again for you?
And we hear Jesus saying ‘come follow me,’ and maybe we think who gives Him the authority to ask me such a life changing question? And that question brings us to Easter morning.
Easter sets Jesus apart from all the rest. Easter is what makes Christianity distinct, and it is what makes it life changing, compared to the enslavement of just another religious, man-made system of rules and regulations.
All other religions were founded by men and prophets whose end was the grave. As Christians, we take comfort, hope and joy in the fact that our God became man, died for our sins, and was resurrected the third day.
We celebrate Easter Sunday because nearly 2000 years ago, a man named Jesus, who lived halfway around the world, who experienced one of the most horrific ways of death on a Friday, was buried, but that wasn’t the end of the story. He came back to life, He lives, and now sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven.
Among other things, in His resurrection, He proved that He was the very Son of God, the Messiah, the Sent One, the Hero who had come to live the life that we should’ve lived, to die the death that we should’ve died. He came to offer salvation as a free gift to all who would believe. And for those who would believe and trust in Him, He came to atone for our sin, setting us free from sin’s condemnation and power, and giving us new life!
Jesus continues to invite all with this question, “Will you follow me?”
We follow Him by putting our complete faith in Him. We follow Him by confessing Him as our Lord. We follow Him, and by following Him, we are saying, we want to become more and more like Him. We no longer want to follow ourselves, we want to follow Jesus as Lord. We no longer want to trust in ourselves, but we want to trust in Him.
We follow Him, not partially, but fully, holding nothing back. When you look in the Bible at the stories of the disciples who had followed Jesus, who witnessed His death, but then witnessed His resurrection, their lives were never the same. There was no holding back. They were all in, for all their lives. They lived radically devoted to Jesus, because they knew by doing so, they were living radically devoted to the One who sought them out, and demonstrated amazing grace through the cross, and amazing power through the resurrection.
Apart from Jesus, we are not just partially lost. As if we just need one more piece of direction to find our way. Or we were just in need of a helping hand to help carry the load of our sin. As if to say, “Hey Jesus, grab that side, and I’ll get this side, and we’ll tag team this thing called sin and move it out.”
Instead, the Biblical reality is that on our own, we are completely lost and separated from God (Ephesians 2:1-3). It was as if we were sitting in the dark unable to move on our own, waiting for the light to turn on. We were completely unable to carry the load of our sin on our own.
Ephesians 2:4-9: 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
God who is rich in mercy and unlimited in love sought us out and said, I will come as the light of the world. I will come and bear the weight of your sin. I will make a way possible for the wrath of God to be justified and satisfied. I will prove to the world that I am God’s One and Only Son by coming back to life.
Jesus continues to say to us, “Come follow me.”
Will you trust that what He did through His perfect life, His sacrificial death, and His triumphant resurrection…will you trust that it was enough to lead to your salvation, forgiveness, and a new life? Will you stop running from the invitation of Jesus? Will you stop striving in an attempt to earn your salvation through good works? Instead, will you rest in and trust in what has already been done through the person and work of Jesus?