In Matthew 19:16-22 we are introduced to a man of wealth, privilege, prestige and power. This “rich young ruler”, as the text defines him, has come to Jesus to ask Him a question… “What must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus proceeds to instruct him to keep the commandments. The “rich young ruler” questions further with “Which ones?” Jesus reply in simple form was “Don’t murder, or commit adultery, or steal, or lie, or dishonor you parents, or fail to love your neighbor as much as you love yourself”. The young man declares he has performed all these commands since his youth. Interestingly, the young man was not satisfied with leaving it there but asks further “What do I still lack?”
Either he was looking for some further affirmation from Jesus, concerning his good life or he truly did not feel he had met all the requirements. Is it possible He saw in Jesus demeanor that there was something more the Master needed to say? Whatever the case, Jesus did respond….
Matthew 19:21-22 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Why did the “rich young ruler” go away sad? Because Jesus told him to come and follow Him; this meant leave everything behind. He needed to leave behind his wealth, his privilege, his prestige and his power. Jesus was essentially saying, leave who your are behind, to be who I am redeeming you to be. No wonder he left sorrowful, for he had a lot to lose. Yet this is exactly what Jesus commands of anyone who would endeavor to follow Him
Luke 14:33 (NKJV) So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
Radically following Jesus is a tangible fruit in the born again soul, where it is expressing faith in the cross and resurrection of Jesus and demonstrating their faith through repentance (or walking away from their former life and walking toward God as they follow Christ). Not only is following a tangible fruit, but it is a requirement of being a disciple.
Luke 9:23 (NKJV) Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
If we do not follow Christ, we are not His disciples. If we are not His disciples, no matter what belief we profess, we are lost. Although following may not look all that committed at first, and even ebb and flow in our emotional fire at times, it must be present and growing. There is no middle ground. Jesus redeems us to follow Him as our everlasting LEADER.
This does not imply we get to follow Him halfheartedly or as we see fit. Following Him is exactly what the early disciples displayed: to lose their lives for His sake and submit to His will for His glory. (which is arises from our love for Him). There is much for us to discuss about how we are to follow Jesus, but for today I offer a quote for you to consider.
I have been reading a book entitled “A SHEPHERD LOOKS AT THE GOOD SHEPHERD”, by Phillip Keller. This book is part of a series written by the author, the first in the series “A SHEPHERD LOOKS AT THE 23 PSALM” is a Christian classic. My hope is that you will prayerfully consider the extended quote below, allowing the Holy Spirit to answer the question… Do you follow the LEADER?
“The question in all of this is, ‘Do I really want to follow Him? Do I really want to do His will? Do I really want to be led?’
Some of us say we do without really meaning it. More than anything else it is a sentimental wish. It is a half-hearted hope. It is a pleasant idea we indulge in during our better moments. Yet, too often deep down in our wills we still determine to do our own thing and go our own wayward ways.
It is precisely at this point where we come to grief in our walk with God. It is presumption of the worst sort to claim His commitments to us, made so freely and in such generosity, while at the same time refusing to comply with His commands or wishes because of our own inherent selfish desires.
Whatever else happens there remains this one, basic fundamental fact that the person who wants to follow Christ will ever do so. All the rest will become strays.”
A few pages later Keller drops the hammer…
“There are many willful, wayward, indifferent Christians who cannot really be classified as followers of Christ. There are relatively few diligent disciples who forsake all to follow the Master.”
Do you truly follow the Master?