Have you ever heard a sermon that you knew was true but was radically challenging to the point of making you feel uncomfortable?
Gary’s thesis was following the example of Jesus is more challenging than we usually think of it. Too often we “cherry pick” the scriptures that we like. Isolate the aspects of Jesus that appeal to us. And thus to fail to really see the total picture who Jesus is. And how He serves as our example.
Peter reminds us that Christ left us an example that “we should follow in His steps.” This is not optional. It is our calling, if we are to be a disciple of Jesus (1 Pet 2:20-22).
Jesus’ example, however, is not always convenient. It may be more costly than we sometimes like. In fact, He expressed disicipleship this way. “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt 16:24).
As we encounter life’s decisions, the question “What would Jesus do?” is a good one to ask. (Remember when wearing bracelets with WWJD was popular?) Yet, as Gary suggested that’s not always easy to determine.
To know what Jesus would do in a certain situation requires knowledge, discernment and wisdom (Heb. 5:13-15; Eph. 5:17). It means that we must come to know the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5). It demands that we must invest time in reading the biographies of Jesus, as well as the Messianic prophets and Psalms.
So, you want to follow Jesus? Here are some of the thought-provoking questions Gary asked.
When is the last time you…..
- Performed a truly menial act of service for another person? (Jn 13:1-17)
- Said in public that your family was not your #1 priority? (Lk 8:19-21)
- Skipped a meal to talk to an unbeliever about their soul? (Jn 4:1-24)
- Rebuked a close, best friend? (Matt 16:21-23)
- Considered that a life of poverty might be more advantageous to serving Jesus? (Lk 8:1-3)
- Said anything for God that put your life at risk? (Lk 4:28)
- Stayed up all night to pray? (Lk 6:12)
- Were so busy doing God’s work that you needed to get some rest? (Mk 6:30-32)
- Fasted for religious purposes? (Matt 6:16-17)
- Considered your sleeping and housing accommodations unimportant? (Matt 8:20)
- Spent time socially with people that caused religious people to question your character? (Lk 15:1-2)
- Did anything for God that caused your family to question your mental stability? (Mk 3:20-21)
- Made a commitment that caused you to suffer damage or loss? (1 Pet 2:20-22)
- Did anything for God that required a costly sacrifice? (Jn 10:15)
- Said anything for the Lord that caused you to be publicly reproached? (Mt 10:24-25)
- Ate meals with sinners so often you were called a glutton and a drunkard? (Matt 11:19)
- Seriously considered, if you are single, remaining unmarried to better serve the Lord?
These probing questions are not meant to be a litmus test. But they should penetrate our hearts and cause us to think about our level of commitment to follow Jesus’ example.
Jesus, however, did not just come to be our example, as Gary reminded us. He came to be our Savior (Lk 2:11). So, before I can really follow Him, I must accept Him as my savior and obey His Gospel (Matt 28:18-20).
In the words of the song writer Eliza E. Hewitt, “Who will Follow Jesus?”
Who will follow Jesus,
Standing for the right,
Holding up His banner
In the thickest fight?
Listening for His orders,
Ready to obey,
Who will follow Jesus,
Serving Him today?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman