Where you go, I'll go Where you stay, I'll stay When you move, I'll move I will follow you
Who you love, I'll love How you serve I'll serve If this life I lose, I will follow you I will follow you...
So goes the anthem written by Chris Tomlin, proclaiming one of the most basic tenets of Christianity: we are followers of Jesus Christ. But how do we become followers? And what does it look like to follow?
This past Sunday, we heard two stories of Jesus in conflict with religious leaders over what a life of rest should look like (Luke 6:1-11). They with their distorted, wrongly motivated understanding of what was lawful, Jesus with his right understanding of the heart of God behind the law. When all they could see was a written code, Jesus cast his gaze upon hungry disciples and a deformed man, and saw bruised reeds and smoldering wicks in need of mercy. His proclamation was this: "I am Lord of the Sabbath."
But there is more. Jesus calls people to himself, revealing that he is the Sabbath rest our hearts truly long for:
"Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Thus, step one of following is being called. And we are not first called to a thing, or a task, or even a mission. We are called to Jesus himself. That is the crucial first step: we come to Jesus, and he gives us rest. We understand what it means to live in his finished work for us. We find our identity completely and solely in him, and in him, rest for our souls.
Deep, true, satisfying rest.
And then, once the yoke of heavy burdens which bring deep soul weariness have been removed, we are ready for his yoke and his teaching.
That is why Luke has been so intentional and careful with the way he has shared the story of Jesus with us (Luke 1:3). He wants us to see and understand these truths first: Jesus revealing truths as he interacts with those who oppose him, even as the crowds and potential disciples are watching, listening, and soaking it all in.
For at this moment, Jesus will go up on the mountain and will take an entire night with the Father in preparation for the raising up of the church:
In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles..(Luke 6:12-13)
This part of the story of Jesus and his ministry points forward to what we will see as his overall plan. For, Jesus is accomplishing the work of the Father on a global and cosmic level. But he is also never doing less than this: the calling, choosing, naming, and training of disciples to know who he is, and then send them on mission. He is calling them to himself to bring about his global mission.
Don't miss this, for the order is important. Jesus defines who they are - gives them a name and an identity (Luke 6:12-16) - and then trains them on how now they should live (Luke 6:17-49).
This text is another clear encouragement for the purpose of my life: to make more and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ. While this part of the story is a mere five verses, it is filled with application for what this looks like individually, and as a church family, with Jesus as our foundation. Because, as Chris Tomlin sings, he is:
Light unto the world Light unto my life I will live for you alone You're the one I seek Knowing I will find All I need in you alone, in you alone
In you there's life everlasting In you there's freedom for my soul In you there's joy, unending joy And I will follow...
I can't wait to discuss it with you more - See you Sunday!
(P.S. Maybe you've guessed by now, we'll be responding to the sermon on Sunday with I Will Follow.)