Scriptural Gem for August 2016

In John 8:14 we read: ‘...for I know where I came from and where I am going’ and verse 21: ‘...Where I go you cannot come.’

In John 13:33 we read: ‘My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going you cannot come.’
In Matthew 9:9 we read: ‘As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. “Follow me!” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.’

When we think of the statement “Follow me!” in the verse above, what meaning do we attach to it? Some Christians seem to think that 'following Jesus' means that they become ‘part of his community', making Him an inspiring example of a ‘new way of living.’ It is this erroneous perception that has caused Christianity to be classified as a ‘religion’, in which one follows an example or a variety of instructions in order to be considered ‘Christian’. 

Jesus is not building a fan club of 'followers', nor is the ultimate goal in following Jesus the idea of 'being a follower'. Let us look carefully at what He says in both John 8 and John 13 quoted above. He clearly states that He is on His way to a very specific destination. He knows exactly where He is going.  When we compare John 14:28 and John 16:10, we realize that His destination is the Father. So, when He calls out to Matthew, “Follow me!”, He is not calling him to follow a certain lifestyle, but to follow Him in order that He may ultimately bring Matthew to the Father. Our entire concept of Christianity goes awry if we do not have it clear in our minds that Jesus came to do only one thing and that is to bring us back to the Father and we ‘follow’ Him to that destination. 

The idea that Christianity is ‘being a follower of Jesus’ is dismantled by Jesus himself when Peter exclaims in John 13:37 ‘“...Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you!” Then Jesus answered "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!”’ Jesus is making it very clear to Peter that he cannot completely be a ‘follower of Jesus’ and that he is destined to fail. We, too, need to get rid of the idea that we are able to ‘follow Jesus’ in human zeal and strength. We are no better than Peter.
Jesus then goes on to deal a second blow to Christianity based on human zeal by saying: “Where I am going you cannot come...” So, not only are we unable to follow Jesus as ' fan club followers' here on earth, but He also declares us unable to go where He is going – to the Father. We are disqualified on both fronts, so where do we go from here? Jesus gloriously resolves both issues in John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Here he clearly reveals the destination (the Father), the way there (Jesus himself) and His Life in us which enables us to live as His 'followers'.

Dear friends, the burning question is not: “Are you following Jesus?” but “Has he brought you to the destination, to the Father?” Amen.