The Call to Follow Absent the Details

Today’s selected reading is found in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle John. More specifically today’s passage begins with the first verse of the first chapter and continues through to the twenty-seventh verse of the second chapter. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard and we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:1-4).

 

            “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and His word is not in us” 1 John 1:5-10).

 

            “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).

 

            “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, I know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:3-11).

 

            “I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one” (1 John 2:12-14).

 

 

            “Do not love the world, or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

 

            “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come by which we know that it is the last hour. They went from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is the antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:18-23).

 

            “Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life. These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in him” (1 John 2:24-27).

 

            When you come to the first epistle written by the apostle John you will find an epistle that is closely linked and tied to the gospel which was written concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. In all reality I would dare say the first epistle written by the apostle John is to be viewed and treated as a companion to the gospel which he wrote concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s almost as if the historical account concerning the life and ministry of Jesus which the apostle John was in fact followed up with an epistle that provided practical instruction on how to live in response to the truth concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. This epistle written by the apostle John is indeed written unto his audience based on the personal eyewitness account he had having walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ for over three years. Within the four New Testament gospels you will find that John together with his brother James were personally called by the Lord Jesus Christ at the Sea of Galilee to walk with and follow Him. While James and John were there at the Sea of Galilee mending their nets together with their father Jesus would come having been sent by His Father and would call them to walk with and follow Him. This is something we dare not and must not miss for it calls and draws our attention to how the apostle John begins and opens this epistle. I am absolutely convinced that when we read the opening verses of this first epistle written by the apostle John we are indeed and are in fact brought face to face with the tremendous and incredible truth surrounding the personal experience, encounter and eyewitness reality this apostle had having been personally called and chosen to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            In order to truly understand this first epistle which was written by the apostle John I am convinced we must needs recognize and understand the words which we find in the four gospels and how the apostle John together with his brother James were called by the Lord Jesus Christ to forsake everything to walk with and follow Him. What’s more is that even within the gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find Jesus asking the twelve disciples if they too would turn back and walk no more with Him when many of His disciples did so. Although it was the apostle Peter who would speak up asking where they would go, declaring that He alone had the words of eternal life and would then profess once more that He is the Christ and the Son of the living God the apostle John would choose to remain walking with and following Jesus. In fact throughout the gospel account he wrote he would refer to himself as the apostle whom Jesus loved. Within this gospel we find the account of the apostle John even laying his head upon the bosom of Christ at the table at the Last Supper in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it brings us face to face with this personal account of this apostle of Christ who would indeed walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            With all of this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in each of the four New Testament gospels concerning the calling of the apostle John together with his brother James. If we are to truly understand this first epistle written by the apostle John there is a great need to understand that this was one who was personally called and chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ to walk with and follow Him. For the next three and a half years this apostle together with his brother James and ten other men would faithfully walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ as He would go about healing the sick and doing good to all those who were in Judaea and Galilee. There is a great need for us to pay close attention to the following words which are found within the four gospels for the words contained in these accounts help us to understand further that which the apostle John would write in this epistle which I am convinced is written to provide men and women for a response and practical instruction to the truth concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as He walked upon the earth as the word which was made flesh and dwelt among them. Having said this I find it absolutely necessary to first and foremost call your attention to the words which are found in the first chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John concerning the coming of the Messiah and Christ into the earth as well as the words which are found in the third chapter of this same gospel. If you want to truly get a sense of what it was like for this apostle to indeed walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ you must needs consider these two passages of Scripture first and foremost before delving into the words which were written concerning the apostle John and his walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider if you will the following words which are found in these passages of Scripture beginning with the first and third chapters of the gospel written by the apostle himself:

 

            “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through Him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own and his own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me. And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:1-18).

 

            “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, After me comes a man who is preferred before me, for He was before me. I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water. And John bore witness, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He reminded upon Him. I did not know Him, but hHe who sent me to baptize with water said to me, Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptized with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).

 

            “Again the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, Behold the Lamb of God! The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, What do you seek? They said to Him, Rabbi (which is to say, when translated Teacher), where are you staying? He said to them, Come and see. They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour). One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, We have found the Messiah (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas (which is translated, A stone)” (John 1:35-42).

 

            “The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, Follow me. Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said to him, Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Philip said to him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, and said of him, Behold an Israelite indeed in whom there is no deceit. Nathanael said to Him, How do you know me? Jesus answered and said to him, Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. Nathanael answered and said to Him, Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the king of Israel! Jesus answered and said to him, Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these. And he said to him, Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (John 1:43-51).

 

            “After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judaea, and there He remained with them and baptized. Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. For John had not yet been thrown into prison. Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. And they came to John and said to him, Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him! John answered and said, A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but, I have been sent before Him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:22-36).

 

            It is absolutely necessary we recognize and pay attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the coming of the Messiah and Christ into the earth. Jesus Himself was the Word which was in the beginning, which was in the beginning with God and was indeed and was in fact God. This Word became felts and dwelt among us and John the Baptist bore witness and testified concerning Him. Within the four gospels we find the incredible and powerful witness of John the Baptist concerning Jesus of Nazareth for John the Baptist emphatically declared and proclaimed that Jesus was indeed the Son of the living God. John the Baptist recognized that there was one coming after him who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire and would bear witness and speak of this one to come. In fact I would dare say that if we are going to truly understand the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle John walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ we must needs understand just who it was who called he and his brother to follow Him and who the apostle John spent more than three years walking with and following. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of the four gospel accounts concerning this incredible and tremendous witness of John the Baptist concerning Jesus of Nazareth who was indeed the Christ and the Messiah who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire:

 

            “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father. For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing flood, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:7012).

 

            “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets: Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you. The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; Make his paths straight. John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judaea and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camels hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, There comes one after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but he will baptiZE you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:1-8).

 

            “…the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the LORD; Make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, Brood of vipers! Who armed you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say yo yourself, We have Abraham as our father. For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the tres. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answered and said to them, He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise. Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said, Teacher, what shall we do? And he said to them, Collect no more than what is appointed for you. Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, And what shall we do? So He said to them, Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages. Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not. John answered, saying to all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptiZE you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand, and he will throughly clean out his trenching floor, and gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Luke 3:1-17).

 

            “Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you? He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Are you Elijah? He said, I am not. Are you the Prophet? And he answered, No. Then they said to him, Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us/ What do you say about yourself/ He said: I am The voice of one crying in the wilderness: make straight the way of the LORD, as the prophet Isaiah said. Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. And they asked him, saying, Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet? John answered them, saying, I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing”  (John 1:19-28).

 

            These different accounts are absolutely incredible when you take the time to think about them for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the witness of John the Baptist during those days and how he testified concerning One who was coming after him. John the Baptist testified that he baptized with water unto repentance for the remission of sins, however, there was one coming after him who was mightier than he who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. This is something we absolutely must needs pay close attention to when thinking about and considering the call of Jesus to the apostle John and his brother James to walk with and follow Him for He was more than simply a prophet, a good man and a teacher. Jesus the Christ found the apostle John together with his brother James at the Sea of Galilee with their father Zebedee and called them to come after, walk with and follow Him. Immediately James and John left their nets, left the ship and their father and came after, walked with and followed after the Lord Jesus Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of these truths for they bring us face to face with the Man whom the apostle John together with his brother and the other ten disciples walked with and followed after for three and a half years. These disciples abandoned and forsook everything they knew and everything they had that they might indeed walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ not knowing what they would entail. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about it is when Jesus called the disciples to walk with and follow Him He did not reveal unto them what the next three and a half years were going to be like. When Jesus called these disciples to walk with and follow Him He didn’t even reveal what those days were going to be like after He was raised from death to life and ascended unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the call of Jesus to the apostle John, his brother and the other ten disciples and there is absolutely no mention to them of what walking with and following Him was going to be like. In fact it wouldn’t be until after they had made the decision to walk with and follow Him that He would deliver the Sermon on the Mount and would begin speaking of being persecuted, reviled, mistreated, and the like. What’s more is that it wouldn’t be until sending them out as ambassadors he would speak unto them of being scourged in the synagogues, of being brought before kings and governors, of being persecuted and even killed, and of being hated of all men for His name’s sake. What’s more is that it wouldn’t be until they were in Caesarea Philippi Jesus would emphatically declare unto them that anyone who did not deny themselves and take up their cross was not worthy of Him. In His Olivet Discourse Jesus would speak of the last days and once more of their being hated of all men for His name’s sake. These are truths we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful reality of Jesus’ calling these men to walk with and follow Him. It is indeed true Jesus called them to walk with and follow Him, however, Jesus didn’t reveal unto them what walking with and following Him would entail and what it would be like.

 

            Pause for a moment and think about the call of Jesus unto these disciples to walk with and follow Him and think about how despite His call to walk with, come after and follow Him He offered them no promise or reward of doing so. If there is one thing that is truly amazing when you take the time to think about this is that when Jesus called these men to come after and follow Him He offered them no promise, nor any type of reward for doing so. Much like the call of Abraham when he was called to leave Ur of the Chaldeans and to leave his country, his father’s house and everything he knew so also were the disciples called to leave, abandon and forsake everything they knew and everything they had. James and John left their father while the apostle Peter left his wife—or at least spent considerable amount of time away and apart from her. We know that Jesus would indeed enter into Simon Peter’s house and heal his mother in law, so there is a slight suggesting the apostle Peter didn’t entirely leave his wife nor his mother in law during those days. Each of the twelve disciples and apostles were called by the Lord Jesus to come after and follow Him, however, none of them were given any promise of what doing so would have been like. What’s more is that it wasn’t until the apostle Peter spoke up after the encounter with the rich young ruler and declared unto Jesus that they had abandoned and forsaken everything to follow Him. It would be in response to his words the Lord Jesus would indeed and would speak to Simon Peter and the other disciples and give them a tremendous revelation concerning those who abandoned and forsook everything to walk with and follow Him. Oh consider if you will the following words which are found in the gospels written by the apostle Matthew, Mark and Luke concerning this exchange between Jesus, Simon Peter and the other disciples:

 

            “Then Peter answered and said to Him, See, we have left all and followed you. Therefore what shall we have? So Jesus said to them, Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Matthew 19:27-30).

 

            “Then Peter began to say to Him, See, we have left all and followed you. So Jesus answered and said, Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for my sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Mark 10:28-31).

 

            “Then Peter said, See we have left all and followed you. So He said to them, Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life” (Luke 18:28-30).

 

            The words we find within these passages of Scripture call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the promise and reward for coming after, walking with and following Jesus. What makes it so incredibly interesting is that it wouldn’t come until later on during their time spent walking with and following the Lord Jesus. When Jesus called the disciples to come after and follow Him He offered them no promise or reward for doing so and simply called them to follow Him. What’s so incredibly unique and interesting about the words and language found within the four gospels is that when Jesus called these men to follow Him He didn’t reveal anything concerning what doing so would have been like. The only real promise given to anyone when being called to follow Jesus was when he declared unto Simon and his brother Andrew that He would make them fishers of men. Aside from this there was no promise nor any reward given for making the decision to forsake everything to come after and follow Him. The only thing the disciples knew was that Jesus of Nazareth had called them to walk with and follow Him. This is something which warrants a considerable amount of attention on our parts for how many men and women walk with and follow the Lord Jesus for the promise of what he can offer and give unto them? How many men and women are in fact “walking with” and “following” the Lord Jesus and yet they are only doing so because of what they can somehow get from Him for doing so? Oh I am convinced there are countless men and women among us in this generation within many of our churches who solely walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ because of what they can somehow get from Him.

 

            What I so love about the accounts of the call of Jesus to the disciples to come after and follow Him is that not only did He not give or offer them any promise or reward for doing so but He also did not reveal unto them what doing so would have been like. If you read the four gospel accounts you will find that there was no promise or reward for coming after, walking with and following the Lord Jesus. Jesus simply called the apostles James and John, the apostles Peter and James, the apostle Matthew and the others to follow Him and they left everything to do so. This is truly astonishing when you take the time to think about it for when you read the four gospel narratives you will find that nowhere in any of them—when Jesus called the disciples to follow Him—did he give them a preview of what would be required and what would be asked of them to do so. Within the four gospel narratives you will find that any glimpse or insight into what it would mean to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus wouldn’t come until AFTER they had made the decision to walk with and follow Him. Not only this but I am sure there were ample opportunities to turn back and walk no more with Him and there were those in Capernaum in Galilee who would turn back and walk no more with the Lord Jesus. There were many disciples of Jesus who turned back and walked no more with Him and yet the disciples deliberately and intentionally chose to remain walking with and follow Him. The disciples would not turn back and walk no more with others—despite the fact there were others who would do so there in Capernaum AFTER witnessing and beholding the miracles He had performed and AFTER they had partaken of the loaves of bread and of the fish. How absolutely incredible it is that these men made the decision to walk with and follow Jesus without knowing what doing so would have entailed. There was absolutely no indication of what life would be like walking with and following Jesus and there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if there weren’t times when they were shocked and surprised at some of the things that happened during those three and a half years walking with and following Him.

 

            I am convinced we must needs consider the words which are found within the Synoptic gospels for within them we are brought face to face with Jesus’ words concerning what walking with and following Him would indeed be like. If you take the time to read the gospel accounts written by the apostle Matthew, by John Mark and by Luke you can and will find powerful words and language concerning what walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed be like. Beginning with the Sermon on the Mount and continuing all the way through to the Olivet Discourse you will find various different passages which help us understand what walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ truly does mean. Even the narrative of the rich young ruler provides us with a glimpse of what it means to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus. Not only this but the account of those who asked to come after and follow Jesus but first needed to settle their affairs were told by Jesus that foxes have their holes and the swallows of the air have nests but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head. What’s more is when one told Jesus they would follow Him and then asked to bury his father Jesus would emphatically declare unto them to let the dead bury their dead. Each of these passages of Scripture must needs be carefully considered for they call and draw our attention to what it truly means to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus. None of the apostles—when being called to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus—were given any promise or reward for doing so nor were they given any revelation of what doing so would have been like. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in each of the Synoptic gospels concerning what walking with and following the Lord Jesus would have been like:

 

            “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).

 

            “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:38-48).

 

            “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worthy about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Therefore whoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter in law against her mother in law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy o fame. And he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:16-39).

 

            “Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever d desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26).

 

            “And Jesus answered and said to them: Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by small nations for my name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:4-14).

 

            “When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, Whoever 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 and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:34-38).

 

            “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. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him the Son of man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:23-27).

 

            “Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, He cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty-thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Luke 14:25-35).

 

            “Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? So Jesus said to him, Why do you call me good? No one is good but one, that is, God. You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother. And he answered and said to Him, Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth. Then Jesus looking at him, loved him, and said to him, One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow me. But he was sat at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Mark 10:17-22).

 

            Please pay close attention to the words which we find in these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the reality that although Jesus called the brothers James and John, the brothers Andrew and Simon, the tax collector Matthew and seven others to walk with and follow Him He didn’t reveal unto them the whole picture of what it would look like to come after and follow Him. Jesus did not reveal what their time walking with and following Him would be like nor did He even immediately reveal unto them that He would suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, scribes and elders of the people before being delivered into the hands of sinners to scourge and be put to death. Jesus didn’t give them the whole and complete picture when calling them to come after and follow Him and merely called them to follow Him. What I so love about this is that His call to come after and follow Him was enough for these men to abandon and forsake everything to do just that. Jesus called these men to come after, walk with and follow Him and that was enough for them to leave everything they had known and come after him The question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we ourselves have truly done the same thing. Oh we might have made the decision to call ourselves Christians and “invite Jesus into our hearts,” however the question that must be asked is whether or not we have indeed been those who have abandoned and forsaken everything simply because Jesus called us to walk with and follow Him. Have we indeed been those who have abandoned and forsaken everything in this life that we might walk with and follow Jesus with reckless abandon that we might rule be His disciples? Have we given up everything in this life and abandoning and forsaking it all that we might truly walk with and follow Him?

 

            When you come to the first epistle written by the apostle John you will find him beginning and opening this epistle by speaking of his credibility as a personal eyewitness of those things which he spoke of. The apostle John wasn’t writing this epistle based on second hand knowledge nor based on the words which were spoken by others. As the apostle John set out to write this epistle he did in fact write it based on having spent three and a half years walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle John heard the call of Jesus to follow Him and he and his brother James would abandon everything that they might walk with and follow Him. The words which we find in this epistle call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the practical exhortation, instruction and knowledge the apostle could give them. Based on his walking with and following the Lord Jesus the apostle John would indeed and would in fact write unto them providing practical instruction and basic information before leaving this world on what it means to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh how absolutely incredible it is to read the words found in this epistle and come face to face with the wonderful truth surrounding the apostle’s instruction and exhortation to his readers and audience based on personal experience having walked with and followed the Lord Jesus. The apostle John would indeed walk with and follow the Lord Jesus and would spend three and a half years hearing and listening to Him speak. It would be those words which He heard spoken from the mouth of the Lord that would indeed cause the apostle John to write this epistle calling his readers and audience to walk in obedience and righteousness in the sight and presence of the living God. Consider how the apostle John opened this epistle beginning with the first verse of the first chapter:

            “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:1-4).

 

            If you continue reading the words which are found in this epistle you will find two of the main and underlying truths he sought to convey unto his readers. In the third verse you will find the apostle John writing of their having fellowship with them—those who believed and those who were of like precious faith—but also speaking of having fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. In the final verses of the first chapter you will find the apostle John building upon this concept of having fellowship together with each other for he would declare that if we say we have fellowship with the Father and yet walk in darkness we do not practice the truth. In addition to this the apostle John would go on to declare that if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this for when the apostle John was called to come after and follow Jesus—not only was he called to walk with and follow Him but he was also called to walk with and fellowship together with the other eleven disciples which would include his own brother. Not only this but the decision to come after and walk with the Lord Jesus would mean he and the other disciples would walk together in fellowship together with those who would come after and walk with Him. The decision to come after and follow the Lord Jesus wasn’t merely a decision to walk with and follow Him alone in a vacuum but walking together in fellowship with the other eleven disciples and all those who would come after and walk with Him. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding the call to come after and follow Jesus and how such a call demands and requires us to walk with and have fellowship together with others.

 

            One of the greatest joys and privileges we have is to love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength, however, the second privilege is likened unto it—namely that we can love others as we love ourselves. With this being said I am convinced that there is no greater joy nor delight than having fellowship together with the Father and with the Son and yet directly linked and connected to fellowship together with them is fellowship with the saints and those who are of like precious faith. With this being said there is a great need for us as the saints of God to ask ourselves whether or not we are truly and indeed having and walking in fellowship with the saints of the living God. Oh it might be true that we are walking in fellowship together with the living and eternal God, however, the question we have to ask ourselves is whether or not we are indeed such who are walking in fellowship together with others. One of the greatest joys of walking with and following Jesus it not merely walking with and following Him but also walking with and fellowshipping together with others. What’s more is that within this epistle you will find that fellowship demands obedience, fellowship demands righteousness, fellowship demands holiness and fellowship demands purity. In the final verses of the first chapter the apostle John speaks of those who say that have no sin and how they deceive themselves and the truth is not in them. Conversely, however, the apostle John goes on to declare that if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us and our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Moreover the apostle John goes on to declare that if we say that we have not sinned we make Him [God] a liar, and His word is not us. WE as the saints of God must needs acknowledge the fact that we have indeed and have in fact been called to be those who truly do walk with and follow the Lord Jesus and in the process of walking with and following Him we also walk with and fellowship one with another.

            As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words presented in the second chapter of this epistle. As you read the words within this chapter you will find the apostle John declaring that we have confidence and knowledge that we know the living God if we keep His commandments. That one who says they know Him and does not keep His commandments is a lair and the truth is not in them. Whoever, however, keeps His word—that individual has the love of God perfected in them. We know that we are in Christ when we keep His word and the love of God is being perfected in us. With all of this being said we have indeed and have in fact been given a command to love one another even as we ourselves have been loved by the Father and by the Son. The apostle John goes on to write that those who say they are in the light and yet hate their brother is in darkness. Those, however, who love their brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in them. That one who hates their brother is in darkness and walked in darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it is for it brings us face to face with the wonderful and powerful truth surrounding our call to not only love God but to also love people. Those who love God will indeed and will in fact love people, will love their neighbor as themselves and will even love their enemies and those who spitefully entreat and persecute them. This is something which warrants strong consideration on our part for it calls our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding our need to be those who do in fact love God and love people. Oh that we would recognize that the single greatest commandment we have been given is to love the LORD our God and to love our neighbor as ourselves for this the life we have indeed been called to in this life and in this generation. Even though we might indeed and might in fact be hated of all nations and all men for the sake of His name and His person we have indeed and have in fact been called to love without limits, without hesitation, without restrictions and without borders and boundaries.

 

            In addition to this we must needs acknowledge the fact that in loving God and in loving our brother we must needs acknowledge the fact that we are not abstain and refrain from loving the world. The apostle John writes in this epistle and calls on his readers and audience to not love the world nor the things in the world. Moreover the apostle John goes on to write and state that anyone who loves the world does not have the love of the Father in them. The apostle John goes on to declare that all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life—are not of the Father but are of the world. This is something we must needs recognize and understand when thinking about the generation in which we are living for it calls and draws our focus to whether or not we are those who are living as pilgrims and strangers in this world in whom the world and everything in it has nothing in us nor anything on us. Oh how absolutely wonderful it is to be such individuals in this life in whom the world has absolutely no claim or hold on us. There is a great need for us as the saints of God to indeed be those who live as strangers and pilgrims and who keep ourselves completely and utterly free from the things of this world. You will recall the one who is represented by the seed which is sown among the thorns and how they are those who hear the word and receive it with joy and yet the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the life out of the Word. Oh that we would indeed recognize that we have been called to be like Moses who refused to be called Pharaoh’s daughter and chose to suffer reproach with the children of Israel rather than enjoy the pleasures of Egypt. Oh that we would be those who completely and utterly detach ourselves from the things of this world that they might not have any hold on us nor any hook in our hearts. Oh that we would be men and women who understand that this world must needs have nothing in us nor anything on us as we choose to hide ourselves under the shadow of the Almighty and keep ourselves in spotted from the world as James wrote:

 

 

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:21-27).

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