Summary: Our lifelong goal is to become more and more like Jesus. Hebrews 12:2 helps us on that journey.
Become a Committed Follower of Jesus
As we “Go for the gold” in our Christian life our goal is Christ-likeness. The Hebrew writer challenges us to keep the goal before us and not forget it. “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.” (Hebrews 12:2 NLT.)
The Apostle Paul agrees with the Hebrew writer when he encourages the Christians in Philippi by giving his testimony: “Not that I have already obtained all this (Christ-likeness) or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I Press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
Our lifelong goal is to become more and more like Jesus. Last week I closed the message with the challenge given by Charles Sheldon in his classic book, “In His Steps.” In everything you say and do ask: “What would Jesus have me to say or do?” (WWJD) We handed out cards as reminders. How did you do last week? Our race in life is a daily commitment. It is a life-long commitment. To keep our eyes focused on Jesus.
James Allen Francis wrote about the life of Jesus in “One Solitary Life.”
He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in still another village where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher. He never had a family or owned a home. He never traveled 200 miles from the place he was born. He never set foot inside a big city. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never went to college. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but himself. While he was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends deserted him. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned put together have not affected the life of man on earth as much as that one solitary life.
Jesus calls you to follow in His steps. He calls you to a life of adventure of faith. Jesus calls people in all walks of life to follow Him. Just as Jesus called his first disciples to follow him he calls us today to follow him.
In many ways the first disciples were a motley group, but they became united, except for one, in carrying out the mission of their Master.
In the first disciples we find many of our own characteristics:
Peter was bold, brash, and impulsive. He acted and then thought later. He was willing to take on the Roman Army and make heads roll.
John was shy and quiet. He was so humble he didn’t mention his name in the Gospel of John he wrote about the life and ministry of Jesus. Yet from John’s life we know that he loved Jesus with all his heart.
Matthew was a tax collector. A man of wealth despised by all. Before Christ, Matthew was out to take advantage of people and gain a world of wealth for himself. His philosophy was the world view that “there is only one person that counts and that person is me.” Yet he became an obedient follower of Jesus.
All the disciples of Jesus except Judas made following Jesus a priority for their lives. The disciples had their daily “to be” list rather than a “to do” list.
To each of the early disciples Jesus gave the invitation: “Come follow me.” Today Jesus makes the same invitation to people of all walks of life and all nations: “Come Follow Me.” In both the Gospels and today we find three levels of responses of people who follow Jesus.
I. The Curious Followed Jesus
Crowds of people followed Jesus out of curiosity and for what they could get from Jesus.
John 6:1-2 “Sometime after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Great crowds followed Jesus because they were looking for a great show. They wanted to see more miraculous signs.