Monday, February 11, 2013

Necessary Ingredients for Following Jesus

John 1:35-37  "Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, 36and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus."

Meet a Christian who followed Jesus for at least 75 years
The man named "John" in the passage above was John the Baptist, the forerunner who preached and prepared Israel for the first coming of Jesus the Messiah.  The two disciples or followers of John the Baptist were Andrew and another man named John.  That John who from this point forward we will refer to as the "Apostle John", is the author of the Gospel of John from whence the above passage is taken.  Why are we interested in the Apostle John? because his faith-life is unique in the New Testament in that he is the longest recorded follower of Jesus.  From his own testimony here in John 1:35-37 till we come to his final book, the "Revelation of Jesus Christ" represents roughly 75 years of time (assuming John was 20 or so at his conversion).  75 years is a remarkably long period of time for anyone to be following Jesus.  What is even more remarkable is how you can see John's faithwalk from beginning to end. 

Today I want us to consider the Apostle John's faithwalk as recorded in various poritions of the New Testament as outlining for us what it really takes to follow Jesus Christ over the long haul.  As you study his life, you discover the following four ingredients necessary for following Jesus Christ:

1. Convinced by Faith to follow Jesus Christ
The way you begin the Christian walk is by grace through faith believing on Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord to follow Him in discipleship.  It is rare that on the first hearing of the Gospel that anyone will actually excercise true saving faith.  The Apostle John was no exception.  When we compare Jesus' encounter with him, Andrew and Peter in John 1:35-39, the apostle John is right beside his then mentor, John the Baptist.  Upon hearing John the Baptist proclaim "behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29), the Apostle John follows Jesus, but merely out of curiosity.  He was emotionally and intellectually stimulated.  He heard his mentor's words with his physical ear, but evidently the Spirit of God had not yet dealt with the ears of his heart. (Ephesians 1:16-18) 

In Matthew 4:18-22 we see Jesus on the Sea of Galilee calling out to Peter, John and James.  That episode is the second time Jesus calls them.  It had been months since the first encounter recorded in John 1:35-39. In this second "call" of Jesus, Peter, James and John all "leave their nets" and follow Jesus permenantly.  What was the difference?  Evidently the Spirit of God had been working in John's heart since that first encounter, and in this second instance, John was convinced by grace.  He "heard" with the inward ears of the heart and was not merely curious, but convinced to followed Jesus. (John 1:12-13) 

2. Closely Follow Jesus
As John began his faith walk in his early twenties, Mark's Gospel gives us snapshots of this disciple whom Jesus loved.  In Mark 3:17 we see John listed as one of three "inner disciples" among the twelve, as evidenced by his name among the top three first listed.  As John grows in his faith, Jesus lets him be one of the only three disciples he allowed to enter into the room where Jesus would raise jairus' daughter from the dead. (Mark 5:37) Other texts in Mark (9:2, 13:3,4, 14:43) all show John as being in close proximity to Jesus.  John early on evidenced a faith that hung on Jesus' every word.  Dear friend, this is the kind of faithwalk we ought to have as Christians.  Notice a third necessary ingredient of following Jesus...

3. Constantly pursuing to please Jesus
When we speak of wanting to "please Jesus", were not talking about making Him like us or love us more.  Rather we're referring to our thoughts and actions bringing him pleasure.  Every Christian will at points have the right heart but the execution of those motives won't always come out right.  In Luke 9:51-54 we see Jesus and the disciples ministering in Samaria.  Apparently some of the people rejected Jesus, prompting a then young Apostle John to request permission to call down fire from heaven.  The Apostle John loved his master.  He saw everything in black and white, however his wording, his timing and his actions evidenced a faith still in process and maturity.  This ingredient became seasoned throughout the course of John's long life, as evidenced in numerous New Testament examples. (Acts 1:13-14; 3:1; 4:3; 8:14; 12:1-2; Galatians 2:9)  You and I should be a people who pursue to please Jesus. But notice a final necessary ingredient of following Jesus....

4. Consumed with Scripture
As we come to see John in his mid-nineties, we see the Holy Ghost inspiring five writings to be produced by the Apostle John: The Gospel of John, 1,2,3 John and Revelation.  John's long walk with Jesus produced in him a consuming desire for the Word of God.  Whenever you read the key verses to two of his writings, John 20:31 and 1 John 5:13, you find a man who wants his readers to know Jesus Christ through the scriptures.  In the Book of Revelation we find John alluding to over 200 Old Testament verses! John was obsessed with scripture.  We as a people of God need to be a people of the book if we are to ever be effective people for Jesus Christ!

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