Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
A thought or three and some questions have come to mind for me after a messaging conversation I had with a mentor of mine concerning discipleship. I will do my utmost to keep this as simple as possible, mostly because I have a tendacy to make something simple, complicated, or more convoluted than neccessary.
"Follow Me", is a phrase Jesus uses to herald our hearts and minds to become His disciples.
Our initial step to follow was a quick jumpstart beginning - for some of us. For others - accepting the call was a carefully reasoned step.We all made a choice to take a step from our usual and accept the call of Jesus to follow Him.
We are summoned by Him with two words, number one, follow.
My western formed thought process tells me this means we are not to lead, or walk abreast, but, simply to stay behind, take up the rear. Instead, this term used goes beyond that and takes us to a point of fellowship. Jesus was understood by His immediate audience to be making a call to discipleship and not just to go with Him from one place to another for the sake of being a company of numbers. A relationship is more akin to this word than a simple call to "walk this way" (no Aerosmith pun intended or Eye-gor from Young Frankenstein).
These men knew very well what this rabbi was considering before they accepted His call. They knew what was at stake for them if they accepted His invitation. The need to stop all that was in their lives, namely their livelihood and we find out their current religious understanding as well.
The talmidim of that time made a commitment to the rabbi, to give up their lives to become like the rabbi. A relationship like this was usually presented to a young man after careful scrutiny of that young man by the rabbi. These men Jesus called, were most likely not talmidim when they were younger and found a rabbi who wanted them to become one, later in their life.
The second word Jesus uses is, me.
Since the call from Jesus seems to be a discipling relationship, He presents the one called with whom they are to follow. It is certain from the Gospel accounts all of these men had one in some way or another taken notice of this rabbi. Whether it was from direct contact or second hand accounts, the person called knew who Jesus was, what He was teaching, the things He did and was doing.
Were His actions and teachings different then what was prevelant of the religious then? Yes. It is these things that made one take notice of Him. His actions and His words.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus regularly challenged the religious leaders and their conduct, and tells all listening to do as they say (words), and not as they do (actions). Maybe we should take notice both of these terms are to be mutually exclusive "with" each other.
Jesus tells these leaders their "traditions nullify the power of God". They are called "whitewashed tombs full of dead men's bodies". Their cups are filthy on the inside and the outside is purposely cleaned. This seems to be regular qualifier for Jesus, pointing out the actions and words that are not working side by side in these leaders. Taking this into account, as we read into the Gospels we notice, these disciples "who turned the world upside down" were/are a part of something that was not of the normal religious process.
With all these things in mind, Jesus' call to follow Him is sure to take one from the comfortable to most un-comfortable. To be a part of a community that goes against all that was/is well known, allowed for some, for others, something followed.
The call is and needs to be understood before accepted. It truly is not something to be hastened too.
Once the call is accepted, following becomes, will become, shall become, should become, normal, while the rest of the world is noticed as upside down.
Jesus tells us to take our eyes off all that has been a part of our make-up to that point and begin to focus on Him, alone. Jesus wants to be "the example".
The call is the invitation, and after acceptance the call is the answer to the question "now what?".