What Does It Look Like to Follow Jesus?

Thorns

Matthew 9:1-17 answers the question: Why did Jesus come? As you walk through the narrative, you discover Jesus came to:

Call sinners to Himself, forgive their sin, transform them, and institute a new system centered on Himself.

If Jesus calls us to Himself, forgives our sins, transforms us, and institutes a new system, and if He, as God, has the authority to do this, we must follow Him.

The Problem

Living in the Bible Belt, many claim to be followers of Jesus, but it seems they don’t quite understand what it means to follow Him.

Matthew helps to correct the problem. In the same narrative, we get a picture of what it looks like to follow Jesus. Below are five snap shots of what it looks like to follow Jesus.

Those Who Follow Jesus

(1) Live in obedience to Him

Followers of Jesus recognize His authority points to Him being God.

God has the right to demand our obedience because He is our Creator.

So those who follow Him live in obedience to Him. They submit to His will for their lives, allowing Him to call the shots.

(2) Leave their old life behind

Matthew was a Tax Collector, but after he came to Jesus, he was no longer a Tax Collector. Just as Matthew left his old life behind, we must leave our old life behind. We must make a break with the past.

Leaving our old life behind is possible because when we come to Jesus, we are transformed and freed from the bondage of sin, which frees us to live for God.

When we come to Jesus, our lives should look different than before. Our desires should be different. The things that we want to do and like to do should change. Our actions should be different. Our attitude should be different. How we view God should be different. How we view others should be different. Instead of viewing others as a means to an end, like Matthew did before Christ got a hold of him, we should now love and have a desire to serve them.

All this points to the fact that those who have been transformed by Jesus become a new creation.

Since followers of Jesus are a new creation, if our desires, actions, attitudes, how we view others, and how we view God have not changed, we need to reevaluate whether we are following Jesus or not, because Jesus transforms sinners.

(3) Don’t just perform external religious actions

The Pharisees were masters at performing. God, however, doesn’t want our sacrifices. He doesn’t want our religious show. Instead, He wants our heart. He wants us to be sold out for Him.

If we are going to follow Jesus, we can’t just perform, our heart has to be given fully to Him.

How do we know when that happens?

We know our heart is given to God when we, in mercy and love, reach out to those around us.

(4) Have a burden for the lost and broken

Jesus did. His burden led Him to take on the flesh of man. To call sinners to Himself. To eat with Tax Collectors and Sinners. Those who are true followers of Christ, will also have a heart and a burden for the lost and the broken.

True followers of Jesus desire for others to be saved.

They desire for others to experience the same joy they do. Their hearts are burdened for the lost around them. Their burden results in them reaching out getting to know the lost and speak the gospel into their lives. Jesus did, and so do those who follow Him.

(5) Look forward to His return

The Bridge Groom was taken and nailed to the cross for the sins of mankind. Even though He was put to death. He rose on the third day, defeating death. 40 days later, He ascended into Heaven where He sits on His throne. One day, He is going to return. When He does, He will usher in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

Followers of Jesus long for and eagerly anticipate His return.

They can’t wait until He brings the New Heavens andNew Earth. They desire to sit under His reign and rule. To live for all eternity with Him as their King.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you live in obedience to Him?
  2. Have you left your old life behind?
  3. Have you given Jesus your heart or are you still performing?
  4. Do you have a burden for the lost?
  5. Do you long for Jesus’ second coming?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon Why did Jesus come?

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