What does it mean to follow Jesus?
For starters, following Jesus is more than just believing in Jesus. While Jesus does expect us to believe in him, he also wants us to believe in him enough to do what he says. By the way, the Gospels have a lot more to say about the teachings of Jesus than it does about simply believing in him.
There is more to following Jesus than just belief.
LEAVING IT ALL BEHIND
If we take the examples of the first disciples of Jesus, to follow Jesus literally meant to leave everything and follow him.
Matthew 8:18-22 NRSV
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
We must remember that Jesus had three years to shape his disciples so that they would continue the mission he had been given. This meant he had to demonstrate to them that he was who he said he was, convince them of the same, teach them, and prepare them for what he was going to send them out to do.
Jesus needed them to drop what they were doing so they could spend the time needed prior to his death and resurrection, which by the way, he knew when it was going to happen. Jesus knew his time was short.
So, there is a literal following, leaving everything, and walking around the countryside learning from Jesus.
But what about us?
What does it mean fo us to follow Jesus today?
Obviously, Jesus isn’t walking around the countryside teaching would-be followers. Yet, we still can follow Jesus as his disciples. We can still study the teachings of Jesus and apply them to our lives.
Where Jesus teaches us not to call people names, we don’t. Where he tells us to lay our treasures in up in heaven rather than earth, we do. Where he teaches us how to pray, we pray as such.
To follow Jesus today is to be a student of Jesus, one who learns from him and applies what is learned to our lives. It is about living in the way that Jesus called us to live. It is about being the salt and the light which he said we would be as his disciples.
John 8:12 NRSV
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
So, what does it mean to follow Jesus today? To follow Jesus is to keep his teachings. It is much more than just belief.