When Jesus called his disciples, he did not say, “I have a five-point lecture on forgiveness and a class on tithing, and then we will discuss denominational mission statements.” He simply said, "Follow me."
When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me."
(John 21:21-22, bold added)
We are back diving into the Gospel of John, as we finish our look at John 1:37-51.
There are two principles in this passage dear to my heart:
1. For a disciple of Jesus the simple path is, “Follow me.”
2. For a disciple the simple invitation to others is, “Come and see.”
John the Baptist has just pointed Jesus out to young Andrew and John, (the writer of this gospel) and they start walking after him. Jesus turns around and asks them what is it they want with him, and in perhaps the all-time dumbest answer ever, they fumble out a lame, They said, "Rabbi" (which means "Teacher"), "where are you staying?"
Now of all the options Jesus has at his disposal with which to answer them, including something sarcastic like, “Is that the best you can come up with?” – Jesus simply replies:
"Come," he replied, "and you will see.”
John continues the story:
“The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me.”
We make things so complicated, don’t we? We get into discussions and debates and even arguments about details that serve only to distract us from what is most important: Following Jesus.
Notice in Jesus’ invitation to both Andrew and John, as well as Philip, Jesus did not say, “Come sit over here and start taking notes about systematic theology.” He did not say, “I have a five point lecture on forgiveness, and following that a class on tithing, and following that we will discuss at length church doctrine and denominational mission statements.” He simply said, in essence, “Follow me … first, and as you do you will see and understand all that I have for you.”
Now you may be thinking, “Okay, those disciples literally followed a man named Jesus. They walked around with him, learning directly from him. What does that look like now, in my world?”
It looks like keeping your eyes focused on him first and foremost, especially when distractions and complications become clouding and confusing. It looks like following Jesus first, not first following your preacher, teacher, church, church doctrine or denomination.
It certainly looks like not following the culture around you – I hope that is a given.
For me, many times it looks like slowing down, and sitting with my best friend Jesus, simply by reading the “red ink” in the gospels. Simply reading Jesus’ words. (I am constantly reading the whole of the scriptures, and yes all scripture is God-breathed, inspired, and of absolute equal importance.)
But there are times when just reading Jesus’ words is so comforting, and so clarifying. The fog lifts and the way becomes clear. When I lose my way, or the way is uncertain, I simply slow down and follow Jesus as he says,
"I am the way and the truth and the life … Follow me.” (John 1:6)