Christian Life

What Does it Mean to Follow Jesus?

This article is adapted from a sermon I preached on 13 January 2019, entitled “Following the Leader.” Video and audio may be found here.

Peter has just made an important confession; that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One (Mk 8:27-33). How do you sum up what this office means?1 It’s common to see Christ as the prophet, priest and king. Millard Erickson shifts the emphasis from office to function, and presents Jesus as the revealer, ruler and reconciler.2

Because Jesus does these things; because He reveals God’s message, will rule over all creation and reconciles any and everyone who comes to God through Him, how should you follow Jesus? That’s what this passage (Mk 8:34 – 9:1) is all about.

Then, after Jesus summoned the crowd, along with His disciples, He said to them, (Mk 8:34).

Jesus’ lessons on discipleship aren’t just for “super Christians.” Jesus invited apostles and the crowd to listen. If you’re a Christian, this message is for you!

If someone wishes to be following me, he must deny himself, then pick up his cross, then keep on following me (Mk 8:34).

If you’re a Christian, what does Jesus say a faithful life looks like? What do you have to do to be the kind of Christian Jesus can smile at?

Here it is:

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Don't Be a Fake

Psalm 119 is a beautiful text about God’s word. It begins with the psalmist tells us the only people in this world who are blessed are those “whose way is blameless,” (Ps 119:1). Of course, nobody is actually blameless in the sense of being “perfect,” and the psalmist knew that, too. He means that people are blessed “who walk in the law of the Lord,” (Ps 119:1). That is, you’re blessed if you do what His word says.

This is simple to understand. We get it. But God wants more than blind, rote conformity. Dead externalism is a waste of time; if you’re just “going through the motions,” then don’t bother. Read Malachi 1 or Isaiah 1, and see for yourself! The psalmist knows that, too. It’s why he clarified (Ps 119:2-3):

Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
    who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
    but walk in his ways!

God doesn’t want fake conformity. He wants people who not only keep his testimonies, but do it for the right reasons; “who seek him with their whole heart,” (Ps 119:2). When you think about your Christian life, think about your motivations for doing what you do. Why do you go to church? Why do you serve? Why do you give? Why do you do anything? Do you want to seek God with your whole heart? Or is this whole thing more of a routine, a mindless exercise you engage in while you think of other things?

The psalmist wants to do what God says; it’s what motivates him! He wrote (Ps 119:4-6):

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