As the theme for our church is “Following Jesus”, one might ask “How do we follow Jesus?” In my meditation of the theme, I realize that there are three metaphors which can help us understand what it entails.
The Good Shepherd and His Sheep
The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. (John 10:2-4)
Jesus is our Good Shepherd and we are his sheep. As his sheep, we listen to his voice and follow him. When we fail to follow him, we fall prey to predators. Sheep tend to go astray when they lose sight of their shepherd. Sheep which are lost become helpless, desperate and fearful.
As his sheep, we are dependent on the Good Shepherd who guides, feeds and protects us. So it is imperative that we recognize his voice and stay close to him. But if we try to go our own way, we may lose our way or become vulnerable to ‘robbers and wild beasts’. We learn to trust him at all times, even when we can’t see or understand what is going on. We follow him because he gives us security.
The benefit of following the Shepherd includes experiencing his care and comfort. When we are hurt, he soothes us; when we are troubled, he comforts us; and when we are fearful, he assures us.
The Teacher and His Disciples
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40)
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (John 13:13-15)
We follow Jesus because we are his disciples. He is our Teacher and we learn from him. Our aspiration as disciples is to be like Jesus. It calls for commitment. We are to lay aside everything that distracts us from following him. First, we need to give up our pride, to learn what it means to be a servant. We must be willing to bear with humiliation. Discipleship also calls for sacrifices. It is not a path of comfort, but of hardship and pain. We must give up our rights in order to look out for the interest of others.
As his disciples, we do not merely gain knowledge about God, but aspire to have the same faith and love as our Lord. On a number of occasions, our Lord rebuked his disciples, “Where is your faith?” He wanted his disciples to exercise the same authority to preach and heal. And that’s what they did after Pentecost – preaching and performing miracles in His Name. In a similar manner, they learned how to love – the hard way. All the time, they were disputing about who is the greatest, and the Lord demonstrated his love for them by washing their feet. And it was after Gethsemane, when loving one another became the distinguishing mark of the disciples.
A Fisher of Men
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matt.4:19)
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (Matt.28:18,19)
When we follow Jesus, we see our occupations in a different light. We are no longer preoccupied with self and what we need to do in order to survive. We develop a heart for other people and a vision for the world. What we do for a living is very limited in scope, but what we do for the Lord is far reaching, and what the Lord does through us is unlimited.
Let’s take a look at our lives. Do we just count the material blessings? No!! For all the years we have followed the Lord, how many peoples’ lives have been touched? Who has come to know the Lord? Who has been blessed through you? Who has been impacted through your lives, words or teaching?
Personally, I do not count myself as anywhere near great or famous, but I do thank God for the privilege of sharing the Word, even if it is just once, in countries where I had never expected – Nigeria, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Mongolia. I do believe that God has used some of you to touch lives in many other countries too.
So let us, as members of the Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, reflect on the theme ‘Following Jesus’ for these two years, and consider how we can each follow him daily in our homes, neighbourhood, place of work, and even globally, if that’s where the Lord has placed you.
God bless you.
∼ Rev. Lim Kim Hock
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