“Come Be My Follower”
“If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake day after day and follow me.”—LUKE 9:23.
1, 2. (a) What kind invitation did Jesus offer? (b) How have you responded to Jesus’ invitation?
TOWARD the end of his ministry, Jesus was witnessing in Perea, a region across the Jordan, northeast of Judea. He was approached by a young man who asked what he had to do to inherit everlasting life. Jesus, after ascertaining that the young man was faithfully observing the Mosaic Law, issued an outstanding invitation. He said: “Go, sell what things you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come be my follower.” (Mark 10:21) Just think—an invitation to follow Jesus, the only-begotten Son of the Most High God!
2 That young man rejected the invitation, but others accepted it. Earlier, Jesus had said to Philip: “Be my follower.” (John 1:43) Philip accepted and later became an apostle. Jesus repeated the invitation to Matthew, and he too accepted it. (Matt. 9:9; 10:2-4) Indeed, Jesus offered the same invitation to all lovers of righteousness when he said: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake day after day and follow me continually.” (Luke 9:23) Hence, anyone can be Jesus’ follower if he really wants to. Do you have that desire? Most of us have already responded positively to Jesus’ kind invitation, and in the field ministry, we convey that invitation to others.
3. How can we avoid drifting away from following Jesus?
3 Sadly, though, some who have shown an interest in Bible truth do not continue. Rather, they slow down and eventually “drift away” from following Jesus. (Heb. 2:1) How can we avoid falling into that trap? It helps if we ask ourselves: ‘Why did I choose to follow Jesus in the first place? What does it mean to follow him?’ Bearing the answers to those two questions in mind will help us to strengthen our resolve to remain on the fine path we have chosen. It will also help us to encourage others to follow Jesus.
Why Follow Jesus?
4, 5. Why is Jesus qualified to lead?
4 The prophet Jeremiah stated: “I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jer. 10:23) History has borne out the truth of Jeremiah’s words. It has become increasingly evident that imperfect humans cannot successfully govern themselves. We accepted the invitation to follow Jesus because we learned that he is qualified to be our Leader in a way that no human could ever be. Consider some of Jesus’ qualifications.
5 First, Jesus was chosen as Messiah the Leader by Jehovah himself. Who knows better than our Creator whom to appoint as a Leader for us? Second, Jesus has qualities that we can admire and imitate. (Read Isaiah 11:2, 3.) He is a perfect example. (1 Pet. 2:21) Third, Jesus deeply cares about those who follow him, as he showed when he laid down his life for them. (Read John 10:14, 15.) And he shows himself to be a caring shepherd as he guides us to a life that brings happiness now and leads to a glorious eternal future. (John 10:10, 11; Rev. 7:16, 17) For these and other reasons, we made a wise decision when we chose to follow him. What, though, does such a course involve?
6. What is involved in following Jesus?
6 Being followers of Christ means more than just calling ourselves Christian. Some two billion people claim to be Christian today, but their actions reveal them to be “workers of lawlessness.” (Read Matthew 7:21-23.) When individuals show an interest in the invitation to follow Jesus, we explain to them that true Christians pattern their entire way of life after his teachings and example—and they do so every day of their lives. To illustrate what this means, consider some of the things that we know about Jesus.
Imitate Jesus’ Example of Wisdom
7, 8. (a) What is wisdom, and why did Jesus possess it so abundantly? (b) How did Jesus demonstrate wisdom, and how can we imitate him?
7 Jesus manifested many outstanding qualities, but we will focus on four: his wisdom, his humility, his zeal, and his love. First, consider his wisdom—his ability to put knowledge and understanding to work in a practical way. The apostle Paul wrote: “Carefully concealed in [Jesus] are all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge.” (Col. 2:3) Where did Jesus get such wisdom? He himself said: “Just as the Father taught me I speak these things.” (John 8:28) His wisdom originated with Jehovah, so we are not surprised at the soundness of Jesus’ judgment.
8 For example, Jesus used good judgment in choosing his life course. He decided to keep his life simple, focusing on just one thing: the doing of God’s will. He wisely devoted his time and energy to furthering Kingdom interests. We follow Jesus’ example by striving to keep a ‘simple eye’ and thus avoid weighing ourselves down with unnecessary things that consume our energy and attention. (Matt. 6:22) Many Christians have taken steps to simplify their lifestyle so that they can devote more time to the ministry. Some have been able to enter the pioneer service. If you are one of those, that is most commendable. “Seeking first the kingdom” brings great happiness and satisfaction.—Matt. 6:33.
Be Humble Like Jesus
9, 10. How did Jesus demonstrate his humility?
9 The second aspect of Jesus’ personality that we will consider is his humility. When imperfect humans are given authority, they often develop an inflated sense of their own importance. How different it was with Jesus! Despite his key position in the outworking of Jehovah’s purpose, Jesus was free of even the slightest hint of haughtiness. And we are encouraged to imitate him in that. The apostle Paul wrote: “Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men.” (Phil. 2:5-7) What did that involve?
10 Jesus enjoyed the glorious privilege of dwelling in his Father’s heavenly presence, but he willingly “emptied himself.” His life was transferred to the womb of a Jewish virgin, there to develop for nine months until he was born as a helpless infant in the household of a lowly carpenter. In Joseph’s house, Jesus gradually grew to be a toddler, a little boy, and then a teenager. He was sinless. Yet, throughout his youth he remained subject to parents who were imperfect sinners. (Luke 2:51, 52) What extraordinary humility!
11. In what ways can we imitate Jesus’ humility?
11 We imitate Jesus’ humility when we willingly accept assignments that might seem lowly. As an example, consider the assignment to preach the good news. Such work may appear lowly, especially when people respond with apathy, ridicule, or hostility. However, by persisting in the preaching work, we help others to respond to Jesus’ invitation to follow him. Thus we help to save lives. (Read 2 Timothy 4:1-5.) Another example is the maintenance of our Kingdom Hall. That can involve such things as emptying trash cans, mopping floors, and cleaning washrooms—all humble tasks! Still, we recognize that maintaining our Kingdom Hall—the center of pure worship in the locality—is part of our sacred service. By willingly completing tasks that seem lowly, we show humility and thus follow in the footsteps of Christ.
Like Jesus, Be Zealous
12, 13. (a) How did Jesus demonstrate zeal, and what motivated him? (b) What will motivate us to be zealous in the ministry?
12 Consider Jesus’ zeal in the ministry. Jesus did many things when he was on earth. In his early life, he likely worked with his adoptive father, Joseph, as a carpenter. During his ministry, Jesus performed miracles, including healing the sick and raising the dead. But his main work was that of preaching the good news and teaching those who had listening ears. (Matt. 4:23) As his followers, we have the same work to do. How can we follow his example? For one thing, we can cultivate motives like those of Jesus.
13 Above all, love for God motivated Jesus to preach and to teach. But Jesus also loved the truths he taught. To him, those truths were priceless treasures, and he was eager to share them with others. We as teachers, or ‘public instructors,’ feel the same way. Just think of some of the precious truths we have learned from God’s Word! We know of the issue of universal sovereignty and how it will be settled. We well understand what the Scriptures teach about the condition of the dead and the blessings to come in God’s new world. Whether we learned such truths in recent times or long ago, they never fade in value. Old or new, such truths are, indeed, priceless treasures. (Read Matthew 13:52.) By preaching with heartfelt enthusiasm, we convey to others our love for what Jehovah has taught us.
14. How can we imitate Jesus’ manner of teaching?
14 Notice, too, how Jesus taught. He constantly directed his hearers to the Scriptures. He frequently introduced an important point by saying: “It is written.” (Matt. 4:4; 21:13) In his recorded words, he quoted directly from or referred indirectly to over half of the books of the Hebrew Scriptures. Like Jesus, we rely heavily on the Bible in our ministry and endeavor to feature the Scriptures whenever possible. In that way, we help righthearted ones to see for themselves that we are teaching God’s thoughts, not our own. How it delights us when someone agrees to read from the Bible and to discuss the value and meaning of God’s Word! And when such ones accept the invitation to follow Jesus, our joy is boundless.
Following Jesus Means Loving Others
15. What was an outstanding quality of Jesus, and how can reflecting on it affect us?
15 The final aspect of Jesus’ personality that we will discuss is most heartwarming—his love for fellow humans. The apostle Paul wrote: “The love the Christ has compels us.” (2 Cor. 5:14) When we reflect on the love that Jesus has for mankind in general and for us as individuals, our hearts are touched and we feel compelled to follow his example.
16, 17. In what ways did Jesus show his love for others?
16 How did Jesus show love for others? His willingness to surrender his soul in mankind’s behalf was the ultimate expression of his love. (John 15:13) However, during his ministry, Jesus also showed love in other ways. For instance, he had fellow feeling for those who were suffering. When he saw Mary and those with her weeping over the death of Lazarus, he was greatly touched by their sorrow. Although he was about to resurrect Lazarus, Jesus was so moved that he “gave way to tears.”—John 11:32-35.
17 Early in Jesus’ ministry, a leper approached Jesus and said: “If you just want to, you can make me clean.” How did Jesus respond? The record says: “He was moved with pity.” He then did something extraordinary. “He stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him: ‘I want to. Be made clean.’ And immediately the leprosy vanished from him, and he became clean.” Under the Mosaic Law, lepers were unclean, and Jesus could certainly have healed the man without physical contact. Yet, as Jesus healed the leper, he allowed him to feel the touch of another human, perhaps for the first time in years. What a tender act of compassion!—Mark 1:40-42.
18. How can we demonstrate “fellow feeling”?
18 As followers of Christ, we are called on to demonstrate our love by showing “fellow feeling.” (1 Pet. 3:8) It may not be easy to understand the feelings of a fellow believer who is suffering from a chronic illness or deep depression—especially if we have never experienced such things ourselves. Still, Jesus empathized with the sick even though he himself was never sick. How can we cultivate similar empathy? By patiently listening as suffering ones open up their hearts to us. We could also ask ourselves, ‘If I were in their situation, how would I feel?’ If we cultivate sensitivity to the feelings of others, we will be better able to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls.” (1 Thess. 5:14) Thus we will be following Jesus.
19. In what ways are we affected by the example of Jesus?
19 What a thrilling field of study we find in the words and deeds of Jesus Christ! The more we learn about him, the more we want to be like him—and the more we want to help others to do the same. By all means, then, let us find delight in following the Messianic King—now and forever!
Can You Explain?
• How can we show wisdom, as Jesus did?
• In what ways can we demonstrate humility?
• How can we cultivate zeal for the ministry?
• In what ways can we imitate Jesus in showing love for others?
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A PUBLICATION THAT HELPS US TO IMITATE CHRIST
During the 2007 district convention program, a 192-page book entitled “Come Be My Follower” was released. This publication is designed to assist Christians to focus on Jesus, especially on his qualities and actions. After two introductory chapters, the first section provides an overview of Jesus’ outstanding qualities—his humility, his courage, his wisdom, his obedience, and his endurance.
Following this are sections on Jesus’ activities as a teacher and as a preacher of the good news and on some of the ways that his great love was manifested. Throughout the book, information is presented to help a Christian to imitate Jesus.
We are confident that this publication will move all of us to examine ourselves and ask: ‘Am I really following Jesus? How can I follow him more closely?’ It will also help “all those who [are] rightly disposed for everlasting life” to become followers of Christ.—Acts 13:48.
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Jesus consented to come to earth and be born as a human baby. What quality did that require?
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What will motivate us to be zealous in the ministry?