By James Smith
"Follow Me!" John 21:19
"They follow the Lamb wherever He goes!" Revelation 14:4
He who would be found in good company--must accept the Savior's invitation, and follow him. He calls us to him, as the Author of eternal salvation, and invites us to follow him as the Shepherd of his flock. Nature is for inquiring, "Where will he lead me?" But grace is willing to follow wherever he goes.
Jesus leads all his followers out of the world--unfits them for its pleasures and practices; and, though they are often entangled by it, they cannot be comfortable in it. Divine teaching proves that they are not of the world, even as Jesus is not of the world.
He leads us into fellowship with himself and his Father; and we find our sweetest comforts and most precious communications flow from holy fellowship. Having once enjoyed sweet, heart-melting, soul-liberating fellowship with God in Christ--we cannot be satisfied, or feel happy--but as we are living in the enjoyment of such a high and holy privilege.
He leads us into the way of holiness; holiness becomes the object of our ardent desire, constant pursuit, and earnest prayer. It is the element which we must breathe, if we are in spiritual health--it is the attainment we seek, if we are really taught of God.
He will lead us to heaven. Our way may be through a waste, howling wilderness--we may be tried, tempted, disappointed, and perplexed daily; but if we follow Jesus, we shall be glorified eventually. It is through much tribulation he conducts--but all who follow him must enter the kingdom!
He'll lead them on fair Zion's road,
Though weary, weak, and faint;
For, O! they ne'er shall lose their God,
Nor Jesus lose one saint.
Jesus says,"Follow Me!" and for all who follow, he provides everything necessary for the journey. He will feed with the finest of the wheat, and with honey out of the rock--all who cleave unto him with full purpose of heart. His promises are marrow and fatness; his presence is a delightful feast, which those often taste who live near him in the exercise of faith and fellowship.
He who follows Jesus may safely trust all his concerns in his hands--he will order, arrange, and manage all for him with infinite wisdom and unparalleled prudence. None walk so safely, so consistently, or so prosperously, as those who step, or endeavor to step in all the Savior's foot-marks. He will warn them of danger, protect them from harm, comfort them with tokens of his love, and bless them with the Spirit in their hearts. He will compass them with favor as with a shield, feed them with the heritage of Jacob their father, give them more grace--nor will he withhold one good thing from them.
But there can be no following Jesus to purpose, unless we are brought to resign ourselves and all that belongs to us, into his hands. Until we can bring all we have, and all we are--and lay it down at the Savior's feet, and write upon it with our own hand, guided by a willing heart, "This is the Lord's!" --we shall make but poor work of following Jesus. If we have many interests, each will call to us, have a claim on us, and a demand from us; but if our interests are all merged in the interests of Jesus, our interest being his, and his ours--then we shall proceed with pleasure, satisfaction and willingness.
Most men are willing to follow their treasures--but few are willing to leave them. Just so, unless Jesus becomes our treasure, our portion, our all--we shall not follow him heartily, cheerfully, or universally.
Reader, have you anything you have not resigned to Jesus? have you anything which you cannot deliberately and heartily give up into his hands? If so, you will find it a burden on the mind, a plague to the soul, a disease at the heart! You will make but sorry progress at any time, and no progress at all in stripping times: for he can never cheerfully give up for Jesus, who has not first given up to Jesus.
There will be no following Jesus to purpose, unless we believe in his revealed character. Unless we can believe he is wise, merciful, and faithful--we shall never follow him far or freely. How can I trust myself with an unwise, unmerciful, or treacherous person? It is impossible. One great reason why we do not follow Jesus fully, is founded in our ignorance of, or lack of faith in, what Jesus is. He who believes heartily that Christ is what the gospel says he is, and what saints in every age have proved him to be--can trust Jesus with all, and leave himself and all his concerns in his hands.
My brother, are you afraid to trust Jesus--to follow Jesus, or afraid you shall be a loser by Jesus? If so, you do not know him, or you do not fully believe the testimony God has given of his Son. O what comparatively happy lives we would live, if we practically believed Jesus to be what he really is--the kind, tender-hearted, gracious, faithful, and ever-loving Friend of sinners.
We shall never fully accept this invitation, until we are fully persuaded that our happiness, holiness, and safety are involved in it.
What can make me truly happy? The presence of Jesus and the light he graciously communicates. But how is this to be enjoyed? He tells me, "He who follows me, shall not walk in darkness--but shall have the light of life."
What can make me holy? Only the gracious work, teaching, and communications of the Holy Spirit. But what is the design of his work, teaching, and communications? To glorify Jesus; and herein is Jesus glorified, that his disciples forsake all and follow him wherever he goes. The holy flock always follow the sanctifying Shepherd.
In what consists my safety? In my Savior's watchful eye, potent arm, and loving heart. But when are the evidences of these being employed for us, enjoyed? Only when we are found following in his sacred footsteps.
But WHERE are we to follow Jesus? Wherever he goes, through evil report and good report. He is to be constantly set before us as our one grand object, and we are to run our race looking unto him. Follow him in all his holy institutions, and soul-feeding ordinances, in every self-denying path, in every arduous duty, and in every gracious privilege. Endeavor to imbibe his spirit. He was meek and lowly in heart. Prize and search his word--for there his footprints are to be discovered. Look to his fullness for wisdom, strength, and all necessary provision. Rely on his faithful promise, in the most unfavorable circumstances. Trust his veracity in the dark uncomfortable night of trial and trouble. Follow him in sighs, cries, groans, and prayers, when you feel unable to follow him in any other way, and remember that he is always at your right hand, that you may not be greatly moved.
Expect much opposition from Satan, self, the world, and many professors of religion; but always bear in mind Jesus, who bought you with his blood, quickened you by his grace, and has promised you glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life--your Jesus says, "follow Me--not them."