As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. NIV
Follow Me. An invitation from the Son of God. An invitation to leave everything behind. An invitation to personal sacrifice. An invitation to take up a cross. An invitation to you!
Jesus knew that His invitation might cost everything to those who accepted it. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me,” Jesus said (Mark 8:34). For some that would involve separation from family and familiar places. Others would have to give up some of the things they hold dear, their own plans and ambitions. Still others would face ridicule and scorn and suffer persecution and death. There’s always a cost to following Jesus.
We don’t always think in those terms today. There is so much emphasis in present-day Christianity about meeting our own needs and desires. It has become self-centered religion rather than Christ-centered faith. We offer God the bare minimum and demand maximum benefits in return. It is almost as if we expect God to follow us. And when He doesn’t, we get disappointed and annoyed with God.
Imagine what it must have been like for the people of Jesus’ time – a carpenter from Galilee comes and says, “Follow me.” And there you are sitting at your workplace, earning a decent living perhaps, and suddenly you have to make a choice. This carpenter was not going to make you rich or even offer you a steady income. He makes no promises of wealth or fame; indeed, ominously, He speaks of a cross. Yet something stirred inside their hearts, and men like Levi knew that this was an invitation that could not be turned down.
The call to “follow Me” is not a one-off thing or something that involves mere mental assent. It is a decision of the heart to follow and keep following. It represents a willingness to be always laying ourselves down for Jesus, yielding to Him, yielding to His ways. To follow Him is to give up our own agendas and take on His agenda. We may not know where we are going. It may confound our understanding and stretch our faith.
But know this: we never walk blind when we follow after Jesus. He has a plan and a purpose for our life; it is what He had in mind for each of us from the foundation of the world. And that is what He now calls us to. Yes, He sometimes calls us to follow Him through difficult situations and challenging circumstances but He always leads us to the place of fulfillment, to the place of the Father’s purpose. It really is a call to follow Him to abundant life, to a full and fruitful life.
For some, the cost of following Jesus was too high and they were not willing. Remember the rich young ruler? I wonder how he must have felt at the end of his life – he chose to hold on to the things he could not take with him to eternity and gave up that which could have been his forever.
What price will we pay for the awesome privilege of knowing the Son of God, of experiencing His presence? What price the peace of God? What price the fulfillment of the purpose of God in our lives? What price of someday being able to see Him face to face?