Jesus repeatedly invited individuals to follow Him. These invitations were made to key individuals, eventual disciples, many who accepted and even to a number who rejected. Consider:
- Simon and Andrew - Matthew 4:18 "As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 'Come, follow me,' Jesus said…"
- The Rich Young Man - Matthew 19:21 "Jesus answered, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'"
- Peter and John - John 21:19-22 "Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, 'Follow me!' Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, 'Lord, who is going to betray you?') When Peter saw him, he asked, 'Lord, what about him?' Jesus answered, 'If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.'"
The invitation to follow did not stop when Jesus ascended into the heavens and departed from earth. The invitation was extended to the masses and following generations, long after his departure. Therefore, this invitation is to all people everywhere. Consider:
- John 12:26 "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me."
- John 10:27 "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."
- Romans 15:5 "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus…"
- 1 Peter 2:21 "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."
7 Specific Ways Jesus Invites People to Follow Today - While Jesus is not physically present here on earth today, He still invites people into a relationship. The fact is, He uses just about anything, anywhere, at anytime with anyone. Without that drawing, man would never find Him on his own. Consider John 6:44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." The word "draws" in the original Greek is helkuō. It means to drag, literally or figuratively. There are a couple of key methods He uses to draw individuals to Himself:
1. By Drawing Attention to His Person - The actual lifting up and crucifixion of Jesus on the cross draws people’s attention, causing them to look and consider. But His "lifting up" doesn’t end on the cross. This concept also applies when we make Jesus famous. When we shine the spotlight on His Person, character, works or deeds by means of our words, actions or worship, that spotlight draws attention to Him as well. Consider:
- John 12:32 "'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.'" The phrase “lifted up” in the original Greek is hupsoō. It means to elevate, literally or figuratively and to exalt or lift up.
- Acts 2:36-39 "'Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.' When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.'"
2. The Process of Revelation - God supernaturally reveals His Son Jesus to people. This process doesn't always happen at once. It can take place through a number of encounters, and it tends to be progressive in nature. It can even be quite painful depending on how "thick-headed you are." This process is important to understand, especially as a parent or ministry leader. While we do all we can to teach and lead, we understand that God must do His part and draw. As a parent, you should watch and pray for this activity in the lives of your children! It is critical. We are not raising families to know Bible facts and figures. We are raising them with the expectation that they will have a born again relationship with the creator of the universe. We teach our children. But they need a revelation of Him!
- Matthew 16:15-17 "'But what about you?' he asked.'Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.'" The Greek word for "revealed" is apokaluptō. It means to take off the cover, or to disclose something.
- Galatians 1:15-16 "But when God…was pleased to reveal his Son in me…"
3. The Word of God - From cover to cover, the Bible naturally and supernaturally reveals Jesus! That is why it is important to incorporate the Word of God into our lives, discussions, ministries, homes, etc. If we expect God to draw people into a relationship with His Son, His drawing is always accelerated as we involve His Word! Consider:
- John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
- John 1:4 "In him was life; and the life was the light of men."
- John 1:14 "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
- Romans 10:17 "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."
4. The Work of the Holy Spirit - The Holy Spirit is unfettered in dealing with a person. He is not limited by space or time. He can deal with a person lying in bed at night. He can ignite a single sentence in a movie. He can whisper in the middle of a concert. Ultimately, the Spirit of God is the arm of God that reaches out to man and touches his dead spirit to inflate it like a dried out balloon, bringing new life. He can do what no talent, persona or effort could ever do. He can and will grab the hearts of all men. He draws. In our gatherings we expect His drawing. Consider:
- John 16:13-15 "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you."
5. The Supernatural and Miraculous - Anything that God does of a miraculous nature has His ultimate goal of drawing attention to himself so that people will see His goodness and respond to the relationship he offers. Consider:
- Acts 5:12-14 "The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number."
6. The Efforts of His Followers - We are called to draw the attention of others to Jesus with our words, actions and worship. Consider:
- Romans 10:14 "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?"
7. The Difficult Circumstances of Life - God often uses bad circumstances, sometimes brought on by our own actions, to get our attention. Knowing that God desires to draw all men, and uses negative circumstances, we have to be careful not to fix everything for the people we love.
- Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
Ultimately, God's drawing process needs to be responded to with a decision... the decision that says, "Yes. I believe. Yes, I will abandon my course. Yes, I will follow you."