The undergirding message of Christianity is that as members of the human family, we are invited to follow Jesus: a first century prophetic figure operating within the Hebrew messianic tradition from a town called Nazareth.
What did he say? What did he do? Who witnessed these events? Are they credible?
After all wasn’t it Jesus, who said…
I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. – John 6:35
I am the light of the world. – John 8:12
I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. – John 10:9
Should these words be taken at face value? Should we look for figurative or literal meanings?
Evidently this man’s inner circle of friends was so enamored by his teachings, they were willing to forsake everything – quit their jobs (Mark 1:17), renounce former acquaintances (Luke 14:25-27), and even suffer physical torture that on occasion would result in their own deaths (Acts 7:54-60) – to become wondering itinerant missionaries sharing the good news of Jesus’ message, marvelous miracles, and magnanimous grace.
What could lead these early disciples to trust a teacher they witnessed be arrested (Matthew 26:47-56), a disgraced preacher rejected by his congregation and community (Luke 23), and a felon executed by the state for subversion and treason (Mark 15:23-25)?
What did these early followers hear, see, and know?
The testimonies of scripture give us some context, but is that enough?
As members of local congregations and Christ followers, we like the early disciples wrestle daily with interpreting the significance of Jesus’ actions and translating those interpreted discoveries into lived practices, that stretch us sometimes beyond comfort and place us in precarious situations where like the disciples ostracized for believing in the seemingly impossible and to confidently assert what many consider unknowable.
Why? Because we have heard the voice of Jesus say, “Come follow me” (Matthew 4:19).
This Lent, we are invited to hear Christ’s voice still calling us and remember that we are not alone when we answer that call.
Rather, we are part of a great cloud of witnesses that despite flaws – find meaning in saying, “Yes.”