Why Do We Follow Jesus?

by Steven Chan
23 January 2011

In John 6:66-69, the Bible records the incident when many of the disciples of Jesus chose to no longer continue their walk with Him: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

What is our motivation for following Jesus?

Is it because there are a lot of people following Him? Some go to church because there a lot of people attending that church or because many of their friends attend that same church. If that’s the criteria for following Jesus, then when the crowd or many of our friends leave Jesus or the church, do we also follow them?

Is it because we like what we hear and so we follow Jesus? So what happens when we don’t like what we hear? In John 6:60-61, Jesus said some things that were hard to accept and sounded offensive to the disciples: “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, doth this offend you?” When the teachings of Jesus are hard to accept, will we choose to stop walking with Jesus?

In Matt 19:1-10, when Jesus taught that marriage is for life and that the only ground for divorce is adultery, “His disciples say unto him, if the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.”(Matt 19:10). They recognized that the teaching of Jesus on marriage, divorce and remarriage was stringent and felt that it may be better not to marry than to be bound by such strict requirements. Today, many teach otherwise and would allow divorce and remarriage for whatever reasons. So, when the truth on marriage, divorce and remarriage as taught by Jesus is revealed from the Scriptures, will some also stop following Jesus?

In 2 Tim 4:2 -4, the Bible warned that “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (ESV) Do we go to church because what is taught there is agreeable with our own opinions and preferences? In other words, some choose the church that they will attend because that church has doctrines and teachings that are in agreement with their own views – for example, some will choose to attend the Metropolitan Community Church because that church group accepts gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender persons without any need for them to change their lifestyles. The Bible tells us 1 Cor 6:9-11 that the church in Corinth also accepted “the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who practice homosexuality, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers”(ESV) but they were first required to cease from their unrighteous activities and because of their repentance and subsequent obedience to the gospel by being baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, they were added to the church: “And Peter said to them, “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.”(Acts 2:38) This is clearly evident from what the Bible says in Eph 5:3 -8: “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” In Eph 4:28 the Bible says: “Let the thief (i.e. who has now been washed or baptized) no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” The thief who has been accepted into the church cannot continue to steal! He has to stop stealing and start working and earning an honest living. So, similarly, the immoral and the homosexual must also stop their unrighteous deeds (Rom 1:24-28).

Why then should we follow Jesus?

Peter gave the answer when he replied the Lord: “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” It is the words or teachings of Jesus and the fact that He is the Son of God that should motivate us to follow Him. Please note that it is not just the belief that Jesus is the Son of God but also that He has the Words of eternal life. Some want Jesus but they do not want to accept all His Words or teachings. To those who want to follow Jesus but not follow all His teachings, Jesus warned in John 12:48: “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” Again in Luke 6:46, Jesus asked rhetorically: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”

In Mat 7:21, Jesus declared: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Let us be careful and know the right reason why we follow Jesus. Do we share the same motive as Peter who answered: “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”