"All who want to serve Me must follow Me"
17 Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, and they were telling others about it. 18 That was the reason so many went out to meet himâ€”because they had heard about this miraculous sign. 19 Then the Pharisees said to each other, "There's nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!"
As if to emphasize the point made in the previous post, verses 17-19 tells us plainly: those that went out to meet Jesus Christ did so because they had heard of the signs that He was performing. It was the signs that drew the crowd--and yet, they even while fulfilling prophesy, did not yet recognize Him as the fulfillment. And why didn't they? Because they had not yet witnessed the ultimate purpose of Jesus's coming and had not received what He had come to give them, which Jesus explains when some of the Greeks that had seen the crowds asked to meet this Man who had caused multitudes to declare Him King:
20 Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration 21 paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, "Sir, we want to meet Jesus." 22 Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus.
23 Jesus replied, "Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernelsâ€”a plentiful harvest of new lives. 25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. 26 Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me. 27 "Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, 'Father, save me from this hour'? But this is the very reason I came! 28 Father, bring glory to your name."
We see Jesus in His final days not pointing the people backwards to what God had done previously, and not asking them to believe because of what He was capable of, but to look forward to the time at hand--the swiftly approaching day when the plan of God would be fully realized. In His typical fashion, Jesus employs a parable, likening the spiritual things about to take place to the physical world that His audience readily understood:
"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels--a plentiful harvest of new lives."
Jesus's death was necessary. No one could receive the New Birth until He died--until He tasted death on our behalf. And why? Because we had to attain the same position spiritually that He held--perfect fellowship with the Father, and a heart yielded to the will of God and spotless before Him. We cannot attain this standing in and of ourselves. We cannot live perfect lives, and we all, like sheep go astray and attempt to follow our own paths (Isaiah 53:6). It took Jesus Christ and the Power of God to change our hearts and soften them towards Him. It took the pouring out of the Spirit of God upon all flesh to give us the faith needed to live for the Lord. It took the sacrifice of the spotless Lamb to cleanse us from our sins.
Jesus continues, teaching us in verses 25 and 26 what it means to attain eternal life: it means counting as lost the things of this World and instead focusing on the lasting and eternal things of God, and second, to follow Jesus Christ. We know what it means to count as lost the things of the World--it means to be sacrificial, just as Jesus was sacrificial. It means to arrange our affairs so that God's will be done in all things, and it means storing up our 'treasures' in heaven; putting our time and energy into Godly and worthwhile causes instead of draining ourselves on things that have no eternal value.
The second part of that, though--following Jesus is a little bit more tricky to grasp. Does following Jesus mean that we simply read and learn about Him, or is there more to it?
Following Him means going where he goes and doing what He did. Not all of us will become martyrs, and not all of us will wonder about praying for the sick and raising the dead and speaking in parables.
Some of us will become teachers, and will share the Truth of the Gospel with the world. Some will become parents, and will raise up their children to honor God and to serve Him. Some will become doctors and will do all they can to care for people. Some will become drive through employees, and will share the Gospel with their coworkers and be an example of hard work and integrity that shows others the character of Jesus.
Following Jesus is ultimately about the heart--yielding ourselves entirely to the will of God for our lives, and serving Him. God honors those who serve the Son in whatever capacity they do so.
Jesus did ask God to take the burden from Him of serving in the capacity to which He was called--but Jesus recognized that the Will of God needed doing, regardless of His will. We too must walk that road, and come to a place where we can say, "Not my will, but yours be done." When we have done that, we too are following Jesus where He went. We too are doing what Jesus is asking, and serving Him with our whole heart.
For many of us, leaving the message of William Branham was one time wherein we abandoned our will and followed Jesus. It would have been far easier to stay put in the safe and secure churches and communities that exist around the message--but when we realized that God was calling us out and revealing more of Himself to us, we could no longer stay put.
I remember well the moment where I gave it up into God's hands--I was praying over various things I was studying, and I realized that until I gave it into the hands of God and allowed Him room to move and change my heart, I was going to remain stagnant and in spiritual turmoil. So I prayed, and I told the Lord that He could have my theology and change it, and make it whatever He desired. I wasn't going to keep my sacred cows anymore, and I wasn't going to cling to the things I thought I knew. I put my fear out on the table, and I let Him have it all.
A year and a half later, I still believe that was my "garden of Gethsemane" moment. That was one of the few times in my life that following the Lord was desperately painful. Many people have more of these moments than me, but thus far in my life that was one of the major moments when I knew I was starting on a path with the Lord that would be full of trials--but I did it anyway. By God's Grace, despite all the pain leaving the message, I am 100% sure that I did what God wanted me to do, and He has been faithful with all that I laid at His feet.
I say all of this for a purpose: Jesus alone died for our sins. He alone is able to bare the weight of sin and come out victorious over it, and in His infinite mercies has extended to us the benefits of his victory over sin and death. God wants us to follow Him, and He is able to use those that are yielded fully to Him--but we must first understand that God's way is not our way, and that His plans are not our plans. We, like the Lord Jesus, must put our wills on the backburner and allow the Will of God to rule in us.