The call to follow Jesus is individual and universal. We each must hear His voice and respond to Him.
29:1 Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed [by the natural consequences of his actions]–without remedy.
After Jesus reinstated Peter into His ministry, He prophesied to Peter the kind of death by which he would glorify God. “Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21:18-19). This call is the same as when Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John at the beginning of His ministry (Matthew 4:19). Jesus is quoted using this same call several times in Scripture,
59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:89-60
9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. Matthew 9:9
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mark 10:21
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
As we can see, the call is universal. But, Peter had not yet been empowered by the Holy Spirit. He asked Jesus about John, “‘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.'” (John 21:21-22). From Jesus’ response, we see that the call is individual as well as universal. Each of us must:
- Hear the voice of Jesus calling;
- Choose to obey His voice;
- Follow Him regardless of what anyone else says or does (or does not do).
Our resolve comes from His call, and His love flows through us along with His peace and joy. His call gives us hope of better things to come, a hope that is based upon a relationship with the heavenly Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Have you heard His voice and chosen to follow Him? Thank Him for calling you to be His own!
Abba, I thank You for calling me 55 years ago to follow You. As much as any 6-year-old can, I determined to follow You with all my heart. I got a little side-tracked in the 7th-8th grades, but I heard You calling me back to You at Falls Creek the summer of my Freshman year. I have much in common with Peter in this respect. I sure am glad that You are a God of second chances (and thirds, and fourths, etc.). You never give up on us, do You? Praise You, O Lord! Amen.