Jesus calls us to a deeply devoted, transformative type of following, one that is ultimately expressed in agape love for God and others.
Of course, that doesn’t mean there won’t be bumps along the way. Simon Peter knows this well. On the night of Jesus’ trial, Simon denied him three times. And in John 21, there is a poignant episode where the resurrected Christ confronts Simon Peter, asking him three times, “Simon, do you love me?” Are you deeply devoted to me? Surely those words stung Peter, calling to mind the three times he denied Jesus, even cursing as he said, “I do not know the man!”
So it is fitting, then, on this side of the resurrection that Jesus would ask him three times, “Simon, do you love me?” And each time, Simon tearfully replies, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Three denials. “I don’t know the man.”
Three affirmations. “Lord, you know that I love you.”
There’s a symmetry of grace here that is poignant and beautiful.
We’re meant to relate to Simon Peter here, because who among us has not at one time denied Christ’s lordship? Who among us has not been in that place of decision much like Peter, that crossroads moment? And when we were pressed, we replied, “I don’t know him. He’s not my Lord.” No, we’re more like Simon Peter than we care to admit.
And yet, despite all of this that is between them, despite Simon’s weakness and failures, Jesus replies to Peter with the same call he issued to him all those years ago. John 21:19, And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
The call to follow Jesus is constant and consistent. Even when we fall short – not if we fall short, but when we fall short – Jesus continues to call us in grace with these age-old words: Follow me.
The last call is the first. Call and grace ebb and flow.
Some of us have been following behind Jesus for so long that we’ve forgotten what our former lives even looked like. His transformative power has taken root so deeply that all we’ve known for a long time is the joy that comes from following Jesus. So it seems that John Maxwell is wrong. Everything does not rise and fall on leadership. What matters is following. And in particular, who you follow. Following Jesus changes everything. And his call is constant and consistent: Follow me.
Some of us received this call long ago, but like Simon Peter, we have stumbled in our following. More times than we care to admit, we’ve let Him down. We’ve declared to the world, “I don’t know Jesus. He’s not my Lord.” And yet, despite all of this, His call to us is constant and consistent. There is nothing you have done that He has not already forgiven
millions billions of times over. He stands today with the same constant and consistent call on your life: Follow me.
And some of us have never accepted this call. Some of us continue to go our own way, pridefully assuming we can handle it on our own. But I suspect that in the quiet moments, when it’s just you and your own thoughts, you know deep down that you can’t. You know how tired you are of trying to figure it out on your own. You’ve heard his call and you’ve kept Him at arms length. No matter. His call on your life is constant and consistent. His call to you today is just as it has always been. Follow me.
This is your identity.
You are one who has been called by Jesus.
And He says, “Follow me.”