“If you keep My commands, you will stay in My love – just as I have kept My Father’s commands and stay in His love. I have said this to you so that My joy may be in you, and your joy be complete.” (Yochanan 15:10-11)
In my last post, we introduced the commands of Yeshua from the perspective of Yeshua as Lord. We looked at His command to “deny ourselves” and to “take up His yoke and learn from Him.” In this post, we will look at His command to “follow me” and “you have heard our fathers were told…but I tell to you.”
Yeshua as Lord ~ Part B
“Yeshua said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers for men!” (Matthew 4:19)
“But Yeshua replied, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:22)
“My sheep listen to my voice, I recognize them, they follow me.” (Yochanan 10:27)
“Shim‘on Kefa said to him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Yeshua answered, ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow later.’” (Yochanan 13:36)
3. Follow Me
Being a follower of Yeshua is no easy task, but following Yeshua is what being a Believer is all about. It is important to examine exactly what follow means. It is so much more than intellectual assent or agreement in principle with the teachings of Yeshua. It is more than living a life that is generally in line with His values and philosophy. The disciples did not just “follow” Yeshua’s teachings; they actually got up from where they were, left their livelihoods as tax collectors and fishermen, and literally followed wherever He went.
Many people want to “follow” Yeshua’s example by being nice to others and morally good, but they want to live their lives on their own terms regardless of any expectations the One they call their Lord and Savior may have. Such people set their own terms for their discipleship and have not taken the time to investigate what Yeshua’s expectations are for those who follow Him; nor have they counted the cost. Anyone who tried to follow Yeshua on his or her own terms in the Bible was a disappointment to Yeshua and not worthy of being one of His followers. Whenever there is an “I will, but …,” there is a halfhearted disciple. Yeshua was going one direction, and they were intent on first going a completely opposite direction.
These passages from Matthew are illustrative of a halfhearted disciple:
- “And anyone who does not take up his execution-stake and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)
- “Then Yeshua told his talmidim, “If anyone wants to come after me, let him say ‘No’ to himself, take up his execution-stake, and keep following me.” (Matthew 16:24)
Those who do not follow Yeshua on Yeshua’s terms are not truly following Yeshua at all. They are perhaps investigating Yeshua, or admiring Yeshua, or studying Yeshua, or curious about Yeshua, but the commitment to follow Him is not there. Yeshua showed such an amazing love for us, and yet people can be so unloving to their own family members. It is rarely necessary to abandon or turn our backs on our family and friends in order to follow Yeshua; we need to be Yeshua’s ambassadors and God’s agents of reconciliation to draw them to Yeshua with the same love that drew us. “Yeshua’s love compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14 HCSB) to treat and speak to everyone just as He would treat and speak to them.
To follow Yeshua may mean leaving your present vocation (as it did Kefa, James, Yochanan, Matthew, and the other disciples), adjusting your own dreams and personal goals to be in line with His will (as in the life of Sha’ul), and taking on challenges you never before considered.
Remember, whether it means leaving everyone and everything you have known or returning back to your own family and colleagues, Yeshua sets the terms, not us, of what following Him means. Don’t assume that your following of Yeshua will look like other followers around you.
Application: Are you sure that you are truly following Yeshua, or are you simply curious or investigating Yeshua? Can you look back over your life to see where you have had to leave certain things, change your priorities, or reorient your goals to bring them in line with where Yeshua was going in your life? If you can see no significant difference from before you met Yeshua until now, you have good reason to ask whether you are truly following Him or He has gone on ahead without you.
4. You Have Heard That Our Fathers Were Told … but I Tell to You
This frequent statement in Matthew is one of my favorite teaching tools of Yeshua. In it He ratifies the commands of the Tanakh but breaks down the walls that the P’rushim had built up around God’s Word. “You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you not to stand up against someone who does you wrong. On the contrary, if someone hits you on the right cheek, let him hit you on the left cheek too!” (Matthew 5:38-39)
This command is included in a series of exhortations Yeshua left with His people. He first provides us with the traditional views of how people related to others:
- “You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Do not murder,’ and that anyone who commits murder will be subject to judgment.” (Matthew 5:21)
- “You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Do not commit adultery.’” (Matthew 5:27)
- “It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a get [certificate of divorce].’” (Matthew 5:31)
- “Again, you have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Do not break your oath,’ and ‘Keep your vows to Adonai.’” (Matthew 5:33).
And then He gives us His corresponding version of how we are to relate to those around us:
- “But I tell you that anyone who nurses anger against his brother will be subject to judgment; that whoever calls his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing!’ will be brought before the Sanhedrin; that whoever says, ‘Fool!’ incurs the penalty of burning in the fire of Gei-Hinnom!” (Matthew 5:22)
- “But I tell you that a man who even looks at a woman with the purpose of lusting after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
- “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, makes her an adulteress; and that anyone who marries a divorcee commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:32)
- “But I tell you not to swear at all — not ‘by heaven,’ because it is God’s throne; not ‘by the earth,’ because it is his footstool; and not ‘by Yerushalayim,’ because it is the city of the Great King. And don’t swear by your head, because you can’t make a single hair white or black. Just let your ‘Yes’ be a simple ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ a simple ‘No’; anything more than this has its origin in evil.” (Matthew 5:34-37)
We must rise above the ordinary and traditional views of being politically correct or socially responsible and take on Yeshua’s much more comprehensive behaviors and attitudes. We are measured by a different standard, not simply by visible adherence to a law or rule but by the inner attitudes of love and grace. When we entered into His kingdom, we joined a new team; we became “a chosen people, the King’s cohanim, a holy nation, a people for God to possess! Why? In order for you to declare the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Kefa 2:9). We can no longer live a “business as usual” existence. Our objectives and purpose in life have been radically altered forever. To try to live our own life with our own goals and our own priorities flies in the face of Yeshua, who gave His life for us so that He might now live through us.
Application: Have you accepted Yeshua’s standard of conduct for His people? Have you acquiesced to His expectations for you personally? Your answer to these questions reveals whether Yeshua is truly your Lord. When Yeshua’s commands become integrated into your lives to the point that they become a part of your nature, you will not only begin reflecting Yeshua to others, but He will be accomplishing His work through you on the earth.
Remember always the words of Yeshua: “If you love me, you will keep my commands.” (Yochanan 14:15)
In my next post, we will continue to examine additional commands of Yeshua in this category of Yeshua as Lord.