What is a Follower?
Background Story: Jesus has been healing the sick everywhere. People keep following Him everywhere He goes for all sorts of reasons. In this story, He is teaching in a home.
Read: Luke 5:17-26
17 One day while Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law were sitting nearby. (It seemed that these men showed up from every village in all Galilee and Judea, as well as from Jerusalem.) And the Lord’s healing power was strongly with Jesus.
18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, 19 but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.”
21 But the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to themselves, “Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”
22 Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? 23 Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? 24 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man[a] has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”
25 And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, “We have seen amazing things today!”
Big Idea: Not everyone who follows Jesus follows Jesus
As we read Luke 5:17-26, we see different groups of people “following” Jesus physically. But were all the people who followed Jesus actually followers of Jesus? Let’s take a look at each group to see application to our own life.
1- Pharisees or Religious People: This group of “religious leaders” were not there to learn from Jesus. They thought they knew better and their hearts weren’t teachable. They grew up in the Jewish faith and had developed arrogant and prideful hearts. Similarly, growing up in church does not make a person a follower of Christ. Church can be part of a person’s culture or family tradition. But a Christian (or follower of Christ) isn’t someone who has a religious tradition of attending church. A Christian is a person who has recognized they are a sinner in need of a Savior, and they choose to put their faith and trust in Jesus. A religious tradition without a revelation of Jesus is dangerous! This person can become self-righteous believing themselves to be better than the “sinners” outside the church and completely miss their need for a Savior.
2- Crowd: Jesus was a celebrity. Before tv, social media, and YouTube, people flocked to see Jesus’ miracles. They were there for the experience, the feeling, and the hopeful message. But even as they saw Jesus’ mighty works, many of these “followers” had no revelation that this man was the Messiah. We can go to youth group or conferences, scream delight at Christian bands, and post Bible verses to Instagram. But do these things alone make us a true follower of Jesus? Jesus said in Matthew 13:20-21 that some “hear the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” Being a follower of Jesus requires us to get real… away from the lights and the emotions… where we pursue to know Jesus and follow Him in “Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
3- Friends: The friends who came with the sick man were there for only one purpose… their friend needed an encounter with Jesus and they recognized that Jesus was the only solution. There is a longing in a follower of Christ to bring the lost, the broken, and the sick to the feet of Jesus. This longing arises from the simple truth that we were once that broken man on the mat without hope. We looked up from our place of brokenness to the face of the Messiah to find forgiveness and restoration. This truth creates a longing to share from the love and grace we received.
In response, today let’s take time to pray that we would be followers of our Savior. That we wouldn’t just follow in proximity for the experience, but that we pursue our Savior to know Him and make Him known.