Follow (Week 1): Respond to Jesus’ Invitation!

KEY VERSES:  Mark 1:17 & 1 John 2:6       Big Word #2 is “FOLLOW!” [opening illustration: Have you ever played follow the leader?]   We have learned the importance of why God GATHERS us. We are His Church—the ones who have been gathered by God’s grace, out of the world and into a peculiar community of God’s people. We come by an invitation…an invitation to FOLLOW!   Who are we to follow? To whose invitation are we responding?

  • A pastor, a worship leader, a personality or a style…
  • A group of friends… A cultural (tribal) pressure…
  • A denomination or brand loyalty… Family and tradition…
  • A cause to champion… A bandwagon to jump on…

We are invited to FOLLOW JESUS CHRIST! Listen to Jesus’ invitation to FOLLOW:

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men'” (Mark 1:17)  

How are we to follow Jesus?

This is Jesus’ invitation to become His disciple/apprentice/learner. Jesus’ call to those original fishermen was pretty obvious. Jesus stood there and looked them in the eyes… in response they dropped their nets and followed Jesus, meaning they walked where He walked, learned what He taught, ate what He ate, and tried to do what He did. A disciple is a person who FOLLOWS Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Lord and Savior.
 
What does following Jesus mean for us today in our everyday lives? The key verse for “BIG WORD #2: FOLLOW!” is 1 John 2:6, “By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:5b, 6).  
 
To follow is to be on a journey with Jesus. In the church, we call this journey discipleship. Discipleship is simply the process of becoming… of being under construction… Discipleship is a life-long journey of a person following Jesus to become more and more like Jesus Christ from the inside out. The invitation of Jesus Christ is to “Follow Me” and the promise of Jesus is that He will transform us along the way. It’s His promise to complete the work that He has begun (Philippians 1:6). That is the promise of the Holy Spirit at work!
 
To FOLLOW Jesus is to be a part of the Great Commission in today’s world. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’”
 
We follow Jesus Christ in response to who He is and the authority of WHO is inviting! This morning I have 3 I-M words in response to 3 of Jesus’s “I AM” declarations. Following Jesus is a CALL and RESPONSE:
 

CALL #1: Jesus calls in John 14:6

I AM the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”  
 

RESPONSE #1: IMPUTATION.

By God’s grace, FOLLOWING is an intentional journey that begins with IMPUTATION. Through faith in Jesus Christ, His righteousness is imputed (transferred, credited) upon the believer which takes a person that once was separated from God because of their sin and now makes them right in God’s eyes. How? By grace through faith! Paul says in Romans 3:22, “even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe” and again in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
 
Imputation would be the power of a family name giving you respect regardless of whether you personally have earned it. Oh, you are a Kennedy. You give them credit… Or when your son or daughter calls you broke from college and you transfer money from your account into her account. It’s now her money to use. You transferred it to her account. Imputation is all gift! It’s something given to you, credited to your account. Counted as yours!
 
The Great Commission begins with our being made right before God (imputed righteousness) and it continues with a journey of imitation…
 

CALL #2:  Jesus calls in John 8:12,

I AM the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
 

RESPONSE #2: IMITATION:

Empowered by the Holy Spirit who is given to you at the moment God imputes His righteousness on you, FOLLOWING is an intentional journey of IMITATION: Paul commanded in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”
 
To imitate someone means to examine their life and to do what they do. It has been said that the greatest form of flattery is imitation! It is so sweet to watch a son want to be like his father in every way: dress, walk, talk…
 
Do you want people to know you are a Christian? Then be His disciple and imitate Him! Be baptized as Jesus was baptized. Pray to God as Jesus prayed to His Father in Heaven. Trust God as Jesus put His very life in His Father’s hands. Resist temptation with the Word of God as Jesus defeated the Devil’s temptations with the Word of God. Learn and obey all that Jesus commanded; examine the way Jesus walked on the earth and how He taught His disciples to live their lives. Walk as Jesus walked—as a light to the world!
 
Jesus very overtly commanded us to imitate Him. Just as He says “I AM the Light of the world,” He says to His disciples in Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
 
The Great Commission is meant to be reproduced into every generation. The gospel is passed through who you are and how you live before others. Imputation and imitation leads to you to pass it on through impartation…
 

CALL #3: Jesus calls in John 15:1-4,

I AM the True Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”
 

RESPONSE #3: IMPARTATION:

Empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit flowing through you, FOLLOWING is an intentional journey of IMPARTATION: Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, “Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.”
 
To impart to someone means to pass on to them what has been given to you. You are to impart the life of Christ into other people by allowing God to bear good fruit on your branch. There is a transference that happens, a giving of the life in you. Impartation is what I do constantly: preaching is a passing on to you what I have studied and learned just like a graduation speaker seeks to impart wisdom onto the graduates as they enter the next season of their life. Impartation is in word and deed, Christianity is caught more than it is taught!
 
Do you want people to know the Jesus who loved you and saved you and gave you new life? Go and impart the new life of Jesus to them.. We are gathered to be scattered! As Jesus commanded His disciples in Matthew 10:7-8, “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.”
 
Between now and Thanksgiving we are going to look at the way Jesus lived His life so that we can know how to impart to others what has been freely given to us. Each of us is invited to commit ourselves to follow Jesus by imitating His way of life in order to impart to others what Christ first gave us.
 
Remember, God gathers us as His Church to know Jesus so that we can be scattered to help others know Jesus as their Lord. We have been invited to FOLLOW Jesus, to walk like He walked… Who are you following?

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