Will You Still Follow If…

Would you still follow Jesus in devoted discipleship if you knew that it would cost you everything, including your life?

“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.” Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me!” (John 21:18–19)

When Jesus initially called Peter into discipleship, he, being Jesus, said, “Follow Me.” “And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19). This would not be the only time Jesus instructed Peter to follow Him. 

Peter and the other disciples responded by following Jesus for 3 years throughout Galilee and Judea. Although they were physically in the presence of the Lord, their devotion wavered from time to time, and they struggled with their faith. They were still so young in their discipleship relationship with Christ. 

Jesus’ second call to Peter would come post-resurrection. In John 21, we see how just how He revisited Peter’s calling. Again, He said, “Follow me!” He also prophesied that Peter would be persecuted and die a martyr’s death. 

If this word was spoken over you, would you still follow?

Peter denied Jesus, yes, but after this encounter, he would never deny Him again. Jesus called Peter to follow Him and the disciple obeyed. Remarkably, Peter would live and serve God for close to three decades with this prophecy hanging over him. 

Indeed, Peter eventually lost his freedom and life. In fact, by the time of John’s writing, Jesus’ prediction had been fulfilled. Peter glorified God through his martyrdom in Rome under Emperor Nero. Tradition and the writings of Tertullian (212 AD), an early Christian author from Carthage, state that Peter was bound to a cross upside down and crucified. 

In more recent years, the account of Jim Elliot, an evangelical Christian from Portland, stands out. He was one of five missionaries killed while participating in Operation Auca – an attempt to evangelize to the Huaorani people of Ecuador. Elliot once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” Elliot was aware of the dangers of the mission field, yet he went anyway. Why? Because Jim Elliot was devoted to following Jesus; because his love for Jesus and his calling to teach the Gospel were more important than his life. 

So, would you follow Jesus if you knew that your devotion would cost you everything? Including your family, friends, livelihood, even your life? The apostle Peter and Jim Elliot both considered it a blessing and duty to glorify Jesus to the end. How do you bring glory to Jesus? How do you make God smile? 

Pastor Cary Wacker

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