With all the craze of social networks, the phrase “follow us” is probably seen at least a dozen times daily. You don’t have to be on the internet either: labels on food, ads on billboards, posters in windows, or even the audio blurb “follow us on ____.” Now, I’m not saying the emergence of this phrase is a bad thing. Rather, I see it as a beautiful thing but probably for different reasons than others. When someone clicks the toggle, the follower just told the world that he found something of worth, whoever or whatever it is. Ok, so maybe we’re not talking earth-shattering partnerships every time a user decides to access a resource’s or person’s media feed; nevertheless, any communications analyst will attest that when someone chooses to “follow,” a more intense and consistent relationship is established between the source and the receiver. It is loyalty.
Until the last decade and the breakthrough of Twitter, the biblical phrase “follow me” had no bridge of meaning. That is, before social media started using “follow me,” those words were rarely used in modern vernacular. Ancient society used the phrase, though. In Jesus’ day, when a master teacher asked you to follow him, it was an honour. The pupil was known as a “disciple/follower of _____” from then on. In the days of the Rennaisance, when a master tradesman or artist, especially a painter, took on a student, the Master received credit for the student’s learning and accomplishments. Martial arts is no exception. Before becoming a student of the Master’s Kung Fu, a prospective student would traditionally present himself and plead to be accepted. Yet, until Twitter and company, “follow me” had no modern application. Albeit, the modern version is weaker than it’s predecessors. When applied to Christianity, a follower is a disciple, and a disciple is a learner or student. As He did in the days when He physically walked the earth, Christ (by His Spirit) is still inviting everyone to learn from Him by the phrase “Follow Me.” Anyone who will learn from Christ’s word is his disciple. Yet, there is a distinction between being a disciple and being adopted into God’s family. Though there is great honour in learning from Jesus, that cannot be compared to having Jesus make His spiritual residence within your soul. It is one thing to have a world class coach guiding you from the sidelines, but it is far better to have the perfect champion placed within you.
The Twelve Disciples immediately responded to Jesus’ invitation that they follow Him. They journeyed with Him for the next 3 years until He was crucified for the sins of mankind, especially yours and mine. During those 3 years, they heard him teach and even obeyed Him. However, some of them did not place trust in Him as THE Son of God, the Ruler of Heaven and Earth (much more the Deliverer from sin and judgment) until they had been with Him for 2.5 years. Thomas refused to believe until he should physically feel the wounds Christ’s resurrection body bears. He eventually did just that and said, “My Lord and my God” for the first time. Until the other disciples believed like Thomas (confessing Him as his own Master AND his own God) they were merely learning of Him. The purpose of all their learning, however, was to bring them to see Jesus as He is and count on Him for redemption and eternal pardon. It is the same for anyone who follows Jesus.
Unless you, the reader, should think the Disciples ceased to be followers of Jesus after placing trust in Him as Messiah, let me add a few last words. Disciples who have not believed the revelation of Jesus as the Son of God, the Savior of all men, are still disciples. They are following and learning. But, greater yet is the fact that a disciple who has believed continues to follow and learn Jesus as a disciple should. That one has the Master inside and goes on learning Him for all eternity, never separated!