“Following Jesus is a wonderfully unique adventure; one that rarely ever looks the same for each of us. We can never be quite sure exactly where it will take us. Therefore, we must stay close behind him. We must listen carefully and watch closely. For at times following him may mean going and at others it may mean staying. At times following him may mean speaking and at others it may mean remaining silent. At times following him may mean initiating and at others it may mean waiting. It is a wild and unpredictable journey. It is a journey that requires us to pay careful attention to his voice and his movement. So let us, each day, make time and space to be with him. Otherwise we might totally miss the adventure he has marked out for us.” —Jim Branch, May, 2016
Branch, Jim. The Blue Book: A Devotional Guide for Every Season of Your Life (Kindle Locations 2014-2019). Kindle Edition.
“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me and be my disciple,’ Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.” [Mat 9:9 NLT]
Why do I follow Jesus?
In my sophomore year of Bible College I had become angry at God about the pain, suffering, and evil in the world. How could God allow it? Why did God not stop it? This became a spiritual cancer to my soul and spread into my whole soul. I would go to the beach and scream questions and angry accusations at God for hours. This problem consumed me.
I actively sought to abandon my Christian faith and become an atheist/agnostic.
But then there was Jesus blocking the way.
Jesus was not a philosophical idea but a real historical human being. The New Testament was a real historical witness which even if rejected as holy Scripture, could not be ignored as early testimony about this man Jesus. The New Testament documents were historically reliable ( see F.F. Bruce; are the New Testament Documents Reliable? http://minnehahachurch.org/
Library/06Writing/NTDocuments- Reliable-Bruce.pdf )
These realities then ran me directly into the problem of the resurrection.
I could not overcome the historical witness of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, without committing intellectual suicide. It seemed absurd to become less logical in order to become an atheist since it was suppose to be logic that was leading me away from being a Christian.
In brief form the argument for the resurrection is as follows:
The resurrection of Jesus was an essential part of the early creed of Christianity and not added later (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; historically written by the Apostle Paul in about 56 AD and quoting an early creed that dates back to his visit to Jerusalem which dates it at 36 AD.)
The first witnesses of the resurrection were woman, which if the gospel accounts were just fiction at this point no one in the first century would have put into this document since the testimony of women was seen as nearly useless in both Jewish and Roman courts. This point to the authentic nature of this testimony.
There are 500 eye witnesses of Jesus being alive after his death. This is not normal in any type of hallucination. These encounters include not just seeing him, but talking to him, engaging in conversations, Jesus teaching to groups, the resurrect Messiah cooking breakfast, and even physical touch.
Those who gave testimony did not gain from telling others about what they had seen. This led to persecution, torture, and death to many of them. None of them recanted from their testimony. People will die for a lie but not for a lie that they know is a lie.
For a great summary of the evidence I would recommend seeing the 2017 film The Case For Christ about Lee Strobel’s search for evidence for the resurrection. ( https://www.amazon.com/Case-
Christ-Mike-Vogel/dp/ B074N96F1J/ref=sr_1_1?s= instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid= 1529230428&sr=1-1&keywords= case+for+christ+movie )
For a short summary of the evidence see (https://www.youtube.com/
So there I was, the risen Messiah Jesus was stopping me even as HE had stopped the Apostle Thomas from losing his faith.
“Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed [are] they who did not see, and [yet] believed.'” [John 20:27-29 NASB]
Then during a night of crisis and desperation in the midst of all my doubts and intellectual struggles. I had the most intense existential encounter with the risen and living Lord Jesus that I have ever had. So now I had intellectual arguments for acceptance of the Messiah Jesus being real and an even more intense experience in my own life telling me this was true.
Why do I followJesus?
Because Jesus is the Truth.
What about the problem of pain, suffering, and evil?
That was a much longer road of over five years of praying, study, and thinking.
Messiah Jesus became part of that answer as well. Because, God demonstrated in the incarnation that HE was willing to feel pain, suffer, and be the victim of evil in order to save us out of this troubled world. In Jesus, God has skin in the game.
The following summarizes my conclusion to that issue.
“I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, for all the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive, but to justify all that has happened.”
So why do I follow Jesus?
He is the evidence that God is committed to us and cares about our suffering.
If you don’t follow Jesus, do you have a good reason to reject HIS call to … “Follow me”?