The Lord Jesus Christ had used those words when He called Peter, Andrew, James, John, the tax collector Matthew to be His disciples (Matthew 4:19-20, 9:9). “And immediately they left their nets, and followed Him”. These disciples immediately detached themselves from personal interests and attached to Christ. Implied in the call of Jesus was a turning from sin to Him in order to be saved. Again after Jesus had risen from the dead, while the disciples were on a fishing trip, Jesus told Peter, “Follow Me” (John 21:19). These words were not just for the twelve disciples; they are also for us today. Discipleship means following Jesus in a personal way, and it is a call to obedience, not a mere invitation. The early disciples came to Jesus straightway, at all cost, without a question. They also came to quit old habits, to follow their leader without stipulation or reserve; they came in an act of simple trust in Christ. It is impossible to follow Jesus without trusting Him. If we do not follow we are not committed to Him. We are following our own goals or someone else’s. The call to follow Jesus also means to submit to His lordship, to come and die with Him, to deny self and take up our cross and follow Jesus. “….For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it” (Matt. 16:24-25). Hence will you follow Jesus today in a life of obedient faith?
Why would Jesus say “Follow Me”? When Jesus saw “Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:18-19). Therefore following Jesus means to drop everything and follow Him, no matter what it costs. That doesn’t mean you quit your job and leave your family, but that does mean you seek first the kingdom and His righteousness (Matt 6:33), and that is found in the King of the kingdom, Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). The call is to join the army of King Jesus to build a new kingdom of righteousness and truth, faith and love, a kingdom for the redeemed.
Jesus expects total loyalty and obedience from His followers. Jesus calls us His disciples but we call ourselves Christians. Today being a Christian has become a fairly generic term. For some, it might simply mean that “I’m not a Jew”, “I’m not a Muslim”, “I’m not an atheist”, etc. Satan loves that people think living a Christian culture equates to living as a Christian. Therefore consider the young man that came to Jesus asking, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16-22). Jesus said unto him, (and unto us), “If thou will be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shall have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me”. The young man went away sorrowful because he had great possessions.
The call to follow Jesus is always ringing to every ear and a few people are responding to the call in their different ways. Some after receiving this invitation from Jesus will retreat to a prayer mountain for further instruction and strength from the Lord Jesus. Right there on the mountain, Satan is there too. At that high mountain, some of these would-be followers of Jesus would be shown endless stress of forest and they may start to pray so that the endless forest can be turned to a cluster of modern cities, with mansions of worshipping centres across the globe and golden streets. A few others would ask for the Promise of the Father and His power. Jesus was equally tempted by Satan when Satan carried Jesus to an exceedingly high mountain to show Jesus all the kingdoms of the World and the glory of them. Others may refuse the invitation to follow Jesus. Abraham sent his servant to look for a wife for Isaac his son in his former country. The servant asked Abraham, “Peradventure the woman will not be willing to Follow Me”. Abraham said, “Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again”, Genesis 24:5-6. We can’t force people to follow Jesus but we must not go back to them to live our old life again.
Prophet TB Joshua teaches frequently that faith shouldn’t be based on immediate physical improvement after prayers. Rather whether Jesus heals or not, whether the ministry has the largest congregation or not, whether the call is to serve in the city or the rural area, as long as we have the promised presence of the Holy Ghost, our ministry will be a success. Further, Prophet TB Joshua has reduced all the existing “Christian Ministries” to two; those who follow Jesus but using today’s carnal language and those who use the Bible spiritual language. Everyone should self-assess how he or she is following Jesus and what provisions needed from Jesus. Jesus will provide all our need, according to His riches in glory, to everyone He calls to the field.
As we anticipate the 57th Birthday of Prophet TB Joshua June 12, 2020, our aim is not to further promote SCOAN or TB Joshua, but to let us pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to equip us to follow Jesus in the fullness of his power. The prophet also had prophesied that the work of God would suffer after the ongoing COVID-19. Nevertheless, we know that Jesus left us with a passing glorious Promise saying, “But ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost comes upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me …, (Acts 1:8). Hence Jesus is calling us to be partaking in changing individuals, nations and the entire world. This mission is the same motto that the Synagogue Church of All Nations of Prophet TB Joshua has set for itself. Emmanuel!!!
Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria