The great theme this morning is “Following Jesus”
I’ve said before that never does Jesus actually say in the New Testament “worship me” which some may find surprising, but he says “Follow me” many, many, times.
Our O.T. reading seems to have been selected on the basis that it was the call of Elisha to follow in Elijah’s footsteps.
Over time Elijah came to represent the prophetic tradition as a whole and significantly when Jesus was transfigured he was seen speaking to Moses, representing the law and Elijah, representing the prophets. and Jesus was of course the fulfilment of the law and the prophets.
Paul in Galatians speaks of the kind of character a follower of Christ is expected to exhibit.
Great play is made by Christians that we enjoy freedom in Christ, and we do, but Paul says sagely - don’t misunderstand. Freedom in Christ doesn’t mean you can do whatever you like – that is not freedom – that is licence where you imagine you can do whatever you want despite the consequences for others and particularly yourself.
Immoral behaviour will harm yourself as well as others. Paul says ,” everything might be possible for me, but not everything is edifying”.
We have to keep in step with the Spirit and be imitators of Christ. Those who ignore this simple fact or teach others to do the same lie outside of the Kingdom of God.
Being a follower of Christ entails being an imitator of Christ. We should be working to take on his characteristics.
And in Luke’s gospel we hear Jesus say directly that following Jesus is costly and has to be our top priority. There is no time for looking back over our shoulders. In another place Jesus says, you should count the cost of following Jesus before you commit as it is not an easy option.
In one of his most enigmatic sayings he tells one man “Let the dead bury their own dead”.
What can he possibly mean?
Well the people he is referring to are very much physically alive but are spiritually dead, unregenerate, not "born again" as Jesus says you have to be to see the Kingdom of God.
Don’t waste too much time with people who are spiritually dead. Don’t be forever casting your pearls before swine. Once you have made your decision your first loyalty is to Christ. There is a small burden to bear (Matthew 11:30) but my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
So as followers of Jesus we need to be spiritually fit and committed. We need to develop our spiritual muscles through engagement with prayer, Bible study and engagement with the Christian community which is the body of Christ.
The more we do that the more we are pleasing to God, the more we start to follow Jesus by acting on our faith by putting our hand to the plough and not looking back, the more we grow and the more the church grows.