Jim Johnson

She wanted to stop at the grocery store.  When it comes to food, I am highly motivated to eat it, inept at cooking it, and totally apathetic about shopping for it – but I love my wife, so I went along.  

She grabbed a cart and I grabbed my phone and began to follow her.  I was trying to text in my calorie count from dinner.  The app was aggravating, and I have the fine motor skills of an ape. To do all this while trying to follow my wife was torture, and yet more satisfying than searching for a can of cream of mushroom soup.

I kept her in my peripheral vision as we walked.  I didn’t want to accidentally wind up in the laxative aisle.   Back and forth she went, with me two steps behind, until we reached the rear of the store.  I hit the save button and pocketed my phone.

I then lifted my head and found myself nearly nose-to-nose with a bewildered Latino woman.  Her steely eyes were asking, “What kind of creep are you and why have you been trailing me for the last 5 minutes?”  (and by the way – you text like an ape) 

I was embarrassed.  I went and hid in the laxative aisle.

I lost the person I was following.  It happens!  It happened to Peter the apostle.

Jesus recruited him while fishing in the Sea of Galilee. It took a miraculous catch and the words, “Follow me” to move him from his boat to the ranks of the disciples.  For Peter to follow, he had to set aside his own agenda and make the person and the will and the work of Christ his top priority.    It meant dying to self and being with Him.

Peter followed fairly well, but he had his moments.  Just before Jesus made His ascent into heaven, the two of them were talking.  Peter was rebounding from a previous failure, so Jesus felt He needed to prepare him for the future.  He revealed that Peter would one day pay the ultimate price for his faith by execution.

And then, as if He knew that Peter would buck, He reiterated those familiar words, “Follow Me.”  (John 21:19)   Unfortunately, Peter didn’t hear them.  He stopped listening when heard the description of his death.  That would probably stop me too.

Peter didn’t want to die a martyr.  He was also greatly annoyed that Jesus made no such gruesome prediction about John who was his fellow disciple, former business partner and cousin.  “So when Peter saw (John), he asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?”  (John 21:21) NET Bible®

Peter lost Jesus.  His eyes were cast downward – he latched onto and began to follow his fear and envy instead.  

Jesus replied as if he were speaking to a 4-year-old. “If I want him to live until I come back, what concern is that of yours? You follow me!” (John 21:22) NET Bible®    Ouch!  Tough words.  “Peter, I want you to stop looking around at others and keep your eyes on me.   Don’t follow your heart, or your fears, or your passions, or your Facebook friend or anyone or anything else but Me.”

He expects no less of us!

Beware though! We live in a day where being a follower is reduced to subscribing to someone on social media – someone like Cristiano Ronaldo who holds the current record for the most Instagram followers – 150 million of them.  I think I should probably know who this is, but I don’t. (just Googled it.  He is a Portuguese pro soccer star who plays for an Italian team)

It’s really easy to “follow” Mr. Ronaldo.  No commitment required.  You don’t even have to read the things he posts.  Following Jesus, however, requires exactly what Jesus asked of Peter. “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24) NET Bible®

Take a moment to lift your head and look into the face of the person or thing that you have been following.  If it ain’t Jesus – you could hide in the laxative aisle or you could simply say “I’m sorry Lord.  May I join you again?

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A special treat: Bethany Bergman singing what has been my heart cry – Nothing More, Nothing Less, Nothing Else.  

Nothing More: Written by Jim Johnson. Vocals by Bethany Bergman