When I look at the first followers of that man from Nazareth, I see all sorts of reasons for their initial reactions to him. Some followed him because he was perhaps the first person to really see them as a person (Levi at the tax table). Some were shocked by how clear he made things, telling them in love, not in judgement, that they need to change their ways – and then showing them how. Some were amazed and enthralled by what he could do, others by what he said and how he said it (on a mountain, in a boat, in or on the water). Some saw all the people following and followed because of all the people following – it must be something interesting if so many followed, right? But why did these people keep following him?
Remember when Jesus said some hard things? He often said hard things, since he was quite clear and challenging in what was necessary. He didn’t waste time bantering about this-and-that, although he always spoke sincerely and with love. But there came a time when a whole slew of his followers up and left him (John 6). They couldn’t handle it any more. Maybe the shine or the fun or the newness had rubbed off and reality started to settle in – this guy was serious! Maybe the message simply came too close to home (his messages always do). Whatever it was, they left.
But some still stayed. Even after he was captured and they ran away – they still stayed. Even when they thought all was lost, they still wondered how they were to continue, wanting to stay (remember the guys on the road to Emmaus?). Why? Some had figured out that, even if they didn’t understand him completely, he had shown that he was true and worth following. Some who had started with amazement, had progressed through discussing and come to a realization of what he was saying. Some were beginning to understand who he really was and wouldn’t dare leave, even if they might have thought about it at one time.
Why did you start following Jesus? Do you remember? What made you want to listen to him, know more about him and follow him? And why do you still follow him? Or… if you do not, why not? How has your relationship changed? Do you feel like you are a follower (a disciple) or are you simply following (like a twitterer)? I would really like to know.