I hear people at other forums use (the concept of following Jesus)..It just simply confuses me
Hi Adam! :)
I know what you mean about how so many speak of following Christ. I sang the song for years: “I have decided to follow Jesus…” It’s a biggie in most Christian venues. In the NASB all the references to following Jesus are found in the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; it doesn’t record Paul as using the word that way. Where the KJV has Paul writing, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”, it is a different Greek word. I think the most obvious meaning of “follow” as used in the gospel writings pertained to a literal following of Jesus as he was right there in the flesh.
Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” John 12:36
Now, while Jesus may have spoken of a different kind of following in the above statement, perhaps that of the heart or mind, I think Jesus was more directly referring to the fact that Peter would later follow Jesus in the same kind of death. He even told him the same thing after he rose from the dead.
Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, ‘Follow me!’ John 21:19
Now, Jesus did tell Peter to continue following him … all the way until his death (which did turn out to be on a cross after the likeness of Jesus). The concept of following still applied to him all the time in between. However, Peter having followed Jesus according to the flesh would come to see a whole new meaning after the Spirit came. Paul said, WE knew him after the flesh, but now no longer. The “we” would have included Peter who came to understand the miraculous union.
I think that there might be quite a mixed concept behind what many mean when they talk about following Jesus, though I suspect that a good majority are trying to capture a fleshly Jesus to follow.