Word of the Month

The path of humbleness and obedience

November 2010

The Gospel of Matthew describes how the Lord Jesus called His first disciples to follow Him. The brothers James and John were at work. They were in a boat, mending nets with their father. Then Jesus came up to them and called upon them to follow Him (cf. Matthew 4: 21). They left everything without hesitation and followed the Lord. Scripture reports of many incidents in which Jesus called upon people to follow Him – and today too He calls upon us to follow Him. While Jesus was on earth His disciples were very close to Him and stayed with Him all the time. But He is no longer here in person, so how can we follow Him? This image of the boat, which the disciples left behind, is to be understood on a spiritual level. The boat is a metaphor for spiritual fellowship. Those who seek to follow the Lord Jesus must leave one or the other thing behind. One of these things is unbelief and doubt: many people do not believe in Jesus Christ. And they certainly do not believe that the Lord Jesus reveals Himself in His servants today. When they are called to follow Jesus, they must first abandon the boat of unbelief.

Another boat in our days is the boat of personal opinions. Many people have their own firmly held opinions and say: “I will not accept anything but what I think.” This is particularly true with regard to future-oriented things and spiritual matters. Such people prefer to persist in their own theories and ideas, and are not prepared to follow. We cannot insist on our own ideas, however. Rather let us be prepared to follow the Lord Jesus.

There is something else that could bind us and prevent us from following, namely hopelessness and despair. Let us get out of this boat and follow the Lord Jesus! Children of God have no reason to despair, but every reason to hope.

There is another boat which carries those who only strive for natural things and who have no interest in spiritual matters. If we want to follow the Lord, we must get out of this boat to strive for – and reach – our eternal goal. So let us leave this boat and follow the Lord Jesus.

There is another aspect to following. One must take the same direction as the person one is following. The path of the Lord has two notable characteristics: it is the path of humbleness and obedience. To follow the Lord we must take this path of remaining humble and continually heeding the word of God. It is easy to say that we are humble toward God. But showing humbleness toward others is more difficult by far. Even in this respect the Lord Jesus was our example: He even washed the feet of His disciples. Let us look to His example and likewise be humble.

There is another thing that is important when following someone. One must be careful not to let any distance grow, because following at a distance is not possible.  Let us stay close to the Lord! We can accomplish this by attending the divine services, by being close to Him in prayer, and by having fellowship with one another and with God’s servants, particularly the Apostles. Let us always remain very close to Him. When He returns to take His own unto Himself, those who have followed Him will not be left behind but will instead be with Him eternally. That is the goal for which we strive!

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)