For the past couple of days, I haven’t been able to move beyond the first few sentences of Matthew 5. The Message puts it this way, “When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:” (Matthew 5:1-2). The NASB phrases it this way, “When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying…”
I can’t help but wonder, “What are we willing to sacrifice to follow the best of the best; to follow Jesus?” Likely the climb Jesus made to get away from the crowd wasn’t easy. I doubt He was popular for trying to get away from them either. Can’t we just hear the crowds begging Him to stay with them, “Wait Jesus, where are You going? How are we supposed to get up there? Why don’t you stay down here with us? More of us can hear You down here. Jesus, stay!” But Jesus didn’t. He went somewhere where people had to figure out a way to follow Him.
The message Jesus wanted to preach He only wanted those who truly wanted to follow Him anywhere He went, to hear. It turned out to be one of the greatest messages of all time. Those who chose not to follow Him wouldn’t have known what they missed at the time. Jesus didn’t shame them, didn’t chastise them, didn’t rebuke them. Jesus did not make them feel bad for choosing not to follow Him. But those that followed Jesus wherever He went (we don’t even know that Jesus invited them to follow, He just went and they went after Him…) got in on some of the most amazing life-changing teaching and miracles that would shape generations to come.
How far are we willing to go to follow Jesus? Are we hoping to stay in the comfortable places, like the crowd? Are we hoping Jesus will always come to us, where we are? (He will never leave us nor forsake us, but Jesus is also always on the move…) Or are we willing to follow Him to potentially uncomfortable places whether or not we know what’s in store there?
And then WHAT IF Jesus intentionally leads us away from the crowds, the public spotlight where everyone can see us, to isolated places, will we still follow Him then? But what if no one else will get to know what Jesus wants to tell us, show us, reveal to us…is it worth it if no one else knows…? Is it worth following Jesus if He calls us away from the crowd?
What might it be like if we would be the kind of followers who are too afraid to miss what Jesus might say or do to stay behind…?