Jesus’ call for those who would come after Him is both simple and profound, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.” The profound for most would be the self denial and the sacrifice of life, while the following seems uncomplicated. This simple calling becomes more clear as we read and learn that Jesus example in life and in death is a straight and narrow path with no deviations from the will of His Father. The call for us today who confess Christ as Lord is no different than it was in that day and we are called with a mandate to follow the example set by Christ.
And this call to follow, imitating the example of Christ is offered up again and again in the New Testament
John 13:15 For I have given you an example–you should do just as I have done for you
I Timothy 1:16 Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
1 Peter 2:21 For to this you were called, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving an example for you to follow in his steps.
Yet we also see the call to follow the example of others, whose lives are a shining reflection of what it means to follow Jesus example of being singularly consumed by the will of God.
Philippians 3:17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.
1 Timothy 4:12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.
Christians are called to follow the example set by Christ and one of the ways that we do this is to examine the lives of godly men who have made it their aim, by God’s grace, to follow Christ and imitate to degree their pattern of living. This is why I read biographies of godly men and pay close attention to the leading men of our day.
One of the leading men of our day is John Piper and I read this morning of his plans for the last years of his life. He announced that he is about to begin preaching through the Gospel of John and for an expositor this will mean years spent in study and preaching, as John’s gospel is one of the richest books in all of the Bible. But of all the reasons he gave for wanting to begin this sermon series this one stood out to me as a radiant example I long to follow.
I am 62 as we begin. So someone may ask, “Why start a series of messages on the fourth-longest book in the New Testament? Do you want to die in this book?” I cannot think of a better place to die… I am hungry for Christ. I feel the way John Owen did near the end of his life. When he died, he was writing a book called Meditations on the Glory of Christ. He wanted to be focused on the main reality of the universe in his last years. So do I…How better can we be made useful for the world, or ready for heaven, than to give our “best meditations and our utmost diligence” to the revelation of the glory of Christ?
Oh, that God would give me the grace and strength to look back on 30 years of ministry and to say at the age of 62 I am hungry for Christ. This is the type of Godly example I long to follow.