Many statements don’t stand the test of time. Even the most visionary people say things that are proven false and useless with time. In his final days, John records an exchange between Jesus and the disciples who deserted him. The final two words of the exchange are timeless:
Very truly I tell you, 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!” Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:18-22 NIV)
Follow Me = Discipleship:
As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:16, 17 NASB)
The words “Follow Me” have little meaning in our modern world, but they meant everything to a Jew in the first century. A disciple of a Rabbi (or Talmid) would study the Rabbi so closely they would eventually think and act like the Rabbi.
The talmid watched his rabbi’s every action, word and deed, trying to think and act in a similar fashion. His deepest desire was to follow his rabbi so closely that the student would eventually think and act exactly like the rabbi. An old Rabbinic blessing puts it this way: “May you be covered with the dust of your Rabbi.” Meaning, the student was to walk so close to the rabbi that the very dust kicked up by the teacher’s walking would fall on him. Source link.
Consider when the words were written matters
John wrote his gospel at the end of his life, late in the first century. The first generation of apostles and disciples had died/most martyred, including Peter. (Note: John is believed to be the only apostle to die of natural causes.) Christians were increasingly being split by false teachers. By the time John wrote his gospel many differing views of who Jesus was and what it meant to be a Christian were placing a stress on the new religion. Such views included:
Docetic – Jesus was an illusion
Gnostic – special knowledge and all matter is evil
Ebbionite – Jesus was the Messiah but just a man/ not devine. Followed the law and jewish rites
Jews – believers who insisted the Law (circumcision) was still required
Note: Persecution added more strain to the Christian faith. Suffered persecution under Nero (c. 64-68), likely when Peter and Paul became martyrs. Were under persecution by Domitian (r. 81-96) when John was written.
Paul often references these divisions:
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! (Galatians 1:6-8 NASB)
I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:11, 12 NASB)
Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. (Romans 16:17 NASB)
Opinions still divide:
With thousands of known Christian denominations the problem of divisions is prevalent today.
Pew study in 2007 found that:
More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion – or no religion at all. If change in affiliation from one type of Protestantism to another is included, 44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether.
Summary of Jesus’ Teachings:
Save the lost “…He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 NASB)
God’s Love “…For God so loved the world” (John 3:16 NASB)
Kingdom of God “…the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:21 NASB)
Love God “…love the Lord thy God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” (Mark 12:30 pp)
Love others “…Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31 NIV)
May The Lord bless you and keep you, may The Lord lift his face to shine up one you, and be gracious unto you….May you be covered with the dust of your rabbi and may the peace that passes all understanding descend on you and bless you with peace