“Come, follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21)
It is worthy of our attention that no less than THREE times in the story of the Rich Young Ruler and its aftermath, the word “follow” was used:
— First, in prescribing the spiritual “cure” for the Rich Young Ruler, Jesus told him: “Go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come FOLLOW ME.” (:21)
— Then, immediately after this episode, Peter asked what there would be for him and the other apostles, since “we have left everything and FOLLOWED You.” (:27)
— And Jesus responded “Truly I say to you, that you who have FOLLOWED Me …” (:28)
So this word “follow”, or the act of “following” Jesus plays an extremely prominent role in this passage. We should pay heed to it. The word “follow” is perhaps the best word to describe genuine discipleship. What are real disciples of Jesus to do? They are to FOLLOW Him. When Jesus called Peter and Andrew, and James and John, and Matthew, to be His disciples, He invited them all in the same way: “Follow Me”! And here in this decisive passage, where the question was eternal life, Jesus asked the young ruler for nothing less than FOLLOWING Him.
It is worth pondering that He did not merely encourage them to “accept”, or “believe”, but “follow”. Be sure, this takes nothing away from the doctrine of justification by faith alone, but the truth is that when one truly “believes” in Jesus he will then FOLLOW Him. This is what true discipleship is.
Thus each of us should ask ourselves, not merely “do I ‘believe’ in Jesus?” (because James 2 tells us that the demons do also!), but are you FOLLOWING Him? Are you spending time with Him; learning of Him; obeying Him; becoming like Him; going where He would go and doing what He would do in the world? Can you really say that you are FOLLOWING Jesus? Because that is what real disciples do.