One day as Jesus was passing along the highway, a man said to him, |I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest| (Luke 9: 57). This man no doubt was greatly impressed by the wonderful works and noble character of Christ. He thought that companionship with such a man would be full of blessing and richness. Just to see and hear would be worth any man's time and effort -- to hear the gracious words that came from His lips would enrich mind and heart; to see the mighty works done would inspire. To him it seemed to be one of the most desirable of all things. Christ's answer to him, however, showed that following Him might well mean something more than this man had ever considered. His way did not always lead through pleasant places; His path was not always to be rose-strewn; not always would the multitude look on Him with favor. Whether this man followed Jesus we are not told, but following evidently meant more to him now than it had meant before.
There are many today who, like that man of old, say, |Lord, I will follow thee,| with no clear idea of what it means. It was not hard to follow him when the multitude shouted, |Hosanna!| and threw palm-branches before him. It is easy for us to follow him today when his cause is popular, when people are proclaiming the truth of what we teach and approving of our service. It is no task to follow when it brings praise and admiration. It is no task to follow in the calm after his |Peace, be still,| on Gennesaret. Who would not follow gladly to the mount of transfiguration to behold his glory? But to follow him |whithersoever| means more than this.
It is our privilege to share in his glory, his triumph, and his exaltation; but if we have a part in these, as true followers we must also follow him in his humiliation. Are we willing to follow him when the multitude laughs and mocks at him? when his cause is unpopular? when for praise we have reproaches? when for smiles we have sneers? Then comes the test whether we will follow him all the way.
On one occasion, after he had preached, the multitude forsook him and only the Twelve were stedfast. In these days many are offended at the Word. Are we willing to accept it all? Are we willing to listen to it all? Are we willing to obey it all? God wants |whithersoever| men and women, who will hear the whole Word, believe the whole Word, and obey the whole Word. If we shrink from obedience to any part, we lack just that much of being |whithersoever| disciples. Christ lived a dedicated life; he was dedicated to his Father's will and accomplished his work; he gave himself solely to this. He allowed nothing to come between him and the fulfilment of God's purpose. With him nothing counted except that he should finish his work.
There is a purpose, a moving purpose, in every life. There is one thing above all other things that is the chief purpose of our life. In many cases that purpose is to please self, to follow out a course of our own choosing. The dominant purpose in the heart of every true follower is the same as it was in the life of Christ -- to do the will and work of the Father. He who shrinks from either may hesitate to call himself a true follower. Christ sacrificed all, even his life. A |whithersoever| follower has the same spirit of sacrifice; he will not withhold himself nor that which is his. The early church rejoiced |that they were counted worthy to suffer| for Christ. Let us today look into our own hearts and see if we are animated by the same spirit. That spirit is a very different spirit from that which is seen in those who are offended by a word or a look and who are ready to resent the slightest act that encroaches upon their rights. How empty the claim of many who profess to be real followers! They follow where it pleases them, but as soon as something happens not to their liking, they are ready to draw back.
Christ had not where to lay his head. We have no record that he ever owned anything save the clothes he wore. A |whithersoever| follower is not ashamed of the poor; and if he himself is poor, he is not ashamed of his poverty. But Christ was not always poor. We read that |he became poor.| He sacrificed that others might be enriched. The same spirit of sacrifice will make us willing to sacrifice what we have for the enrichment of others. If there were more |whithersoevers| among us, we should not hear of ministers' being kept out of the work through lack of support or a lack of funds to carry on the Lord's work. Think of a stingy |whithersoever|! Can you imagine such a combination? Yet many professed followers fail in their duty to give to the cause.
Let us bring the question home to ourselves. Let us examine our hearts and lives. Are we willing to follow Christ all the way, even when we are rejected by our friends and relatives, through sneers and revilings? We might be willing to walk on the waters with him, but how about Gethsemane? We may be willing to eat of the loaves and fishes, but are we willing to go with him to the palace of the high priest? We might drink of the wine of Cana, but will we wear the thorns? We would gladly sit with him on his throne, but will we bear the cross with him to Calvary? We can easily follow him where the way is easy and when our emotions are exalted and our hearts full of praise, but will we follow him when the skies grow dark, when we are troubled, when bitter trials come, when it takes courage to face what is before us? Let us decide to be true when the way is strewn with stones or hedged with thorns, when the clouds hang low as well as when all is bright and encouraging. Let us cast away all shrinking, and say from our hearts and by our lives, |I will follow whithersoever thou goest.|