If we take a look across the Gospel of Matthew, perhaps we can summarize in six words who Jesus has called us to be:

Disciples together loving God and others

In a few more words, we could say that we are called to be disciples of Jesus, in community, loving God with all of our heart, soul, and mind, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Our calling starts with repentance. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus with a message of repentance (Matthew 3). And when Jesus began to preach, it too was a message of repentance (Matthew 4:17). Jesus calls us to do an about-face, to turn away from our sinful, self-centered way of life and turn towards God.

Jesus then calls us to follow Him, which is what it means to be a disciple. He first called disciples to follow Him in Matthew 4:19 and 21, and by the end of chapter 4, we see large crowds beginning to follow Him. Jesus teaches His followers how to follow Him, as we can learn in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). We are called to follow Jesus with faith (Matthew 8:2-3, 10, 26; 9:2, 22, 29; 14:31; 15:28; 17:20; 21:21), from the heart (Matthew 5:8, 6:21, 12:34, 15:8, 18:35, 22:37).

There is a tremendous cost to following Jesus that we see in Matthew 8:20-22, and then more acutely in Matthew 10:38-39 and 16:24. We are to lay aside everything that would hinder us from following Jesus (see also Matthew 19:16-22). But the cost pales in comparison with Jesus’ rest (Matthew 11:28-30) and the priceless value of being part of His kingdom (Matthew 13:44-46).

Following Jesus is done together, not individually. Jesus called twelve disciples, who spent countless hours together. He taught crowds. Jesus calls for us to come together to pray (Matthew 18:19-20) and to serve one another (Matthew 20:26-28), including the least (Matthew 25:40). We are told to replicate disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Going beyond the book of Matthew, we see in John 17 that Jesus prayed for His followers’ unity. Jesus’ bride is the Church, alluded to in Ephesians 5:22-33. In Hebrews 10:25, we are admonished not to neglect meeting together. And in James 5:16, we are called to confess our sins to one another. The way of Jesus is not that of a recluse; it is lived out in community, not just a me-and-Jesus relationship!

After we have repented and are following Jesus in community, we see Jesus declare that the greatest and most important command in the Law and the Prophets is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and that the second is like it, to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). If everything we do is in the context of loving God and loving others, just imagine how we will reflect God’s love and Jesus as Savior to a dying, desperate world around us and usher in the kingdom of heaven together with our Lord as we are disciples who make disciples.

Jesus is calling us. Will you follow him?

by Jonathan Ott, Elder

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