Why Should I Follow Jesus? A Student Devotional
This year’s campus theme is “Follow Me.” In Matthew’s Gospel, we encounter the very words of Jesus and learn what it means to follow Him. While we talk a lot about how to follow Jesus, we often skip the “why?”
Sprinkled throughout the inspired words of Matthew is the answer. It just takes a little digging to find it. Sophomore educational ministries major and growth group leader, Natalee Riggins, leads us in the journey through the book of Matthew to answer the question, “Why should I follow Jesus?”
The Intersection of Humanity and Divinity
Matthew 1:20-21 says, “But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to Him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.’”
Jesus was the Messiah from the very beginning. Even before he was born, Jesus was radically changing lives. It began with his mother, Mary, and his adoptive father, Joseph. In that culture it was looked down upon for a woman to be pregnant without a husband, so we can assume Mary must have experienced a lot of ridicule from those around her. We also know that Jesus was named for his main purpose: to save the human race from their sins. Verse 23 calls Him “Immanuel, or “God with us.” Jesus was here; he was a real human being; he understands the human condition, and we can take great comfort in knowing that.
We follow Him because He walked in our shoes.
Relief from our Burdens
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus describes Himself, saying, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
A common thought in Western philosophy is that we need to be strong, avoid weakness at all costs, and hide how we are truly feeling. Jesus is preaching a completely different heart attitude in this passage. Jesus does not expect his followers to be perfect. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Jesus wants you to process those difficult feelings with Him, to find rest in his arms, and to drop your burdens in order to follow Him.
We follow Him because He replaces our earthly burdens with a greater purpose.
Encouragement to Grow
Matthew 14:22-36 tells the story of Peter walking on water with Jesus. Let’s take a moment to imagine ourselves in this situation. We are the disciples, the boat is our comfort zone, and the lake is the often tumultuous situation we encounter. Jesus walks above our difficulty and invites us to walk above it all with Him. As fallen human beings, we can often be skeptical about leaving our comfort zone. But, that is the only way to grow in a relationship with Christ. To take that leap of faith and walk towards Him on the stormy seas. Often, when we get out of the boat, we can forget who invited us out there and get scared. When that happens, don’t get down on yourself. Jesus is ready to pull you out of that place and help you grow. The key in all of this is accepting his hand of help. Recognize that you are not strong enough to fix yourself, and let Christ in to help you grow.
We follow Him because He wants to help us grow in our relationship with Him.
A Path to God
The most tumultuous, painful experience in Jesus’ human life has to be the moments before, during, and after the crucifixion. What is interesting is that Jesus was a world-shaker before his birth, during his life, and throughout the events of his death.
Matthew 27:45,50-53 says, “From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land… And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.”
There was darkness in the middle of the day, the sacred curtain was ripped, and the dead were raised to life. Talk about world-shaking. We are no longer separated from God by our sin nature because Jesus filled the gap. The temple curtain separated the temple worshippers from the holiest place, where the presence of God was and where only the high priest could go. It is so comforting to know that Christ did not want the separation to continue. He was sent to heal that relationship and bridge the chasm.
We follow Him because He ended the separation.
At Grace College, it is our desire to foster passion for Christ in the everyday lives of our students. But we recognize that students aren’t just here to learn from us, we have a lot to learn from them, too! So we empower students like Natalee to step into positions of influence and to share what they are learning. It’s why we call ourselves a learning community.
If this is the kind of college experience you’re looking for, click here to apply today!