Did you realize that Jesus NEVER told anybody to believe in Him? He NEVER SAID, “You MUST believe in Me as your Savior or else!”
But He DID SAY that we must believe in Him “IF” we want to live a life of HOPE and have Eternal Life. And so you ask, “Those sound like COMMANDS. Jesus said we ‘MUST believe.’ Like we HAVE No Choice but to believe.”
Actually, Jesus is saying that we Must Believe “IF” we CHOOSE to accept Him as our Savior. Jesus is saying that “IF” you want Hope and Eternal Life, then we MUST believe in Him. The “IF” becomes a VERY BIG WORD. “IF” is what makes life with Jesus a CHOICE.
“IF” we Want Jesus, then we MUST believe in Him.
“IF” we Don’t Want Jesus, then we REJECT Him.
“Believe” or “Reject”: it’s a CHOICE.
When Jesus first approached His disciples, He said, “Come and see.” Here, Jesus invited the disciples to see and hear His message for themselves. Check Him out. See if they liked what Jesus was saying and doing.
And once they checked out Jesus, He told them to go back home. Soon after that, Jesus showed back up and said, “Come and follow Me.” This is a very critical juncture in the lives of the disciples, because what Jesus has done is to (1) give the disciples an opportunity to SEE what He is all about, (2) go home and THINK about it, then (3) FOLLOW Him “IF” they so CHOSE.
Jesus didn’t put a sword to their heads and say, “Follow Me or else.” But what He DID do was to give them an offer they couldn’t refuse. An offer to have the Kingdom of Heaven opened up to them along with the riches of eternal life. But saying, “YES!” to Jesus did not mean their journey with Him was going to be easy. Anything BUT easy!
But they still CHOSE to follow the Messiah – even to the ends of the Earth. When the disciples heard “‘IF’ you follow Me…,” they replied, “…THEN we will!”
So when WE Choose to follow Jesus down this same hard road, we have to realize that it’s not because we have been COMMANDED to follow Him, but because we CHOOSE to follow Him. So, since we are accountable for that decision, wouldn’t it make sense to FOLLOW HIM WELL?
Because now that we have answered the “IF” with an “OK, I will,” we have suddenly converted OUR Choice into HIS Command. “IF” we follow Jesus, “THEN” we MUST believe in Him and OBEY His commands. That is the life of a Christ-follower. That is what we are all called to do.
It’s interesting at this point to realized that Jesus also had a CHOICE when it came to those who follow Him. 2000 years ago, in the Holy Land, young men would choose the rabbi that they wanted to model themselves after. But Jesus completely turned that method around and said to the disciples,
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in My name the Father will give you” (John 15:16).
The disciples did, in fact, Choose to Follow Jesus, BUT ONLY AFTER Jesus had chosen them as the ones He wanted to follow Him.
So the moment of reflection for this message is to think deeply within ourselves and weigh our CHOICE for the permanence of Jesus against our CHOICE for the transience of the world. “IF” we truly Choose Jesus because He first Chose us, “THEN,” we are to “go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.”
Do we live well? “IF” we realize that WE have been chosen by Him, “THEN” we MUST seek the will of the Father, be obedient to His will, and live each day for His glory. For without Him, we have nothing.
Choose wisely. Daily. Hourly. Moment to moment. Choose Jesus.
God bless you all, and we hope to see you Sunday!
— Pastor David McCall