33 Then they said to (Jesus), “Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?”
What does it mean to follow Jesus?
The scribes and Pharisees at Levi’s house were curious why, unlike the disciples of both John the Baptist and the Pharisees who fasted and prayed regularly, Jesus’ disciples seemed to spend most of their time partying. They believed following Jesus was somehow associated with meeting certain standards. But they couldn’t be further from the truth.
There is nothing inherently wrong with fasting and praying. Each has its intrinsic value and place in the Christian life. However, please don’t think your faith is just about keeping rules and observing spiritual disciplines.
The gospel is about relationships and not rules.
Following rules is about trusting your own self-effort and performance. And if you were to use your performance to gauge how well you are doing, it will either lead to pride or guilt. Nowhere in the gospels did Jesus force anyone to follow Him. He attracted. He initiated. He welcomed. He never held anyone in ransom. And He was even willing to let go of those who no longer wanted to follow Him. Yet those who chose to stay on with Him, they found a life extraordinary.
The more you value the implication of following Jesus, the more you will experience the freedom and forgiveness He wrought for you.
This relationship you enjoy in Christ is not kept by rules, but by grace (Colossians 2:6). Instead of you trying to live by the power of your own strength, the all-sufficiency of Christ’s grace in you empowers you to live a life pleasing to God. This starts first with changing the way you think by filling both your mind and heart with clear revelation of gospel truths and then walk in obedience to these truths through the leading of the Holy Spirit. In doing so, you will not carry out the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).
© Copyright Richard Tan, 2019.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.