After entrusting Peter to look after his sheep, Jesus tells Peter how he will die. Not in a blaze of glory, but as an old man taken against his will.
Jesus then tells Peter to follow him. Rather than obey his Lord and Saviour, Peter is preoccupied with what John is up to and queries Jesus about him. Jesus sees Peter has missed the whole point and asks Peter “What is that to you? Follow me.”
Even after that response, there were those who missed the point, thinking the crux of the message was about John’s fate, rather than what Jesus was really saying – follow me.
So often instead of concentrating that we’re following Jesus, we can spend time looking around at others and judging their walk. Before we can successfully help others, we need to make sure we’re following Jesus, otherwise instead of shepherding, we’re just interfering busy bodies.
So often we can hear teaching and instead of applying it to ourselves, we think of someone else it could apply to. Now it’s possible that person might need to hear it also, but we must first check to see if it applies to us.
Only by looking first to Jesus can we then look around and help others.
Of course, in order to follow Christ, we must first put our faith in him.
By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days. By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. Heb 11:29-31
Now this faith is not something which goes against that facts and against reason. It is not purely based on feelings, nor is it purely rational. Nor is it devoid of emotion or rationality.
Just as Rahab’s faith was based on the word of God, so should our faith also be. Rahab, although she was not a Hebrew, believed the word of God which said the land would be given to the Hebrews. She feared the Lord more than men. This same word directs us to faith in Christ for salvation from our sinful state, this word which is the revelation of God and interwoven within history.
Now the bible says that salvation is by the grace of God alone, through faith. This faith, in and of itself, has no power to save. It provides no merit, but is merely a means. It is faith in Christ, it is he who is able to save. Much like a window allows light into a house, but is not the source of that light. So faith brings the saving power of Christ to a sinner.
Just as the light from the window will enlighten the room, so faith in Christ will produce good works. This is not to say good works can grant us any merit before God, but that real faith has the consequence of good works. Rahab’s faith was real and produced obedience to God.
Since it is not our faith which saves us, but the object of our faith – Jesus Christ, it is not the case that our faith must be perfect in order to gain salvation. Whilst faith produces good works, we are still sinners and are imperfect, so our faith will be imperfect. However, the object of our faith is perfect and more than able to keep us safe, and to present us as perfect.
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and for evermore! Amen. Jude 24-25