When Jesus said follow me, He was talking to you too.
God told the Israelites in Joshua 3 to follow the Ark of the Covenant because they had never been where God was taking them. You have never been where you are right now before. You have never been where you are going before…so you need to follow Jesus.
Wayne and I were headed to our granddaughter’s new house to drop off a car for her to use while her husband went back to get the last load from their old place.
Wayne is so protective.
He knows that everywhere we go I have my head in my computer, “redeeming the time” is what I call it. I’m working on blog posts like this one or preparing sermons, so I don’t pay attention to where we are going or how to get to there. And, he also knows how many times I have gotten lost, so he prompted me as we went out the door, “Follow me closely.”
So I did.
When Wayne stayed in the left lane, I got concerned that we needed to be in the right lane to exit. I kept thinking, “Wayne, you better get over, you better get over.” I don’t like changing lanes at the last minute.
What I didn’t realize was the right lane ended before the exit that we needed to take. I thought I knew more than he did, even though he had driven it many times.
At that moment, I was so glad I trusted Wayne enough to follow Him.
Jesus says “Follow Me.”
There are plenty of places in the Gospels where Jesus said the same thing; “Follow me.” But, I have to tell you that following Jesus is not as easy as following a car you can see.
Matthew 9:9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So, Matthew got up and followed him.
This command isn’t just for people in the Bible.
1 Peter 2:21 NLT
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
How can I follow Jesus if I can’t see Him?
Matt 16:24 NLT
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.
There are numerous things we see in Jesus’ example… Suffering is the one He listed.
But, His example also includes His:
- Knowledge of Scripture
- Prayer Life
I believe we can and should follow Jesus’ example in many ways, that includes miracles. Jesus specifically includes that one in John 14:12
John 14:12 NLT
“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.
And why was going to the Father so significant?
Because, when Jesus went back to heaven The Father would send Precious Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus had been anointed and filled with the Holy Spirit, we could be filled and Holy Spirit would enable us to do what Jesus did.
I want us to look at an Old Testament picture found in Joshua 3 to better understand what it means to follow Jesus.
It was the real question
Following God had been the real question Israel faced 40 years prior to the event in Joshua 3. They had refused back then and paid for that disobedience by missing what God had for them; but, this time the Israelites would do different.
Joshua 3:2 NIV After three days the officers went throughout the camp,
3giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it.
4Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits (about ½ mile) between you and the ark; do not go near it.”
God was saying “Follow the ark.”
Why was that so important?
They had never been that way before.
You may feel like your life is so routine that you’ve got things under control, but if you do things the way you’ve always done them, you’ll miss God’s best. Oh, dear friend, please, please don’t miss God’s best.
What is the new thing that God wants to do in your heart?
What promise have you been believing God to fulfill that hasn’t happened yet?
You’re closer than ever.
Follow the ark.
Obey Him at a new level. Go deeper. Grow your faith.
Who do you need to witness to?
Who do you need to have over for dinner to encourage them?
Don’t miss it!
There are things that is in God’s heart for you that you will never experience unless you follow Him. Get in God’s presence and listen. Receive His love at a deeper level.
Follow the ark because you don’t want to miss what God has for you.
The Israelites would never have experienced the Promised Land if they hadn’t followed the Ark.
Maybe you’re thinking…Pat, you’ve gotten all preachy on me…the ark…really?
What was so special about the Ark?
I am so glad you asked that question…you did ask, didn’t you?
It’s a picture of Jesus.
It helps us know Jesus better!
That first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth.
2There were two rooms in that Tabernacle. In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place.
3Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room called the Most Holy Place.
4In that room were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. Inside the Ark were a gold jar containing manna, Aaron’s staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant.
5Above the Ark were the cherubim of divine glory, whose wings stretched out over the Ark’s cover, the place of atonement. But we cannot explain these things in detail now.
(I put a link for you at the bottom of this page if you are interested in learning more about the Ark of the Covenant.)
How is the Ark of the Covenant a picture of Jesus?
It’s a picture of Jesus all the way down to its construction of both wood and gold which symbolized that He would be God and man.
Exodus 25:22 describes the ark as a meeting place with God. If there’s one thing that I know, really know about God is that He has always wanted to be with His people. Again and again we see that He wants to be right smack dab in the center of our lives. Even when the Israelites camped, God told them to position the tabernacle with the Ark of the Covenant in the very center. And their tents were to be facing the tabernacle. I love that picture.
The lid was made of solid gold and was called the atonement cover or mercy seat. It comes from the word “khapporet” which simply means to make atonement, restitution or amends. I love to use the word redemption to describe it.
The lid was sprinkled with blood on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:14-15) once a year demonstrating a spiritual covering of sins.
Inside the ark was the tablets, a pot of manna and Aaron’s rod that budded.
The tablets are representative of His laws, His covenant with us, His Word that guides our values and shapes our character. They aren’t outdated, dusty truisms; instead they are timeless markers that light our pathway.
The manna reminds and ensures us that He is our provider and He really is!
Aaron’s rod shows us the importance of submitting to authority—Jesus is the supreme authority in a believer’s life.
Follow the ark
When the Israelites were instructed to follow the ark they were following more than ideology, they were following God. They were following the picture of a promise that would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
He is both the atonement and the High Priest of the atonement.
He is the final authority.
And He satisfied the covenant so you can enjoy the benefits of that covenant.
Obedience is not like eating from a buffet; you don’t get to pick and choose.
We don’t get to pick and choose like when we eat from a buffet…choosing potatoes and the buttery rolls, but not brussels sprouts. (The thought of brussels sprouts makes me shutter…but you get the picture.)
We want the part of following Jesus that enables us to experience His miracles for ourselves, and also to see them flow through us to others, but then we try to sidestep the challenges of submitting our will to His authority!
Also, we like the receiving the love part of following Jesus, but we don’t enjoy the praying for our enemy or the dying to ourselves part of following Him. Listen careful, you’re NOT following Jesus, if you don’t follow.
Even when His ways seem hard, follow Jesus.
Follow Jesus, especially when it’s hard, that’s when you grow.
You need, no, I gotta include me, we need to especially follow Jesus when it’s hard, when we don’t feel like we can do it, because that’s when we need His help the most.
Don’t overthink obedience.
Don’t whine or throw yourself on the floor and throw a fit.
Just put one foot in front of the other and follow Jesus.
I want to give you a free reminder.
Truths are important to me so I like to have reminders in my home and on my phone that help me remember them.
I made two simple reminders for you that simply say “Follow Jesus” that will fit in a 5X7 frame that you can put beside your bed or wherever you will see it to remind you to “Follow Jesus” during your day.
Let me encourage you to change your reminder when you need a different one.
Download your Free Reminder- Follow Jesus
Here’s the link for more information about the Ark of the Covenant.