Followers of Jesus, the Glorious Model
1. What did the apostle Peter write to Christians, raising what question that we should ask ourselves?
REFLECTING back over some thirty years on the earthly life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the apostle Peter wrote about 62-64 C.E. to fellow Christians: “To this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.” We, too, after reading the previous article in this magazine, can reflect on the wonderful record made by Jesus. And as we do, let each one of us ask ourselves, “Do I claim to be a Christian and am I following this Model worshiper of Jehovah?” Following such a glorious model certainly includes a lot, does it not?—1 Pet. 2:21.
2. Who is supervising and directing the preaching activity of Jehovah’s witnesses today?
2 For instance, following in the footsteps of Jesus would mean engaging in the same Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work that he started and that he is now supervising. Yes, that is right. The glorified Lord Jesus Christ is now directing the witness work in which Jehovah’s Christian witnesses are engaged. Call to mind what Jesus said after gaining the victory over death and before his ascension to heaven: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations . . . And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” All the evidence shows not only that we are living in the conclusion of this system of things, but also that the present disciple-making work is under heavenly supervision.—Matt. 28:19, 20.
3, 4. In this regard, what pertinent questions should we be asking ourselves?
3 How closely, though, do you follow Jesus’ steps? If one engages in the preaching work occasionally or when it does not cause personal inconvenience, would that be imitating Christ? If you lack transportation, will you walk to the territory, perhaps miles, to bring the good news to isolated people or to be with your brothers at a congregation meeting? Jesus did a tremendous amount of walking.
4 Do you face the elements of heat or cold to get to and from a secular job, but then find yourself putting bodily comforts ahead of Kingdom service when the weather is not favorable? Is that the model Jesus left us? Or was he not, rather, a hard worker who neglected personal comforts when there was an opportunity to preach? One time at the well of Sychar, when urged to take time out to eat, he replied: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.”—John 4:34; compare Mark 6:30-34.
5, 6. What model did Jesus leave that we can copy when dealing with those still a part of Babylon the Great?
5 Jesus was noted for his tactfulness when dealing with opposers, and yet he repeatedly denounced the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy and for making Jehovah’s commandments null and void by their traditions. On one occasion, when in the presence of the temple crowd, he said to the religious leaders: “Serpents, offspring of vipers, how are you to flee from the judgment of Gehenna?” And concerning their unfaithful citadel of worship, he added: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent forth to her . . . Look! Your house is abandoned to you.”—Matt. 23:33-38; 15:3-9.
6 Do you feel that strongly about wicked Christendom and her unfaithful religious systems, the counterpart of unfaithful Jerusalem? We certainly should. The conditions are just as bad or worse now than they were then. It should be said of you, as it was of Christ, that a consuming zeal for Jehovah’s worship has eaten you up. If so, then you will be urgently warning people to get out of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, lest they receive part of her plagues.—John 2:17; Rev. 18:4.
7. In what other ways did Jesus leave us a model to copy closely?
7 What a beautiful model of kindness, long-suffering, self-control and gentleness was this mild-tempered Prince of Peace! Do you closely copy him in displaying these godly qualities? And what about humility? We certainly need to have the same mental attitude as Christ Jesus had in this respect, never displaying pride, arrogance or egotism, but, rather, being humble and lowly in mind. We must show such Christlike qualities of personality when dealing not only with strangers in the field, but even more so with our brothers in the congregation. This is what causes the whole body of fellow believers to grow up in unity with one another and with their head Christ.—Gal. 5:22-26; Eph. 4:15, 16; Phil. 2:3-5.
8. More than a model, what specific commandment did Jesus give Christians?
8 And what about your love for Jehovah God, for your neighbor and for your Christian brothers? Christ certainly set a perfect example for us in this regard. In fact, the only way we can prove we are his disciples is to love one another as he commanded: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.”—John 13:34, 35.
9. In respect to endurance, patience and industriousness, whose example do Christians today follow?
9 We must follow Jesus’ example in still another matter, to be approved as true disciples of his. Never slow down or quit just because an assignment embraces some rather disagreeable aspects, or because we have been doing the same thing for an extended period of time. Rather, if we are following Christ’s example closely, we too will stick to this Kingdom-preaching and teaching work, until Jehovah says it is finished, being “faithful even to death” if need be, as the Model Jesus was. (Rev. 2:10) The apostle Paul encourages us to show the same industriousness down to the end, not becoming sluggish, but being imitators of the faith and patience shown by Christ. Yes, “look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith,” Jesus, as a model of one who stuck to his preaching assignment through thick and thin. Do this, the apostle says, in order “that you may not get tired and give out in your souls.”—Heb. 6:11, 12; 12:2, 3.
10. To whom did Jesus give exclusive devotion, leaving us what model in this regard?
10 There are hundreds of thousands of persons all around the earth who are studiously following the glorious model Jesus left in Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making. Although the nations give their devotion to other gods, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses follow the example of Jesus in worshiping only Jehovah, and so they gladly make known Jehovah’s name and will. Their determination is expressed in Micah 4:5, which says: “But we, for our part, shall walk in the name of Jehovah our God to time indefinite, even forever.” Having such a determination, they accomplished a marvelous work during the 1972 service year.