Why Follow “the Christ”?
“If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself . . . and follow me continually.”—LUKE 9:23.
1, 2. Why is it important for us to consider why we should follow “the Christ”?
HOW delighted Jehovah must feel to see among the congregated throngs of his worshippers on earth you newly interested ones and young ones! As you continue to study the Bible, attend Christian meetings regularly, and grow in your knowledge of the lifesaving truth found in God’s Word, you need to take to heart Jesus’ invitation: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake day after day and follow me continually.” (Luke 9:23) Jesus is saying that disowning yourself and becoming his follower is something you would want to do. It is important for us, then, to consider why we should follow “the Christ.”—Matt. 16:13-16.
2 What about those of us who are already walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ? We are exhorted to “keep on doing it more fully.” (1 Thess. 4:1, 2) Whether we embraced true worship recently or decades ago, reflecting on reasons for following the Christ will help us to apply Paul’s exhortation and follow Him ever more fully in our daily lives. Let us consider five reasons why we should want to follow the Christ.
To Increase Our Intimacy With Jehovah
3. In what two ways can we get to know Jehovah?
3 When addressing the Athenians as he “stood in the midst of the Areopagus,” the apostle Paul said: “[God] decreed the appointed times and the set limits of the dwelling of men, for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us.” (Acts 17:22, 26, 27) We can seek God and really come to know him. For example, the book of creation speaks volumes about God’s qualities and abilities. Appreciatively reflecting on his creative works can teach us a great deal about the Creator. (Rom. 1:20) Jehovah has also revealed details about himself in his written Word, the Bible. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) The more we ‘meditate on his activity’ and ‘concern ourselves with his dealings,’ the better we can get to know Jehovah.—Ps. 77:12.
4. How can following the Christ help us to become intimately acquainted with Jehovah?
4 A very fine way to become even more intimately acquainted with Jehovah is to follow the Christ. Just think of the glory Jesus had alongside his Father “before the world was”! (John 17:5) He is “the beginning of the creation by God.” (Rev. 3:14) As “the firstborn of all creation,” he lived for aeons in heaven with his Father, Jehovah. During his prehuman existence, Jesus did more than just spend time with his Father. He was God’s personal companion, happily working together with the Almighty, forming with him the strongest bond of love ever. Jesus not only observed his Father’s way of doing things, taking note of His feelings and attributes, but also absorbed and adopted all of what he learned about his Father. As a result, this obedient Son became just like his Father—so much so that the Bible refers to him as “the image of the invisible God.” (Col. 1:15) By closely following the Christ, we can become more intimately acquainted with Jehovah.
To Imitate Jehovah More Fully
5. What will help us to imitate Jehovah more fully, and why?
5 We are ‘made in God’s image, according to his likeness,’ so we have the capacity to reflect godly attributes. (Gen. 1:26) The apostle Paul exhorted Christians to “become imitators of God, as beloved children.” (Eph. 5:1) Following the Christ helps us to imitate our heavenly Father. This is because Jesus reflected God’s thinking, feelings, and personality better and explained him more fully than anyone else could. When on earth, Jesus did not simply make Jehovah’s name known. Rather, he revealed the Person that name represents. (Read Matthew 11:27.) Jesus did this by his words and deeds, his teachings and example.
6. What do Jesus’ teachings reveal about Jehovah?
6 By his teachings, Jesus showed what God requires of us and how he feels about his worshippers. (Matt. 22:36-40; Luke 12:6, 7; 15:4-7) For example, after quoting one of the Ten Commandments—“you must not commit adultery”—Jesus explained God’s view of what takes place inside the heart of a man long before he commits that act. He said: “Everyone that keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Ex. 20:14; Matt. 5:27, 28) After stating the Pharisaic interpretation of a statement in the Law—“you must love your neighbor and hate your enemy”—Jesus made known Jehovah’s thinking, saying: “Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you.” (Matt. 5:43, 44; Ex. 23:4; Lev. 19:18) Gaining insight into how God thinks and feels and what he requires of us equips us to imitate him more fully.
7, 8. What do we learn about Jehovah from Jesus’ example?
7 Jesus also revealed what his Father is like by example. When we read in the Gospels that Jesus felt compassion for the needy, empathy for those suffering, indignation at his disciples who reprimanded young children, do we not see the Father feeling the same emotions? (Mark 1:40-42; 10:13, 14; John 11:32-35) Think of how Jesus’ actions shed light on God’s cardinal attributes. Do not the miracles Christ performed show the tremendous power he had at his disposal? Yet, he never used that power for personal gain or with the intent of harming others. (Luke 4:1-4) How clearly his action of throwing greedy merchants out of the temple shows his sense of justice! (Mark 11:15-17; John 2:13-16) His teachings and the winsome words he used to reach people’s hearts indicate that he was “more than Solomon” in wisdom. (Matt. 12:42) What can we say about the love Jesus displayed by surrendering his soul in behalf of others except that “no one has love greater than this”?—John 15:13.
8 The Son of God represented Jehovah so perfectly in everything he said and did that he could say: “He that has seen me has seen the Father also.” (Read John 14:9-11.) Following the Christ is tantamount to imitating Jehovah.
Jesus Is the Anointed One of Jehovah
9. When and how did Jesus become God’s Anointed One?
9 Consider what took place in the autumn of 29 C.E. when 30-year-old Jesus came to John the Baptizer. “After being baptized Jesus immediately came up from the water; and, look! the heavens were opened up, and he saw descending like a dove God’s spirit coming upon him.” At that time, he became the Christ, or Messiah. At that time, Jehovah himself made known that Jesus was his Anointed One, saying: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” (Matt. 3:13-17) What a fine reason that is for us to want to follow the Christ!
10, 11. (a) In what ways is the title “Christ” used with reference to Jesus? (b) Why should we not fail to follow Jesus Christ?
10 In the Bible, the title “Christ” is used with reference to Jesus in various ways, such as Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus, and the Christ. Jesus himself first used the term “Jesus Christ”—the name followed by the title. In prayer to his Father, he said: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) This usage clearly draws attention to the one who was sent forth by God and became his Anointed One. When the title is placed ahead of the name, as in “Christ Jesus,” the emphasis shifts from the person to the position, or office, held by him. (2 Cor. 4:5) Using the expression “the Christ,” the title preceded by the definite article, is another way to emphasize Jesus’ office as the Messiah.—Acts 5:42.
11 Regardless of how the title “Christ” is used with reference to Jesus, it highlights this important truth: Even though the Son of God came to the earth as a man and made his Father’s will known, he was neither just an ordinary man nor merely a prophet; he came to be the Anointed One of Jehovah. We must not fail to follow this One.
Jesus Is the Only Way to Salvation
12. What statement made to the apostle Thomas holds meaning for us?
12 Another vital reason to keep on following the Messiah is stated in Jesus’ words to his faithful apostles, spoken just a few hours before his death. In response to Thomas’ question about Jesus’ statement concerning going away and preparing a place for them, Jesus said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:1-6) Jesus was then speaking to the 11 faithful apostles. He promised them a place in heaven, but his words also have meaning for those who hope to gain everlasting life on earth. (Rev. 7:9, 10; 21:1-4) How so?
13. In what sense is Jesus “the way”?
13 Jesus Christ is “the way.” That is, he is the only one through whom it is possible for us to approach God. This is true in the matter of prayer, for only by praying through Jesus do we have the assurance that the Father will give us whatever we may request in harmony with His will. (John 15:16) However, Jesus is “the way” also in a further sense. Sin has alienated mankind from God. (Isa. 59:2) Jesus gave “his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matt. 20:28) As a result, the Bible explains: “The blood of Jesus . . . cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) The Son has thus opened up the way of reconciliation with God. (Rom. 5:8-10) It is by putting faith in Jesus and obeying him that we can have an approved relationship with God.—John 3:36.
14. How is Jesus “the truth”?
14 Jesus is “the truth” not only because he always spoke and lived the truth but also because all the prophecies written about the Messiah—scores of them—were fulfilled in him. “No matter how many the promises of God are,” wrote the apostle Paul, “they have become Yes by means of him.” (2 Cor. 1:20) Even “a shadow of the good things to come” contained in the Mosaic Law became a reality in Christ Jesus. (Heb. 10:1; Col. 2:17) Jesus is the focal point on which all prophecies concentrate, and they shed light on his central role in the outworking of Jehovah’s purpose. (Rev. 19:10) To benefit from the fulfillment of what God has purposed for us, we need to follow the Messiah.
15. In what sense is Jesus “the life”?
15 Jesus is “the life” because he has bought the human race with his lifeblood, and everlasting life is a gift that God gives “by Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23) Jesus is “the life” also to those who have died. (John 5:28, 29) Moreover, think of what he will do as High Priest during his Millennial Reign. Why, he will obtain everlasting deliverance from sin and death for his earthly subjects!—Heb. 9:11, 12, 28.
16. What reason do we have for following Jesus?
16 Jesus’ answer to Thomas, then, has great meaning for us. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. He is the one God sent forth into the world for the world to be saved through him. (John 3:17) And no one comes to the Father except through him. The Bible clearly states: “There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” (Acts 4:12) Whatever our background may be, therefore, it is the course of wisdom for us to believe in Jesus, follow him, and thus be led to life.—John 20:31.
We Are Commanded to Listen to the Christ
17. Why is it important for us to listen to God’s Son?
17 Peter, John, and James witnessed the transfiguration. At that time, they heard a voice from heaven say: “This is my Son, the one that has been chosen. Listen to him.” (Luke 9:28, 29, 35) Our obeying the command to listen to the Messiah is a serious matter.—Read Acts 3:22, 23.
18. How may we listen to Jesus Christ?
18 Listening to Jesus involves ‘looking intently at him, considering his example closely.’ (Heb. 12:2, 3) Hence, we do well to “pay more than the usual attention to the things” we read about him in the Bible and in the publications of “the faithful and discreet slave,” as well as what we hear about him at Christian meetings. (Heb. 2:1; Matt. 24:45) As his sheep, let us be eager to listen to Jesus and follow him.—John 10:27.
19. What will help us to follow the Christ continually?
19 Can we succeed in following the Christ continually, no matter what comes our way? Yes, we can, provided that we “keep holding the pattern of healthful words” by practicing what we learn “with the faith and love that are in connection with Christ Jesus.”—2 Tim. 1:13.
What Did You Learn?
• Why can following “the Christ” increase our intimacy with Jehovah?
• Why is imitating Jesus tantamount to imitating Jehovah?
• How is Jesus “the way and the truth and the life”?
• Why should we listen to Jehovah’s Anointed One?
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Jesus’ teachings reflected the exalted thinking of Jehovah
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We must faithfully follow the Anointed One of Jehovah
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Jehovah declared: “This is my Son . . . listen to him”