It’s the AFL Grand Final next weekend. Around my suburb I’ve noticed the occasional Western Bulldogs flag proudly displayed in the windows. The followers of the Melbourne Demons have come out of nowhere and are talking about their team. It’s one of those cultural moments where you see people show high levels of devotion to their team of choice.
Sport is one of those things that capture our affections. Our hearts can become enthralled by many things.
In a similar way, the Gospel of Mark we find that Jesus calls for our complete devotion.
Jesus comes along and says to us “Follow me” (Mark 1, verse 17).
How does that sound to you? A bit much? A step too far? A bit too much?
“Follow me” is more than a weekend fandom or side hobby, isn’t it?
“Follow me” is more than an intellectual pursuit. It’s even more than following your footy team.
When Jesus says “Follow me” he’s saying that he is to be our ultimate meaning, our goal, our aim. Following Jesus entails our full allegiance and total devotion.
We might protest: I’m happy to follow you Jesus only if you don’t really change my life. I’ll follow you Jesus, if my job is going well. If my career is tracking nicely, if I have enough savings in the bank account. I’ll follow you Jesus if I have a plan in place for next year.
If it were anyone else calling for our utter devotion and affection, we may be excused to keep them at arms length. We may run for the hills. That’s way too intense, we may think. However, to do this with Jesus would be a grave error.
You see, Jesus is the one who is the King of the Kingdom of God. God reigns through Jesus over his creation.
This is what the Gospel of Mark says:“After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” – Mark 1:14-15
The King comes and preaches good news. He comes teaching about the Kingdom through parables. He comes and shows the Kingdom in healing and casting out demons. He overthrows the enemy kingdom of Satan, binding up the strong man. He establishes the Kingdom through his death and resurrection. And he will bring the Kingdom in all its fullness when he returns as judge. A world puts to rights with truth, justice and peace.
In short, Jesus is the King that we must believe if we are to be found in the Kingdom of God. He is the good news for us and for this world.
“Follow me” Jesus says. This call isn’t a burden, although it’s not an easy road. It’s a joy and honour. For only Jesus is worthy of our heartfelt allegiance and devotion.