Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. John 1:35-39
When we speak of “following Jesus” today, we mean that we follow in His footsteps figuratively. We keep His teachings. We obey Him. We submit to His leadership.
But when Jesus was physically present on earth, people were literally able to follow Him. Around. As in, walking right behind Him. Maybe even stepping on the backs of His sandals like my children do to me sometimes.
Which got me to thinking. Why do people follow other people around? And who are these people who follow other people around? And why are my children and my dog always following me around? And why does it annoy me when my children and my dog follow me around? (Ok, I haven’t figured that one out yet, but there’s some kind of a sin issue in there somewhere, I’m sure.)
First of all, you don’t usually see an adult following another adult around unless one of them is a stalker. But there are a some occasions in which it might be appropriate and legal, for example, if the person being followed is a tour guide, or if the person being followed is a seasoned employee training a new hire. Much of the time, literal followers are children. And at my house, the dog.
Why do people follow people around? Think about it– have you ever followed somebody around? Why did you do it? Do people follow you around? Why do they do it?
People generally follow another person around because:
a.) they are interested in what that person is doing,
b.) they want to learn from that person,
c.) they have no idea where they’re going and the person they’re following does.
That’s why people followed Jesus around. They had heard that he spoke and taught as no one ever had before. They had heard about the miracles and healings. They were curious. Were the rumors true? What might they see? Would Jesus do something for them?
For some, that initial interest blossomed into a desire to sit under the tutelage of Jesus. They couldn’t get enough of His teaching, so these first century groupies followed him from speaking engagement to speaking engagement.
Certainly, none of the people who followed Jesus around had a clue as to where they were going, spiritually speaking. Jesus did. He not only knew the way to the kingdom of God, He was the Way. Who better to follow?
So why do my children and my dog follow me around?
Well, my dog follows me around because hope springs eternal in her that I will drop food on the floor, or that one miraculous day, the meal I’m cooking in the kitchen will actually be for her. She’s not interested in learning anything from me and she knows her way around the house just fine.
My children follow me around for the same basic reasons people followed Jesus around. They’re curious. They want to know what I’m doing, and they hope it will be something fun that will involve them. When they’re young, even cooking, sweeping, and folding the laundry seem interesting to them (yeah, my kids don’t get out much) and they want to learn how to do it just like Mom. When we’re in an unfamiliar place, they follow me because they don’t know how to get where we’re going, and I do.
Which makes me think.
Do I follow Jesus so closely that by following me around, my children can learn to follow Him too?