Wherever He Goes

When Jesus dispatched his disciples to announce the “Good News” to the “lost sheep of Israel,” he warned that they would become like “sheep among wolves.” Hostile men would haul them before “councils and whip them in their synagogues.” Moreover, his followers would be hated “by all men.” That was the harsh reality they discovered, one faced later by the early church. The very men who should have welcomed Israel’s Messiah instead fought what he represented tooth and nail.

But to walk the same path of suffering and self-sacrifice as Jesus of Nazareth did how one becomes his faithful disciple. The student is “not above his master”! Only by “enduring to the end” can anyone be saved. If they persecuted their Lord, they certainly would have no qualms about mistreating his followers.

Rugged Trail - Photo by Anthony Gomez on Unsplash
[Photo by Anthony Gomez on Unsplash]

Jesus never promised his followers a life of ease and wealth. According to his clear teachings, they are to expect suffering and even persecution for his sake:

  • Think not that I came to send peace on the earth. I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be they of his own household.”

The Messiah does not wage war against humanity, but conflict begins whenever men reject him and his message. The persecution of his followers who emulate him is inevitable. While such statements strike us as grim, he also warned--:

  • He who does not take his cross to follow me is not worthy of me. For he that finds his life will lose it, and he that loses his life for my sake will find it.”

In the end, the faithful disciple will reap great rewards, but the narrow road that leads to life is rough and dangerous. Anyone who desires to become his disciple must first count the cost.

The call to follow the Crucified One is an all-or-nothing proposition. The half-hearted man who does not give Jesus his total allegiance will fall by the wayside when times become difficult.

This does not mean that all disciples experience persecution, but the potential and often real loss of all things for his sake is the price of following Jesus “wherever he leads.” For example, in the Book of Revelation, the followers of the slain “Lamb” are found standing majestically on “Mount Zion” with him. But before reaching that glorious summit, they first must overcome the “Dragon,” which they do by the “word and their testimony, and because they love not their lives even unto death.”

The implication of the last clause is martyrdom. In the same manner as did the “Faithful Witness,” namely, Jesus, his disciples qualify to reign with him on his Father’s throne - By remaining faithful even when doing so means death – (Revelation 1:4-6, 3:21, 12:11, 14:1-5).


On one occasion, Jesus foretold his impending arrest, trial, and execution to his disciples. But they either did not hear or were incapable of comprehending his words. In reaction, they began jockeying for positions in his Kingdom. He used the opportunity to teach them just what it meant to be the Messiah and a faithful disciple.

James and John asked to sit at his right and left when Jesus came “in his glory,” positions of great honor and power. But their request only highlighted their ignorance. As his words and DEEDS demonstrated, his servants serve others just as he did, and sacrifice, suffering, and death precede glory.

Jesus challenged James and John. “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” In the Hebrew Bible, the “cup” symbolizes something allotted by God, most often in the negative sense of judicial punishment. Hence, Jesus drank the “cup” of God’s wrath on behalf of others in his trial and execution - (Psalm 11:6, 16:5, Isaiah 57:17-22, Jeremiah 25:15-28).

His words were not just addressed to James and John, but also to all his disciples. Collectively, his followers endure suffering, deprivation, and persecution for the gospel. But since these two men desired high positions in his Kingdom, Jesus explained how one becomes “great” in his kingdom:

  • You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones tyrannize them. Not so will it be among you. But whoever wishes to become great among you will be your servant, and whoever desires to be first among you will be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Contrary to this world, “greatness” is achieved by self-sacrificial service for others, not by exercising DOMINION over others.


The one who wishes to become “great” must first become the “servant” of all. This term translates the Greek noun diakonos used elsewhere as a general term for “servant.” In the ancient Greek language, it referred to slaveS who waited on tables. And in the parallel passage in Luke, Jesus applied it in that very manner:

  • Let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest and the leader as the servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table, or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves” - (Luke 22:26-27).

Jesus was explicit. The disciple who desired to become “great” must first become the “slave” or doulos of others, just as the Messiah came “not to be served, but to serve, and to give his soul as a ransom instead of many.” Here, the Greek verb translated as “served” is the verbal form of the noun diakonos. The reference to a “ransom” alludes to a passage in the Book of Isaiah:

  • Therefore, I will give him a portion among the great, because he poured out to death his own soul, and with transgressors let himself be numbered, he the sin of Many bare, and for transgressors interposes” - (Isaiah 53:10-12).

Giving his life as a ransom for “many” did not mean a limited or exclusive company. The term was a verbal link to the passage in Isaiah where “the many” refers to the “transgressors.” The contrast is not between “many” and “all,” but between the one Christ who gave his life and the many beneficiaries of his sacrificial act.

Moreover, ransoms were paid to purchase the freedom of slaves. His statement was a declaration of his mission - to give his life to free others from enslavement to sin, death, and Satan.

By responding to the disciples in this way, Jesus used his example to demonstrate what it meant for anyone to become his disciple, both then and now. His call to service is applicable to everyone who wishes to follow him. The self-seeking man or woman cannot be his disciple. To follow the “Lamb wherever he goes” means walking the same path that he did.



Salvation for the Nations

His Name is Jesus