The Thankful Heart That Follows
They Did Not Comprehend John 1:1-5, 10-12
Jesus’ mission was to come to earth to give men power to become sons of God. Without that power mankind is destined to be enslaved by sin and eternally damned. Jesus shined in man’s darkness but men did not comprehend Him, He created their world but they did not know Him, He came to His own creation but they would not receive Him, (and most still do not) but to those who did receive Him— He gave the power to become sons of God with eternal promise. That is to say that those who respond with a thankful heart follow Jesus into the promise that He alone came to deliver.
Thankful Hearts Matthew 16:24-26
Peter was one that responded to Jesus with a thankful heart. We know that he was truly thankful because his life demonstrated thankfulness. Thankfulness is not found in a word or even in a hug or a kiss. True thankfulness is expressed in action over time—time and time again. That is why following is a wonderful definition of being thankful. Jesus said if anyone would come after me let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow.
Peter first met Jesus through the invitation of his brother Andrew who had been following John the Baptist. (John 1:40-42) When John announced that Jesus was the “Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” Andrew went to meet Jesus and spent some time with him. Later, Andrew told his brother Peter all about him. “We have found the Messiah”, said Andrew. On another day Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee as the two brothers were preparing to go out and fish (Matthew 4:18-20). Jesus called out to them to follow Him and they both immediately did so. Their decision to follow Jesus was less impulsive than the scriptures infer. There was likely much discussion and thinking that took place between Peter and his brother, but by the time Jesus asked them to follow they were ready.
Peter and Andrew were thankful that the Messiah (Lit. Anointed One: Prophesied deliverer) had actually appeared to them and wanted them to follow and become a part of his plan. Are you thankful of this same invitation in your own life? Will you follow?
Following John 6:48-61, 66-68, 1 John 4:18-19
True thankfulness continues to show itself in following long after others leave. In the passage above, Peter seeks to understand Jesus’ difficult statement while others become offended and leave Him. When Jesus asked His disciples if they would also stop followingPeter responded by saying “who else would we go to? We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” When a person is truly thankful they are not easily offended by the one who they are thankful for. By following Jesus, Peter had come to believe and know who Jesus was. Although Peter was often confounded by what Jesus said, Peter knew that Jesus always spoke the truth. As a result of his resolve to continue to follow Christ, Peter grew in wisdom and faith.
Peter always followed Christ even when others left Him. Peter even followed Christ after His arrest (Matthew 26:58). Before that arrest, Peter told Jesus that he would even follow Him into death (John 13:37-38), but Jesus knew better. Peter would deny Christ out of fear and hate himself for it (Matthew 26:74-75)., but his fear would later become overthrown by the renewed thankfulness that he experienced in Christ’s forgiveness (John 21:15-19).
Peter would go onto die as a martyr because of his quest to follow Jesus. Tradition tells us that Peter died as a martyr. When he was given the choice of how he should die, he said, “I’d like to be crucified up-side-down because I am unworthy to die as my Lord died.” The Scriptures do not record this request of Peter. However, John 21:16,19 alludes to the fact that Peter would die a martyr’s death.
A Thankful heart will always follow its benefactor in love. And if that love be true, then even fear itself will not stand in its path. 1 John 4:18-19
Are You Following Jesus? 1 John 3:18, James 2:14-19
Are you a thankful person? Does your thankfulness extend into the action of following? Are you thankful for the mission of Jesus calling you to become sons (daughters) of God? Are you following Him in appreciation of His grace and love towards you? Are you following Him regardless of what others say or do? Are you following Him even though it means that you must deny yourself. Are you following Him even though some of His words confuse or offend you? Are you following despite your fears? Are you responding in love to the one who first loved you?
Our response to Jesus is not to be lip service. We are called to respond to God’s grace and love in deed and truth. Our thankfulness will show itself in deed. Our faith will be evidenced by our following. Let’s follow Jesus together, and may we never forget… His blessings are only available to those that do.