Why do you follow Jesus Christ? If you sat down and came up with a short list of benefits on why you follow Jesus, what would that list look like? What would you write down?
Because, the truth is, we wouldn’t want to follow anyone unless there are advantages and benefits to following that person. It would be better and much healthier to just stand on our own. I could come up with a long list of people I would not follow for 5 seconds, never mind a lifetime of placing hope in them. If I was driving behind them on the interstate, I would either slow down or speed up to get away from them. My “Do not follow” list is very long in the year 2015. My “I will pray for you” list is also very long in 2015.
So, why do you follow Jesus? Have you ever reflected on that question? There’s a couple pretty good reasons in the Gospel: healing and power over death. If you knew someone in this world who held that kind of power, would you follow them? Would you become their disciple? I certainly would. Just touch their tunic and be healed of that cancer or high cholesterol. Or, have them touch the hand of someone who just died, and have the dead person brought back to life. No tricks, no magic, no fooling, no deception. Just pure power over death.
As we know – I hope – there are many benefits and good reasons to follow Jesus. But it’s good to remind ourselves of some of those reasons lest we come here and go through the motions, fulfilling our Sunday obligation, moving on to breakfast until we return next week, I hope. It’s good to remind ourselves why we choose to continue to be Christian – for it is a daily choice at most of our ages – in a world where skepticism and doubt play a prominent role in the lives of so many people. Maybe even some of us.
To use some tennis language, advantage to Jesus in the life and death department. In fact, there is no other person who has lived and ever will live who holds the keys to life the way Christ does. When Jesus says, “Talitha koum,” his voice is the only voice the spirit of that 12-year old girl will hear, obey, and return to her body. And Jesus doesn’t even say, “Spirit of this young girl, whoever and wherever you are, return to her body.” The tender command is given directly to the girl like…she’s sleeping, and not dead. “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” Very similar to the words, “Lazarus, come out!” Jesus talks to the person, and the spirit knows what to do.
But, she is dead. Which is why all the people at the synagogue official’s house get angry at Jesus when he tells them she’s sleeping. So, who’s right? Who’s got the advantage, to use some tennis language? They’re both right! The people are correct in saying she died. But the higher truth is that she is sleeping because Jesus fully knows that he is going to raise her to make it appear to all present that…she was sleeping. He woke her up…from the other side of life.
Advantage Jesus in the category of life and death. If this reason is not on the very top of our list for following Jesus Christ – that he, and only he, has power over death, our greatest enemy – then the priorities of our faith are mixed up. Jesus’ power over death is the very first reason why I do what I do, and why I follow Jesus Christ the Savior of the world. Because I want life after my death, and, when Jesus returns in all his glory, I want it forever and ever in the resurrected body. Whatever that looks like! I don’t need to know all the details, but to trust in the number one reason why we follow the Christ.
A second reason to follow Jesus is the woman afflicted with hemorrhages. When I get to heaven I want to personally thank her for having the courage to, first, have the gall to touch the tunic of this God-man; second, to believe it was actually going to make a difference in her condition; and third, to possess the humility and honesty that she’s the one that touched Jesus’ garment when Jesus whipped around and said, “Who has touched my clothes?”
By the way, as a short aside, this question of Jesus, “Who has touched my clothes?” is why we cherish and hold dear relics of the saints in the Catholic Church. Because they are connected to the holiness of the person they belonged to.
Back to the woman I want to thank in heaven. The result of her touching the clothes of Jesus, which is her being cured, is why I want to follow Jesus. However, she had a great advantage over us. Her advantage was to live at the same time as Jesus in that short 3-year window of his public ministry; being present in the same location as Jesus, which most of the living world at that time was not; and, being fortunate enough that Jesus, while speaking, turned his back on her so she could sneak up and touch his clothes with faith in her heart. Her advantage was that she was there, in the presence of Jesus Christ.
Our present disadvantage, if you will, is that we have to wait. Yes, there are miracles each day, where God’s generous Spirit touches and removes diseases and ailments to the human body. But the advantage of following Jesus is that, just as that holy woman’s hemorrhaging stopped immediately upon touch, so will every attack on our bodies be done away with in the presence of Jesus. She waited 12 years for the Lord to show up. We wait also. We wait for this certain power of Christ to touch us. For most of us, not until after death.
The list is very long on the benefits of why to follow our Lord and Savior. These are only two of them at the top; power over death and freeing us from all disease, granting us peace. Know what Christ has planned for you for being faithful to him. And trust in the Lord at all times, for he is an eternal Rock.