Easter Five Day devotional

Day Five – What does it Mean to Follow Jesus?

At the center of the Christian life is not a set of practices, but instead a relationship. A Christian is not defined as someone who attends church services, stays away from certain vices, and votes for a particular political party. A Christian is someone who has placed their full trust in Jesus and his gospel. A Christian is someone who has been rescued from sin and hell, and who is now a child of God through his grace. A Christian is someone who has joyfully chosen to follow Jesus.

Following Jesus, and obeying him, is not what makes someone a Christian. Following Jesus is the evidence that someone has already become a Christian. So, what does it mean to follow Jesus?

Faith-Fueled Obedience

When Jesus told his first followers to make more disciples (followers of Jesus), he said, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). In John 14:15 he said straightforwardly, “If you love me, keep my commands.” Obedience to Jesus flows out of our faith in him and our love for him. The idea is not that we slavishly obey random commands, but that our obedience is fueled by our trust in Jesus. He is trustworthy, and so we listen to him and obey him. We treat him as the Lord, and we joyfully follow him.

The Core Command

The central command that Jesus gave relates to love. He said in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus says that the main mark of his followers is not church attendance or even miraculous works. It is love. 

This love is meant to go out from us to the whole world, even to those we might call our enemies (Matthew 5:44). But it is meant to be directed especially to other believers (“love one another”). This is because Christians are all part of the same family. Just as we show special love and priority to the members of our own family, we show special love and priority to other believers in Jesus.

If we are going to show this focused love to other believers, then this means that we need to a part of a local church. When we belong to a local church, we commit ourselves to love and serve other believers in practical ways. As opposed to treating the church as an organization that provides us with religious goods and services, we treat the church as if it is a family that we belong to. It the main arena in which we practice Jesus’ command to love.

Jesus’ central command to love one another also points us toward the idea that his other commands fall under the umbrella of showing love to God and love to others. Jesus expressed this idea in Matthew 22:37-40: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ j All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” 

This does not mean that we only need to “love” others and we don’t need to worry about obedience in other areas. This means that Jesus’ other commands flow out of the command to love. We reserve sex for marriage alone because this is an expression of love to God and to others. We stay away from cruel and thoughtless words because we are commanded to love. We maintain integrity with our finances—and we give generously—because of the command to love one another. Love is not simply the most important command; it is the command that serves as the umbrella for all other commands.


A life of obedience to Jesus is also a life marked by repentance. Jesus constantly called his hearers to repent (Matthew 4:17). To repent is to change both our thinking and our behavior. It is to turn away from sin and selfishness, and to turn toward Jesus and his guidance. We repent when we first become believers, and then we consistently repent when we fall short.

While repentance may seem unpleasant (after all, it involves admitting that we have done something wrong), there is great joy to us in repentance. The reason for this is that we don’t have to wonder if God will forgive us. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Not only does God always forgive us, but he also offers us help as we look to turn away from sin and turn toward him. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

As followers of Jesus, repentance becomes an invitation. We are invited to turn away from our destructive sin and to turn toward God for forgiveness and help. We know that we are forgiven because Jesus has already paid the price for all of our sins, and we know that God will help us because we are now his children. So, we live lives of joyful and consistent repentance.

Communion with God

But following Jesus is not just about what we do, but about who we are. As children of God, we get to live in communion with God. We get to experience his presence in our lives through prayer, worship, Scripture, fellowship with other Christians, and Spirit-led obedience. We get to live in the constant reality that God is with us and that he loves us. We get to live in light of the great promise in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

On top of all of this, we know that even death will not separate us from God’s love. Death is not the end for us because when we die, we are reunited with the Lord Jesus. And then we look forward to a final resurrection of our bodies when we will live with God in new bodies on a renewed earth. Near the end of the Bible we get a picture of this. Revelation 21:1-4 says, “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ u or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 

Our communion with God will culminate with the new earth, but our communion with God starts right now as we walk in step with him through faith-fueled obedience.


  1. What specific steps of faith-fueled obedience do you think God is calling you to right now?
  2. Is there anything that you need to repent of? If so, how can you repent joyfully?

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