A Reason to Follow
As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. (Luke 23:26-28)
Jesus always had a large crowd of people who followed him. Some of these crowds would be numbered near or over 20,000. Matthew told of a time when Jesus fed a large crowd of people, where the men alone were 5,000, excluding women and children. On Palm Sunday, some of these people might have made up the crowd that entered Jerusalem with Jesus or came out for Jesus to welcome Him. Then there was also a crowd that walked with Jesus on his way to the cross. Luke said, “a great number of people followed him.”
These crowds followed Jesus for a variety of reasons. Jesus said many of them followed him not because they believed him or for what he did, but because they were filled. In addition, there were those whom he had healed and those who wanted to see miracles and hear his teachings. There were twelve disciples and another seventy who followed Jesus so he might teach them to be “fishers of mankind.” Among these crowds there was a small minority who followed Jesus that they might falsely accuse him, kill him and end his ministry. Then there was another crowd that followed Jesus to the cross. I wonder what the reasons the people in this last crowd had as they followed Jesus to his death.
The church is a crowd of people who follow Jesus, Easter people if I may say. This last crowd of people followed Jesus not only to the cross but to his grave and resurrection. Some were long time followers, men and women. Some were strangers and some were new, such as Simon of Cyrene. Some were family members. Some were disciples. Some were cross-carriers. Some were priests and lawyers. And some were crucifiers and criminals. Why did they follow or go with Jesus to his death? As we face the challenges of these days and Easter Day, let’s ask ourselves again the reason we follow Jesus, or the reason we go to church. Is it because of love or because of who He is and who is to come, or for the necessity of life and self-gratification?
God of love and God of power, I pray for your people, those who have followed you and for my own faith. I pray for everyone of them that we may follow you wholeheartedly by love and faithfulness regardless of the challenges we are facing each day. Give us courage and faith to follow you to the end of the age. In your precious name, Amen.