Sermon #1336[1]                                      Miscellaneous Sermons


          Title:            “Follow THOU Me”

          Text:            John 21:18-22

          Readings:     Office: Mark Henson Auditorium: Bobbie Estes

          Subject:       Following Christ

          Date:            Tuesday Evening - March 2, 1999

          Tape #         V-15b



          Let me give you the background of my text before I read it and bring the message it contains. The Lord Jesus gave his last message to his disciples. You can read the Savior’s final instructions to his church in chapters 13-16. In chapter 17 he made that great high priestly prayer to God the Father as our Mediator. Then, in chapter 18, he is in the garden, praying with Peter, James, and John, anticipating all that he must suffer as our Substitute, when a band of soldiers, led by Judas, came to arrest him.


1.   When these soldiers came to arrest him, Peter arose immediately to defend his Master, without regard for his own life (v. 10).


2.   Our Savior voluntarily gave himself up to be crucified by wicked men upon the condition that his own elect would be spared (vv. 8-12).


3.   The Savior was led away to the judgment hall, where Peter denied him three times (18:27).


4.   Our blessed Substitute accomplished our redemption by the sacrifice of himself upon the cursed tree (19:28-30).


5.   On the third day, early in the morning, Christ arose from the grave, triumphing over it for us (20:1-17).


NOTE: There seems to be a difficulty here. It is obvious that our Lord, being crucified on Friday afternoon and resurrected on Sunday morning was in the grave (to our way of thinking) only one full day (Saturday), the Friday evening preceding it and Sunday morning following it. But that is no problem at all. The Jews calculated any part of a night or day as a whole. Calculating as they did, our Lord was in the tomb the day and night of Friday, the day and night of Saturday, and the night (the time preceding dawn) and day of Sunday.


·        He appeared to Mary Magadalene.

·        He appeared to the disciples, Thomas being absent.

·        Then he appeared to them one week later when Thomas was present.


1.   Now, in chapter 21, he appears a third time to his disciples, specifically to restore Peter, to confirm his love to Peter and Peter’s love to him.


          You know the story. When Peter had publicly confessed, “Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee,” the Lord gave him this charge - “Feed my sheep.” Peter had denied his Master three times. Here he confesses his heartfelt love for Christ three times and is commissioned by the Lord three times to feed his people.


          Now, let’s read our text - (vv. 18-22).


John 21:18-22  "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. (19) This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. (20) Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? (21) Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? (22) Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me."


          The Lord Jesus told Peter how that he would be required to suffer and die for the glory of God. Impetuous and sometimes fickle in his youth, Peter was assured that in the end he would be faithful unto death. And he was. He was crucified at Rome because of his faithfulness to Christ. When the Lord Jesus gave Peter this word of assurance, he said to him, “Follow me” (vv. 18-19).


John 21:18-19  "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. (19) This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me."


          Then, as they walked along the beach, Peter saw John following. That is what a disciple is supposed to do. But when Peter saw John, he said, “Lord, you have told me what I must do, but what about John, what is he to do?” (vv. 20-21).


John 21:20-21  "Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? (21) Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?"


          At that point, the Lord must have stopped, turned to Peter, and looking squarely into his eyes, he gave this stern admonition and reproof - “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me” (v. 22).


          Here is a message directly from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ to you and me. He says, “Follow thou me!”


          If the Spirit of God will enable me, I want to talk to your heart and my own about following Christ.


Proposition: It is our responsibility in all things ever to follow Christ.




1.   Our primary responsibility in life is to follow Christ.

2.   If we would follow Christ, we must subject everything to his sovereign will.

3.   It is most reasonable that we should confine ourselves to this one life-long occupation - Following Christ.!




          I know the consequences, ramifications, and implications of what I am saying. I know what it will cost us if we dare to do what the Lord commands. But, oh how I pray that God will give us grace to hear and obey his Word. I am talking to my own heart as well as yours.


The main business of your life, the primary, all-consuming business of your life and mine, is to follow Christ. We live in vain if we do not live for God! Indeed, it were better for you and me had we never been born, than that we should live and die without Christ. The Lord Jesus says to you and me, “Follow me…Follow thou me!”


A.  This is the command of the gospel.


          Many today try to separate salvation from discipleship. They suggest that there may be faith in Christ without a following of Christ. But that is not so. In Bible terms, to believe on Christ is to follow Christ (Matt. 4:18-22; 16:24-26; 19:20-22).


Matthew 4:18-22  "And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. (19) And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (20) And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. (21) And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. (22) And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him."


Matthew 16:24-26  "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (25) For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (26) For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"


Matthew 19:20-22  "The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? (21) Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. (22) But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions."


          If you are yet without Christ, I want you to hear me. May God help you to hear me. You would be wise to make the salvation of your immortal soul the primary concern of your life. Make your soul your first care, if necessary, to the neglect of all other things. What shall it profit you, if you should gain the whole world and lose your own soul?


1.   If you are without Christ, you are under the wrath of God, cursed and condemned because of your sin.

2.   If you die without Christ, you shall forever suffer the wrath of God in hell.

3.   Will you follow Christ and be forever saved; or will you follow your own devices and be forever damned? (Deut. 30:15, 19).


Deuteronomy 30:15  "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;"


Deuteronomy 30:19  "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:"


·        To follow Christ is to seek Him.

·        To follow Christ is to trust Him.

·        To follow Christ is to submit to his dominion.

·        To follow Christ is to be saved by Him. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” This is the Lord’s commandment to you - “Follow thou me!”


B. This is also the character of faith.


          Faith follows Christ. My brothers and sisters in the grace of God, having been saved by Christ, having been washed in his precious blood, robed in his perfect righteousness and born again by his Holy Spirit, our Master’s word to us is “Follow thou me!”


The main, primary, all-encompassing business of our life is to follow Christ. When sin is pardoned and salvation is secure, the one thing we must do is follow Christ. Peter was a believer, a preacher and an apostle. And this was our Lord’s command to him - “Follow me…Follow thou me!”


C. H. Spurgeon said, “The one thing we are to aim at is, to tread in Christ’s footsteps, to do what he did; and, as far as he is imitable by us, to do it as he did it, and to be as he was in the midst of the sons and daughters of men.” (See Titus 2:11-14).


          A disciple is one who learns to live the life his teacher lives. Discipleship is more than getting to know what the teacher teaches. It is getting to be what the teacher is. And Christianity is more than believing the doctrine of Christ. Christianity is following Christ. It is seeking to mold my life after Christ. If I am a child of God, I am not a follower of Calvin, Gill, or Spurgeon, or any other mere man. I am a follower of Christ, I seek to mold my doctrine, my thoughts, my words, my character, and my deeds after the example of Christ. Christ himself is the rule and pattern of my life (John 13:15; 1 Pet. 2:21).


          We are trees of God’s planting, set in his vineyard to bring forth fruit for God’s praise. If we would do what we were created to do, we must follow Christ. This is the life, the character, and the business of faith (Phil. 3).


1.   God has given every believer a place, position, and gifts, in which to serve him, which nobody else can occupy.


          This is the vocation to which we are called. No matter what your earthly occupation is, if you are in Christ, you are first and foremost his servant. That is your occupation. God has put you where you are, with the gifts, talents, abilities and opportunities you have to influence and minister to other people, whom no one else can reach, for the glory of his name.


·        All saved sinners are missionaries.

·        All saved sinners are his witnesses.

·        All saved sinners are martyrs!


          I do not believe that any child of God was created just to run a business, keep records, build houses, connect water pipes, sell insurance, or teach school There is something greater for you and me to do. We were created to serve the cause of God our Savior in the place of our calling, for the glory of his name (1 Cor. 7:20-24).


1 Corinthians 7:20-24  "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. (21) Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. (22) For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. (23) Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. (24) Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God."


          God has put you and me where we are, with the gifts, talents, and means we have to seek the salvation of those people who are under our influence for the glory of his name. This is you life’s business, occupation, and calling - “Follow thou me!” (See John 20:21; Heb. 12:1-2).


John 20:21  "Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you."


Hebrews 12:1-2  "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (2) Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."




          When Peter learned what he must suffer and endure for Christ, he looked at John and said, “And what shall this man do?” And the Lord’s answer to him was, “What is that to thee? Follow thou me!”


A.  If we would follow Christ, we must not concern ourselves with the responsibilities of others.


          It is true that we are all members of the body of Christ. And we work and labor together for one cause -- the glory of God. All God’s people together preach his Word, feed his sheep, and promote his glory.


But each individual believer is the Lord’s servant. And we must recognize that every man stands or falls before his own Master. We must each be occupied with our own responsibilities, our own ministries, our own calling, and our own faithfulness. We must not concern ourselves with how, when, or where God is pleased to use others.


1.   We gladly help others as they serve Christ - Missionaries, churches, pastors, etc.


2.   But we must not seek to govern others in their service for Christ. We leave them in the hands of God.


3.   And we must not allow ourselves to be turned aside by others from our own responsibilities.


          I am not responsible for what God has called you to do. But I am responsible for what he has called me to do.


·        What God does with you is his business.

·        What you do for God is your business and his, not mine.

·        What I do for God is my business and his, not yours.


Romans 14:4  "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand."


B. If we would follow Christ, we must not concern ourselves with foolish and unlearned questions (2 Tim. 2:22-24).


2 Timothy 2:22-24  "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (23) But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. (24) And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,"


1.     The origin of evil.

2.     The relation between divine sovereignty and human responsibility.

3.     The mysteries of prophecy.

4.     The secret counsels of God (Deut. 29:29).


C. And if we would follow Christ, we must not concern ourselves with our own personal interests, needs, or relations. We must lose our life if we would save it!


1.     I must follow Christ whether my family follows him or not.


2.     I must follow Christ, regardless of personal preference.


3.     I must follow Christ, regardless of personal costs.


4.     And I must do so willingly (2 Tim. 2:8-10.


2 Timothy 2:8-10  "Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: (9) Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. (10) Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."


Illustration: Jephthah




          I know that I am calling for costly commitment, that will require of us many things which are contrary to the flesh, things that will be often misunderstood and misrepresented by people around us. I am calling for you and me to give ourselves in unreserved commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and the gospel of his grace. Our Master says, to you and me, “Follow thou me.” But his command is most reasonable.


A.  He bought us (1 Cor. 6:19-20).


          Shall we take that which belongs to Christ and waste it upon vanity?


B. Our powers are so limited.


          I know some of my own limitations. I would like to use what little ability God has given me in the work of following Christ, preaching the gospel, and seeking to bring others to follow him.


C. Our time is so limited!


          “The time is short” (1 Cor. 7:29). Let us therefore redeem the time we have (Eph. 5:16) and use it wisely, following Christ!


          My brother, my sister, do not allow anyone to divert you from the straight path of obedience to Christ. To that, above everything else, we have been called! How I pray that we might, each one of us, live to glorify God, that we might each be like an arrow shot from Christ’s bow, by his own pierced hand, to the target of God’s glory. Let nothing turn us aside from the path of obedience.


          I wonder what God would have us to do, individually and collectively, as members of this church. I wonder what God might do with us, if we will but obey his command and follow Christ!


You are all free men and women, free born children of God, I will not prescribe for you what to do. I simply call upon you to obey the direction of God the Holy Spirit and follow Christ.


Perhaps you are thinking, “But, pastor, what can I do?”


1.     You are Christ’s witness; so tell sinners about him.

2.     Use your money to support the gospel.

·        Here at home!

·        Missionaries!

3.     Distribute tapes, tracts, and books.

4.     Take care of the church property.

5.     Minister to one another.


Illustration: The Preacher and the Business Man.




1.     Follow Christ - This is the command of the gospel.

2.     Follow Christ - This is the life of faith.

3.     If we do follow Christ now by faith, soon we will follow him home to heaven (John 13:36).


John 13:36  "Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards."



[1] See also Sermon #919 preached at Danville, Sunday morning 7/1/1990, at Lexington, KY 7/4/90. This Message:  Wichita Falls, TX - 5-18-99, San Leandro, CA - 4-17-99 Covenant of Grace (N. Wilkesboro, NC) 6-6-99