The first three Red Letter Words in my King James Version of the gospel according to St John are both eternal and penetrating. Reading these words, consciously for the first time when I was about twelve years of age should have made an impression on my soul which remains to this very day. This version has the words of Jesus in red making it more significant. The words are personal and direct and every human being ever lived irrespective of colour and creed has to encounter. In the context of the story Jesus put this question to the very first two people who followed him. In that sense, I must answer this question with integrity to the one whom I seek to follow. What do I seek in following Jesus Christ?
Why do I follow Jesus Christ? I have considered a range of answers found in the Christian tradition and in the stories from the earthly days of Jesus. Some followed him for his teachings and others for his miracles. Some sought Jesus for healing and many went after him to question and challenge him. Towards the end many followed him singing praises and equally others crying, ‘crucify him! Crucify him!’ This wide range of reasons to follow Jesus remains alive and well to this day. Most people seem to follow Jesus for relief from their present predicaments while some follow him for no personal gain but for who he is. The gospel narratives give us an impression of Jesus which transcends all human comprehension yet utterly familiar. We recognise him as one of us while at the same time not one of us based on our human experience. This state of paradox is what frustrates many who seek to follow him. Hence, his question to us becomes ultimate – what seek ye?
My awkward answer to that penetrating question would be the one similar to that of St Peter. ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? For you have the words of eternal life.’ I can follow no other nor can I go to any but Jesus. His destiny was the cross which I dread and hence hesitate. But, unless a seed falls to the ground it cannot bear fruit. This is not good news for many to whom eye for an eye remains the choice. While the many still chose the path of ‘eye for an eye’ that leads to darkness, Jesus remains the light of the world for some. I for one would seek to follow the ‘Lamb of God’ the ‘Light of the World!’