Ricardo Graham —
Recently, while driving down a rural road, I saw a herd of sheep. One of them, apparently a mother, was grazing near the fence adjacent to the road. A little lamb followed closely behind her, nibbling the vegetation near its feet. It struck me as a serendipitous illustration of what I am supposed to be doing—following the Lamb, Jesus Christ.
As I continued my drive, my mind began an impromptu self-evaluation of my spiritual walk, with several questions. How closely am I walking in the footsteps of Jesus? Am I walking close behind Him, following His example, or am I a straying lamb, not living by His principles of obedience, love, mercy, justice, and humility? Am I a reluctant follower or am I eager to seek His presence and emulate His lifestyle? Many other questions flooded my mind as I followed the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
Truly, Jesus is worthy of our worship, praise, and adulation. After all, John the Baptist declared Him to be “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, KJV). The disciple and Gospel writer Matthew recorded that He would save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). But Jesus is much more than a Savior from sin. He claims rulership over all, because He is Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer—and much more.
He is the only example among men whose life we can safely copy in all respects. John the Revelator states that one quality of the 144,000—that special group presented to the Father as the first fruit of the redeemed—is that “they follow the Lamb wherever he goes” (Revelation 14:4. NIV). That may be the most notable fact—whether literal or symbolic—we have about this group. They follow the Lamb, Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
What does it take to follow the Lamb? Choosing daily to submit to His authority and to practice self-denial is essential, of course. Surrendering the will and faithfully obeying His directives are non-negotiable with Jesus.
The character transformation so needed among us is not dependent on a slavish obedience to Christ’s will but to the deep desire to please the One who died to redeem us from the power, penalty, and presence of sin. In this process, we accept the recommendation of Paul: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5, KJV).
The challenge is to examine ourselves under the microscope of God’s Word—are we really living out the faith of which Jesus is the “author and finisher”? (See Hebrews 12:2.) Doing so often results in accepting His Lordship over our lives willingly, lovingly, and completely. And, measuring ourselves by Jesus’ life, we can determine how well we are doing.
When we examine our lives, we may realize that we’ve a long way to go to arrive at where the Lord wants us to be, in Him. Yet we can be confident that as we continue to follow the Lamb, surrendering daily, He will make us what He wants us to be. The work of our salvation is fully in His hands, the hands that were willingly outstretched for us and nailed to the cross for our sins, transgressions, and iniquities. We receive the merits of His holiness by faith, and that faith results in practical righteousness that glorifies and pleases God.
And one day, because we have followed the Lamb spiritually, we will live with Him physically. This is our hope and desire, to be with the Lamb. The best part of eternity may be the wonderful opportunity to stand, sit, or kneel in the presence of the Lamb of God, the Conquering King of Kings, and Lord of Lords—and praise Him for His sacrificial service to sinners like us, making us fit to live with Him throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity.
Ricardo Graham is president of the Pacific Union Conference. This piece was originally published in slightly different form in the Recorder.