Following and leading

John 15--10

From John 15:10 (AMP) comes the Verse of the Day for July 14, 2016:

If you keep My commandments and obey My teaching, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.

Jesus Christ provides the perfect example of obedience and love that we should follow. In other places in the Gospels, the Lord also speaks of the importance of following:

Matthew 16:24

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.

One of the metaphors used by Jesus Christ is that of being the Good Shepherd, as John 10:27 reveals this truth:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

Paul also encourages believers to follow him, just as he follows Christ:

 

1 Corinthians 11:1:

Be ye followers of me, even as I also [am] of Christ.

1 John 2:3-6 (NLT) also speaks of the keeping the commandments as a demonstration of love, as we walk in love, just as Christ walked in love:

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

1 Peter 2:21 (NLT) emphasizes the necessity of following Christ’s example:

For God called you to do good, even if it means sufferingjust as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

In reflecting on the Verse of the Day and other verses related to “following,” a number of songs associated with “leading” and “following” come to mind. I recall two children’s ministry songs that were sung as a medley:

The Lord knows the way to the wilderness,

All I need to do is follow.

 

The Lord knows the way to the wilderness,

All I need to do is follow.

 

These lyrics were followed by this chorus:

Following Jesus, ever day by day,

Nothing can harm me since He knows the way.

Sunshine or shadow, whatever befall.

Jesus, my Savior, is my all and all.

Growing up in the church, I recall lyrics to a number of “vintage hymns” related to leading and following, but one in particular stands out: “He leadeth Me” by Joseph Gilmore:

Psalmsandhymns.org reveals the circumstances behind Gilmore’s writing of this beloved song:

As a young man I recently had been graduated from Brown University and Newton Theological Institution, I was supplying for a couple of Sundays the pulpit of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia. At the mid-week service, on the 26th of March 1862, I set out to give the people an exposition of the Twenty-third Psalm, which I had given before on three or four occasions, but this time I did not get further than the words “He leadeth me.” Those words took hold of me as they had never done before, and I saw them in a significance and wondrous beauty of which I had never dreamed.

It was the darkest hour of the Civil War, I did not refer to that fact – that is, I don’t think I did – but it may subconsciously have led me to realize that God’s leadership is the one significant fact in human experience, that it makes no difference how we are led, or whither we are lead, so long as we are sure God is leading us.

At the close of the meeting a few of us in the parlor of my host, good Deacon Wattson, kept on talking about the thought which I had emphasized; and then and there, on a blank page of the brief from which I had intended to speak, I penciled the hymn, talking and writing at the same time, then handed it to my wife and thought no more about it. She sent it to The Watchman and Reflector, a paper published in Boston, where it was sprinted. I did not know until 1865 that my hymn had been set to music by William B. Bradbury. I went to Rochester to preach as a candidate before the Second Baptist Church. Going into their chapel on arrival in the city, I picked up a hymnal to see what they were singing, and opened it at my own hymn, “He Leadeth Me.”

William Bradbury added the last two lines of the chorus, “His faithful foll’wer I would be, for by His hand he leadeth me” as he put it to music.

Candi Pearson offers this classic rendering of this great hymn of the Christian Church:

 

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