Posted by: rcottrill | April 9, 2018

Following Jesus

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Words: Leonard W. Weaver (late 19th century)
Music: Mary E. Upham Currier (b. _____; d. Nov. 8, 1909)

Links:
Wordwise Hymn (none)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: In 1904, Englishman Leonard Weaver and an American, Mary (Upham) Currier, combined their gifts to write a gospel song called Following Jesus. Some hymn books have the title as “The Lord Is My Shepherd,” but this would seem too easily confused with other hymns. Nevertheless, it will be seen that this is another of many hymns with allusions to Psalm 23.

Weaver, born in England in the late nineteenth century, provided the words. He became a pastor and evangelist, eventually moving to Grimsby, in southern Ontario (a few miles from where I was born, and lived many years). Mary Currier, composer of the tune, lived in Massachusetts. She was a friend and distant cousin of Fanny Crosby.

The Flat Earth Society was founded on the theories of English writer Samuel Rowbotham (1816–1884). Their idea is that the earth is not a sphere, but a flat disk, with the North Pole at the centre, and the South Pole forming a one hundred and fifty foot wall of ice all around the outside–apparently to keep us from falling off!

The notion defies logic. If this were so, we would all have daylight at the same time, and night at the same time–which we don’t. Further, the flat earthers must reject scientific discovery. Mr. Rowbotham lived in a time before space travel. We now have the ability to view the world from space, and see that it’s round, not flat.

Even so, there are still those who cling to the idea. Adherents are planning a conference in Edmonton, Alberta, not far from us, featuring speakers from “all over the Flat Earth,” and expecting hundreds of people to attend. Quipped someone on their Facebook page, “Will there be a meet and greet? I’d love to get my globe signed.”

Followers of this theory are either deceived by others, or self-deceived. But it’s amazing what some will believe–at times with tragic results. Consider the Peoples Temple, a cult led by Jim Jones (1931-1978). Following him led to death. In their colony in Guyana, South America, on an order from Jones, over nine hundred of them committed suicide (a third of these children), by drinking Kool-Aid laced with cyanide. Jim Jones was later found dead of a gunshot wound, another apparent suicide. Following a leader requires a decision that may be life-changing, or even deadly.

In the Bible, all the way from Genesis (Gen. 24:5, 61) to Revelation (Rev. 14:13; 19:14), some form of the word “follow” is used nearly three hundred times. In the Gospels alone it’s found more than eighty times, sometimes as direct command from the Lord Jesus Christ.

“He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ They immediately left their nets and followed Him” (Matt. 4:19-20).

In fact, “Great multitudes followed Him” (Matt. 4:25), but not always for the right reasons. Some did so because they were amazed and entertained by His miracles. Others because they were hoping Jesus would become a revolutionary leader to free them from Roman tyranny. Christ recognized that not all had put their faith in Him (Jn. 6:64). And following Him was going to be costly.

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24).

Perhaps at that challenge to self sacrifice, there came a day when, “many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (Jn. 6:66). Would the twelve do the same, He asked.

“Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’” (Jn. 6:68-69).

The Lord Jesus compared true discipleship to sheep following a shepherd. The animals were dependent on him for their food, and their protection. They needed to stay close to the shepherd. And Jesus said the shepherd “goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (Jn. 10:4). And He declared, “I am the Good Shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own (vs. 14).

CH-1) I have a Shepherd, one I love so well;
How He has blessed me tongue can never tell;
On the cross He suffered, shed His blood, and died,
That I might ever in His love confide.

Following Jesus ever day by day,
Nothing can harm me when He leads the way;
Sunshine or shadow, whate’er befall,
Jesus my Shepherd is my All in All.

CH-2) Pastures abundant doth His hand provide,
Still waters flowing ever at my side;
Goodness and mercy follow on my track;
With such a Shepherd nothing can I lack.

CH-4) When the work is over and the journey done,
Then He will lead me safely to my home;
There I shall dwell in rapture pure and sweet,
And with the loved ones gather at His feet.

Questions:
1) What are the different aspects of the Lord’s shepherd care that particularly bless and encourage you?

2) What other hymns do you know that take up this theme?

Links:
Wordwise Hymn (none)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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