It means, first of all, that we are to live a Nazareth life. The Church has not emphasised that name Nazareth as it should be emphasised. Nazareth stands for the simple, plain, homely, commonplace life lived, day by day, in a narrow cottage, and a wood-working carpenter’s shop, and amongst His fellow townsmen of Nazareth. “Follow Me” here means this, that just where the Master has put us, in a humble corner, in a shut-away corner, or elsewhere, where He has placed us, in the daily treadmill round, we are to live as He lived, glorifying the commonplace by the fragrance of His presence. And if the old Church of Christ would learn this Nazareth lesson the whole service of winning the world back home would be immensely shortened in its time.
Then it means, without any doubt, a Wilderness for you, as for Him. The wilderness meant temptation and struggle, and,—underscore this and,—and victory. We are to follow Him. There will be temptation; there will be struggles if we are true to Him; and there will be victory; and both of these will be continuous. The temptations won’t stop, and the struggles won’t quit, and the victory won’t cease to fly at the head of the mast, where the red banner of His blood is flying.
Then “Follow Me” means a life of service out in the crowd. Those three and a half years of service we are to follow Him in, in unhurried, unheralded, quiet, warm-hearted, steady going out to serve just where men are, and as men need; our feet travelling the lanes and alleys where men are, even as His did. It means a life of service amongst the needy crowd.
It means more yet, a fourth thing, a Transfiguration Mount. The Transfiguration for Him meant this, the revealing of the hidden glory hidden beneath the robe of His humanity. For us it means this, a glory-life even here, a being transformed and renewed from within by His power. We all with open face, that is with uncovered face, beholding as in a glass His glory, shall be changed from glory to glory,—notice, by the Spirit of the Lord. It means a Transfiguration Mount for us; glory be to His Name for that.
And then it means something you won’t like so well as that, but it is just as sure to come. If you will listen quietly,—it means a Gethsemane grove of gnarly, old, olive trees beyond the Creek of the Cedars. Gethsemane meant and means simply this, a lone, soul agony, unutterable, because of the sin of others. He suffered this in a sense peculiar to Himself. And we, as we follow Him, will find suffering of the same sort, that will mean keenest pain to us.
And “Follow Me” means more yet; it means a Calvary in your life and in mine. I mean now in the secondary sense. His Calvary was a solitary affair, which stood all by itself. There can be no second; there can be no duplicate in the meaning of that Calvary for all the world and for us. But, while that remains true, if we will follow Him there will be a Calvary in your life and mine. That is to say, there will be a suffering for others which will be redemptive in a sense, a secondary sense, which will be vicarious, which will be substitutionary, and which will be very real. It will mean everything to you, yet it is distinctly secondary.
In a sense, all by itself, approached by none other, His Calvary meant redemption, vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice. And all of us need to come and get the virtue of that marvellous sacrifice through His blood. Now then, having said that distinctly, just take in clearly, that “Follow Me” means for you,—thousands of God’s children know this in their own experience,— it means for you a Calvary suffering that shall be as real to you in suffering as His was to Him; and that will have, in a distinctly secondary sense, a redemptive, a substitutionary, a vicarious value of virtue for, and of influence upon other men. Only he follows the Lord Jesus who follows Him here.