Fan or follower?
By Ysrael De la Cruz
We are very familiar with what it means to be a fan of something. We cheer for our favorite team, movie stars, tv shows and so forth. People get fans to like their posts on fb. Most fans cheer for the player or the team when things go as they expect. When the team is winning. Lebron James becomes the most hated player when he left the Cleveland Cavalier in 2010 for the Miami heat. People in Cleveland burned his jersey and got rid of t-shirts that contained his picture or number. Then in 2014 when Lebron decided to go back to Cleveland, he was loved again. This is how fans are, they are fan if things go as they like.
During Jesus’ ministry, he too had lots of fans. Large crowds would follow Jesus. They enjoyed being around Jesus and seeing all the miracles he was performing. Jesus became very famous, and everyone wanted to meet him and be around him. When you examine the ministry of Jesus, you will soon discover the mixed audience he had, how there were some in the crowds who were there just for entertainment purpose. Some went after Jesus for the benefits (what he could do for them), there were some who truly believed in him as the Messiah.
There were some who were fans of Jesus but there were others who became true followers.
According to the gospel of John, right after Jesus fed more than five thousand men by the Sea of Galilee; he went to the Capernaum and the people followed him there. Jesus confronted the fans in the audience. Mind you, these people traveled to go see Jesus.
John 6:25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him. “Rabbi, when did you come here?”
Jesus confronted them right on the spot. (v.26) Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. ESV
These people followed Jesus for the food he provided, they were part of those who were fed with the fish and bread. Jesus knew their hearts; he saw through their politeness or kindness. You are seeking me not because you saw miracles but because you ate your fill. You are after me because of what I can provide for you. There are people who follow Jesus for the blessing, the accolades, the attitude is always, what’s in it for me? These are fans of Jesus, not true followers.
Jesus challenged them to go after what is eternal and not the temporal. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” NIV
Do not work for things that satisfy you momentarily, but eventually vanish, work for things that last forever.
What must we do to do the work of God? (v.28)
Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (ESV)
It is obvious that these people did not believe in Jesus; they were attracted to his works, the food, the things he can provide to meet their expectation. This is the reason they went after Jesus. Jesus said that God requires of you is to believe in the one He sent. They had not even recognized Jesus as the one sent from God because all they cared about was the things, he could do for them.
(v.30-31)So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Jesus explained to them that it was God who gave their ancestors bread, but even that bread spoiled, but God has sent them true bread that never spoils. This is where Jesus identified himself as the true bread that came down from heaven. Jesus challenged them to eat of the true bread for obtaining eternal life. Jesus challenged them to truly believe in him.
At the end of their conversation these people left and no longer followed Jesus because they were offended by his teaching.
We must realize that Jesus is not after fans, but he expects true followers.
Fans follow Jesus only when things go well or as expected. They are the one who seems to be committed but only when things go well. Fair-weather fans.
Fans like Jesus for the benefit. When Jesus does what they want, when he provides for them.
Fans are easily offended by Jesus’ teaching. (They stopped following when his teaching became hard).
True followers of Jesus stay with him no matter the struggles and are not offended by his message. True followers long to get to know Jesus; they long to be transformed by his teaching. True followers have believed that Jesus is the One sent from God; the only one by whom we can be saved and obtain eternal life.
Jesus did not care about the size of the crowd, he cared about their level of commitment they would show to him. This chapter should challenge us to evaluate the level of commitment we have for Jesus. are you behaving more like fans of Jesus or are we truly his followers, his disciples?
Jesus doesn’t want fans; he wants followers. Those who would still follow him even when it gets tough. Those who would not throw in the towel when the fight gets difficult.
Jesus called his followers to examine the type of relationship he wants with his disciples and the type of commitment he expects of his people.
Matthew 16:24-25 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Jesus is calling you to be a true follower, not a fan.