“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and FIRE. His winnowing FAN in in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:11-12)
Fire or a fan. Get hot or cold.He’s not interested in anything in between. Just as all computer code breaks down to a 0 or a 1, it’s either one or the other. We haven’t yet learned that obedience in Scripture is digital. (Only learning is analog.)
With God, doing what He says is either yes or no, never something in between. The guts and the glory of the gospel are tied directly to this kind of expected surrender. When Jesus speaks to people, He talks to them as if He expectsthem to leave everything and follow Him.
Poor Mrs. Zacchaeus. She looks out the window one day to see Jesus and the twelve disciples walking up the path toward her house, with her husband running just a few steps ahead. “Guess who’s coming to lunch!” he says excitedly. She’s excited too, but for a totally different reason.
As he comes into the kitchen, she gives him that look that every husband knows and hisses at him, “Zach! Are you crazy?! What do you mean inviting Jesus and the disciples for lunch without even bothering to tell me?” Then she shifts gears. “Oh, come in Jesus! It’s so nice to see you.” Then to Zach under her breath, “Why didn’t you tell me He was coming?”
“I didn’t invite Him,” says Zacchaeus. “He just invited Himself” (see Luke 19:5).
Who is this Jesus? He walks up to people who are just minding their own business and, without so much as an introduction, He calls them out of it forever. His sermon is not even a “three-pointer” – just two words: “Follow Me.” And how does He carry out the delicate task of follow-up and care for the new convert? Take a guess. “Follow Me.”
Who is this Jesus? He talks as if He owns the whole universe! He speaks as if what you do with what He says will be the most important thing you ever do in life. Who is this Jesus? He talks like He’s God or something.
You want extreme?
He told the rich young ruler to sell all he had and give it to the poor, that he would have treasure in heaven and to follow Him. The rich young ruler didn’t and dropped out of history (see Luke 18:18-23).
He told the woman at the well that if she drank the water He offered her she would never thirst again. She did, went back to her village and brought half of those who knew her back to Him (see John 4:1-42).
He told a deeply religious man, Nicodemus, that unless he was born again he would never see the kingdom of God. Nick braved the censure of his peers and discovered a new life (see John 3:1-8, 50).
He told those who followed Him that unless they ate His flesh and drank His blood they could have no part in Him. It is not recorded whether or not they thought He meant it only metaphorically or whether they thought He actually called them to be cannibals, but it is recorded that from that time, many went back and walked with Him no more (see John 6:48-66).
He told Peter, His disciple, exactly how He was going to die and then said, “Follow Me.” Listen to His words: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
He said there are only two roads, one that leads to heaven and the other that leads to hell, and that only a few would take the straight and narrow road, while many would head for the broad way (See Matthew 7:13).
He said that you could tell a tree by its fruit and that no normal tree puts out a mixture of good and bad fruit, no matter what theologians or psychiatrists may say (see Luke 6:43,44).
He told stories about sheep and lost sons to sinners who loved Him (see Luke 15) and asked religious leaders unanswered questions that made them angry (see Matthew 12:12-14).
He said a poor lady’s last coin was worth more than a whole wad a rich man dropped into the collection plate (see Luke 21:1-4), and that a weeping hooker would be remembered for wasting her life’s savings to pour perfume over His feet (see Mark 14:3-9).
He broke up every funeral He ever attended by raising the corpse from the dead. He raised a dead boy, a little girl, then a man who had been dead three whole days (see Luke 7:12-15; 8:41-56, John 11:11-44). Then He did it all over again at His own funeral, even though the Romans had posted a guard and the religious leaders had sealed the grave with a boulder.
You want extreme?
No one in history ever was born like Jesus, lived like Jesus, talked like Jesus and loved like Jesus. Not even His enemies could find fault with Him. He defies comparison, because there is nobody else you can put in His class. Period. He split history in half. He not only claimed to be God, but showed His kingdom every way you can ask to anyone who really wanted to see it. When you come to Jesus, He doesn’t give you options or alternatives, just a core decision: “Follow Me.”
If you do, you are a disciple.
If you don’t, you drop off the map forever.
And that, my friend, is extreme.