“But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.” (Acts 24:14 NKJV).
Until around 300 A.D. when Christianity became institutionalized and reduced to a mere religion rather than a loving, intimate and dynamic relationship with God, the Disciples of Christ were often referred to as “the followers of the Way.”
And they were passionately hated and severely persecuted under the religious system created and run by the carnal and greedy priesthood of those days (Acts 9:1-2).
Why did they call the Disciples of Christ “the followers of the Way?”
What was “the Way” they committed themselves to follow?
It is wisdom for us to know how and why following “the Way” distinguished the early disciples from the religious people of their days!
While the Lord Jesus was on earth He undoubtedly pulled a large crowd. Multitudes always thronged and followed Him everywhere to receive miracles, healings, deliverances, and to hear His radical teachings, and perhaps to eat free miraculous meals.
However, among the multitudes there were a few people who willingly chose to leave all things behind to follow and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus. They acknowledged Jesus as their Lord or Master, and were devoted to His ways, words, teachings, values, principles, lifestyle and mission.
After the glorious Ascension of Jesus Christ, His few disciples, who had been with Him, followed Him everywhere He went, and learnt from Him, began to worship God in spirit and truth, to preach the gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ, to make disciples for Christ of all the nations, and to demonstrate the preeminence of Christ by healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead.
When the early Disciples of Christ began to teach and walk according to the truths which they have seen and learnt from the Lord Jesus, they stood out among the rest of the religious people in their nations. They were easily recognized as those who had been with Jesus Christ (Acts 4:13). And they were mockingly referred to as “the followers of the Way.”
Paul testified before the governor, saying, “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.” (Acts 24:14 NKJV).
Sadly, it is becoming increasingly difficult today to recognize, identify, or distinguish Christians from the rest of religious people in the world.
Like the early Disciples of Christ, when you truly commit yourself to learning, following, living or walking according to the truths taught and demonstrated by the Lord Jesus Christ, you also will easily stand out among the religious people of your days!
“The Way” the early Disciples of Christ devoted themselves to follow transcends a mere discipline, principle, doctrine or teaching; it is actually a Living and Divine Person, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus introduced Himself as the Way, saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV).
Therefore, being a follower of “the Way” is simply learning from, following after, or conforming to the example of the Lord Jesus Christ.
A follower of “the Way” is a believer who acknowledges Jesus Christ not just as his Saviour but also as his Lord, Master or King.
A follower of “the Way” is a believer who has surrendered himself unreservedly under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He is a believer who has willingly yielded his neck under the yoke of Christ to learn from Him and walk in His footsteps, and who has set Jesus Christ before him as his ultimate model, example or standard in all things.
The early disciples or followers of “the Way” were hated and persecuted by the Jewish leaders of their days because they chose to follow Jesus Christ and to abide in His teaching rather than following them or abiding in Mosaic Law.
When the followers of “the Way” were threatened and commanded to stop preaching, teaching and demonstrating the gospel truths, they responded, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29 NKJV).
“But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.” (Acts 4:19 NKJV).
The singular goal of a true follower of “the Way” is to increasingly, progressively, and fully become like “the Way” (Jesus Christ) in every aspect of his life – in his thoughts, will, emotions, perception, values, mindsets, lifestyle, conduct or character (Luke 6:40, Rom. 8:29).
A true follower of “the Way” is always seeking to grow in the grace and revelation knowledge of “the Way” by spending quality time regularly in God’s Word to behold the glory of the Lord and observe His footsteps or examples.
A true follower of “the Way” is the believer who has renounced his sinful and selfish ways, so that he can follow “the Way.”
Beloved, while clinging or holding fast to your selfish desires and ways, you cannot embrace and follow “the Way.” You will always have to choose between following the ways of the world and “the Way.” You will always have to choose between obeying Christ and gratifying the lusts of the flesh.
The Lord Jesus clearly states, “If any man wills to follow me, let him renounce self and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 MNT).
It takes you renouncing self for you to embrace, follow, and conform to “the Way”, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is why many believers today are not active followers of “the Way.”
Friend, it is only as you embrace and follow “the Way” that you will know the Truth and then experience and manifest the Life of Christ (John 14:6).
Many believers today are languishing in bondage simply because they would not give up their ways to seek “the Way” so that they may find the truth that will set them free to enjoy to the fullest the life God intended for them.
You cannot encounter the truth that will set you free and begin to lead an overcoming, victorious, prosperous or fulfilled life without resolving in your mind to forsake all other ways to seek for, embrace and hold fast to “the Way.”
Why not choose today to be an active follower of “the Way”?
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, I pledge today to become an ardent follower of the Way. My Dear Holy Spirit, teach and help me to know the Way increasingly so that I may become increasingly like the Way and effectively show others the Way, in Jesus’ name. Amen.