Jesus and His disciples were walking from here to there, talking as they went. One of them told Jesus, "I will follow you wherever You go." The word translated as "follow" is indicates one who follows closely behind one who leads. The word comes from akolouthos he "prefix a, here expressing 'union, likeness,' and keleuthos, 'a way;' hence, 'one going in the same way'" (Vines)
This may seem like entirely too much detail, but it is essential that we who say we follow Jesus understand what that means. This word does not mean the "follower" is equal to the leader, nor is the follower giving the directions. This word indicates a clear leader and a close, but definitely behind, follower. The leader (Jesus) decides the direction, route, mode of travel, and speed of travel. He decides the conditions under which travel will occur. He decides when there will be a break and when the destination has been reached. He decides everything.
This is what the follower decides: Nothing.
The follower's responsibility is to do what the leader does, go where the leader goes. As a result, it is critical that the follower know the leader, understand His ways, and willingly relinquish his rights to that of the leader.
When someone does us harm, as a follower, we relinquish our right for revenge to our Lord. Instead, we respond as Jesus would respond. Turn the other cheek. Pray for your enemies. Bless those who curse you. We do what Jesus would do, because we do what He has already done.
This question of "wherever" is vital. It is easy to follow Jesus when the way is easy and the accommodations are comfortable. FollowIng "wherever" means we will go anywhere. Nowhere off limits. No boundaries. No restrictions. Is there danger to personal safety? If Jesus says go, we go. Is there discomfort? If our Lord directs, we go, regardless of the risk. If the way confronts our personal prejudice, we allow Him to change us and go anyway.
There is a difference between on onlooker and a follower. The onlooker watches from the sidelines, perhaps with great enthusiasm and encouragement. The onlooker does not, however, follow. They may consider themselves "engaged", but it is impossible to follow from the sidelines. Being a follower is much more than we in this country think. Being a follower costs everything, risks everything, and is the greatest adventure we will ever have. Which are we? The answer to that question is vital, for therein lies our eternal destiny.
Onlooker or follower? Which are you?