“Come, Follow Me”


William W. Parmley
The admonition to “Come, follow me” and the question “What would Jesus do?” provide powerful guidelines for living.

We are disciples of Jesus Christ. In the words of Nephi, “We believe in Christ, … we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ” (2 Ne. 25:24, 26). To believers everywhere, the three most powerful behavioral words He spoke were “Come, follow me” (Luke 18:22; see also Matt. 16:24; Mark 1:17; Luke 9:23). When asked by a scribe which is the most important commandment, Jesus replied:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

“And the second is … Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30–31).

Using the template of these two commandments, let us discuss how we can best follow Him.

The Savior’s example of the reciprocal love between Him and His Father was always evident. Frequent, long, and heartfelt prayers by the Savior have set a powerful example for us to follow. The Father’s love for His Son was ever apparent, particularly at the time of His baptism by John: “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).

The unity between the two was apparent when the Savior said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). Understanding that His will and the Father’s might even be transiently different as in Gethsemane (see Matt. 26:39) reminds us that our prayers may not always be answered in our preconceived way. Nevertheless, prayer is a powerful action principle. The Savior said that if one has faith and doubts not, “all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (see Matt. 21:21–22). Our love for the Savior must be accompanied by action: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Let us next consider the second of the great commandments, “Love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:39), or its higher level counterpart taught to the Apostles, “That ye love one another; as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Although having the next-door neighbors over for dinner is a wonderful way to express love, the Savior chose a much more difficult example when the lawyer asked Him the question, “And who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29).

There follows the familiar story of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was robbed and beaten and left by the roadside half dead. The Levite and the priest looked on him and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was despised by the Jews, had compassion and cared for him. The Samaritan did not ask about ethnicity before showing mercy. Jesus concluded this powerful story with the admonition to “go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:37).

In every big city, we have those who are beaten down and left by the roadside—those who are homeless, destitute, hungry, and sick. Some say that by giving them money we only support their habit of drug or alcohol addiction, thus enabling them to continue a lifestyle they have chosen. It is so easy to judge these individuals and, like Job’s friends, speculate about all the mistakes they have made in their lives that brought this great misery upon them (see Job 22; Mosiah 4:17).

Before we pass by like the Levite and the priest, however, let us consider the admonition of the Savior to “Come, follow me.” Remember that the Savior was homeless, had only the clothes on His back, and was often hungry. What would He do? There is no question what He would do. He would show mercy and minister unto them.

There are many ways to help the homeless, including the contribution of time, goods, and money to humanitarian groups, soup kitchens, or agencies that deal with these problems. Nevertheless, it seems to me that we must also show mercy unto them. The established principles of welfare are an appropriate guide. Remember that the poor will always be with us (see Mark 14:7).

The Savior emphasized this principle again when He discussed the Judgment Day and the separation of the sheep from the goats:

“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

“When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

“Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:37–40).

Peter emphasized the importance of this kind of charity when he said, “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8).

Mormon expressed similar sentiments with this admonition:

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—

“But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him” (Moro. 7:46–47).

Jesus both taught and exemplified many personal qualities which we should consider as we try to follow Him. These qualities include love, meekness, humility, compassion, thirsting after righteousness, being prayerful, merciful, and pure in heart. We should never judge others but should do unto our neighbor as we would have them do unto us. He taught that we should be the salt of the earth and a light unto the world. He said that what a man thinketh in his heart is as important as his outward actions. We were told to forgive everyone, including our debtors, and to love our enemies. Not only are we to be peacemakers, but we are also to rejoice in persecution. He advised us to give our alms and to fast and pray in secret. He taught us to turn the other cheek and to go the extra mile. He especially cautioned us to lay up treasures in heaven rather than treasures on earth. (See Matt. 5–7.)

As we contemplate the full meaning of the phrase “Come, follow me,” it is apparent that we may have much to learn and much to do before we can fully respond to that injunction. It is of interest, however, that during the first 30 years of His life in Nazareth, Jesus apparently drew little attention to Himself even though He was living a sinless life (see Matt. 13:54–56; Mark 6:2–3). That should encourage us to do better in our own quiet and humble way without drawing attention to ourselves. The admonition to “Come, follow me” and the question “What would Jesus do?” provide powerful guidelines for living. Paying more attention to these guidelines will help all of us become more Christlike in our thoughts and actions.

Of the Savior, who is our exemplar, I bear personal witness that He lives. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.