But one thing to really appreciate about the gym is the hours. They run class all week long and throughout the day. So, he could go at 5:45am or 6:00pm. It’s great because it fits his schedule and lets him join the “Tribe” and workout on his own time, whenever that happens to work out. And…if you miss workouts for a week? No worries. They’ll still welcome you back with open barbells. It’s nice for some things to be able to commit at your own pace.
But…what about Christianity? What kind of commitment is involved? Is it a 9 to 5 thing? Weekends only thing? An hour every Sunday? Every so many Sundays? Less? Or more? As we continue our series on Disciple let’s take the time this morning to ask ourselves: How often does a disciple need to be a disciple?
Today we want to dig into Scripture and see just how much time Jesus invested in his work and by extension how much time he expects his disciples to invest in the work of discipleship. Before we begin, a prayer: Lord, strengthen us by the truth; your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see. Open our ears to hear what you want us to hear and open our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. Jesus Is Always On
The lesson for today is from Mark 1:29. It takes place right after last week’s lesson where Jesus drove the demon out of the sermon heckler. Look at verse 29 it says this: As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. (v.29) A bit of context for those who have been following this sermon series: The group of disciples currently consists of Peter, Andrew, James and John – the same group of four that were called to follow Jesus while fishing and they all saw Jesus drive out the demon. Then, together they set out to the home of Simon and Andrew as soon as they were done with events at the synagogue.
Before we move on, think about what Jesus had been through on that particular day so far: He’d been teaching at the synagogue all day long – maybe 9 to 5? He’d been answering questions. He’d been speaking. He’d been teaching. And then, at the end of it all, he had to do battle with the demon-possessed man.
I don’t know if you’ve ever taught a class or done some public speaking but…it’s exhausting. I can pretty much guarantee you there’s a nap in my future this afternoon. (Pastor Kiecker’s the same if you’re curious!) So…I can’t imagine an all-day affair. Your feet get tired from moving about. Your voice gets tired from talking. Your brain gets tired from thinking. (Granted – mine might get tired a bit easier than yours, but…you get the point).
By all counts Jesus should have been tired. It was time for a break. Time for a stop for wings with the coworkers. To kick back and relax a little, and just unplug from it all. But that’s not where the disciples take him.
They went…to the home of Simon and Andrew. (v29) And it’s not to have a nice meal or play a game of cards … Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever and they immediately told Jesus about her. (v.30)
Hmmm…that’s probably not so subtle a hint? If I was Simon, I could understand why I would want Jesus to come to my house! I had literally just seen him drive a demon out of a demon-possessed man. He did it without a long process of chanting. He didn’t use oils. He didn’t fight the demon. He simply spoke and the impure spirit was gone. And if I’m Simon, I’m thinking:
That’s amazing! This Jesus is awesome. And I’m following him. I don’t think I have to worry about being possessed or injured or sick or…Sick..? That’s right. My mother-in-law is sick. And Jesu is powerful. You don’t suppose… “Hey Jesus…you wouldn’t want to have supper at my house?”
Jesus is asked to do some work as soon as normal work hours are over. It’s evening. It’s getting dark. For me, it’s time to sit on the couch, put your feet on the Ottoman and see what’s on Netflix. If anything pressing is waiting for me when I get home from work my reaction is usually, “Can’t it wait for tomorrow?” I wouldn’t blame Jesus if he turned to Peter and said, “Not tonight. I’m done for the day, I’ll be available tomorrow…”
But he doesn’t.
Jesus went to her. He took her hand. He helped her up. And the fever left her. (v.31) And this wasn’t just some motivational encouragement that compels her to stop loafing about and get on her feet. Look at the difference! She was in bed, unable to move, unable to join the festivities and all Jesus does is help her up and suddenly – she’s feeling good enough that she began to wait on them.
Nothing I’ve ever taken for a cold works that quickly. Or that well. Even when it does kick in I’m still pretty out of it and need some rest. Here’s the point – and it’s evident here & throughout Scripture – Jesus is always on! He is always ready to help his people. He is always ready to help his disciples. He is always ready to help – especially you!
In fact, the Bible says this, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Mt. 7:7) This is Jesus’ promise to Peter, Andrew, James, and John. They simply had to tap him on the shoulder. They simply had to speak with him. They simply had to ask. And for you and I, it’s the same, but just a different means of getting the message to him. We speak to God through prayer. We pour out our hearts to him. We give him our requests and questions – and he listens! Jesus is always on!
Think about that for a company policy. It’s not often that you find one like that. Yes, there are some grocery stores that are open 24/7, but I’ve noticed that they tend to be severely under employed in the overnight hours. They might only have 1 or 2 people in the whole store; meaning that if I needed some help finding the Doritos at 4:15am… they might not be able to. (Not that that would happen, Pastor Kiecker and I both know where the Doritos are kept.)
Or think about a customer service phone line. Have you ever tried to get customer support for say your health insurance outside of business hours? You don’t get it. You just get a voicemail saying that they aren’t open right now.
And if you’ve got a doctor; even the friendliest, most caring doctor has times of unavailability. He needs some sleep. He doesn’t make appointments at 1:20a on a Saturday morning. And you might not be able to get a hold of him on vacation, while he’s sleeping, or when he’s in the hospital being sick himself! I’ve even heard stories of pastors getting 102 degree fevers when they are supposed to be preaching a sermon on Jesus driving out fevers! Pastors aren’t Jesus. Even they aren’t able to be always on.
But not Jesus. He is always on. He is always, always, always on. He is on at 9am. He is on at 5pm. He is on in the middle of the day. He is on in the middle of the night. He is on for Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day and even when all of Wake County is closed for ice and snow! Jesus is always on, ready to hear you, ready to comfort you, ready to serve you with the message of his Gospel.
II. How On Are We?
Now here’s where it gets interesting. Because Simon isn’t the only one who has the idea to ask Jesus to help. In fact, I picture Jesus and the disciples relaxing now. Simon’s mother-in-law is up. She’s about. Not that the group put her to work, she’s just that kind of person who can’t sit still when there’s company. She’s making everyone coffee and throwing together a few appetizers for the whole group to kick back and enjoy after-hours relaxation.
Then, suddenly…a knock. It’s one of the ladies from the synagogue earlier. She saw what Jesus did for the man with the demon and well – her son? He isn’t well. He’s sick. Would Jesus be willing to heal him?
Jesus gets up. He smiles. He nods. He heals her son.
It isn’t long after that interaction and Jesus is just about getting back to his snack when... another knock. It’s an older gentlemen. He was watching at the synagogue too. And well – he didn’t want to say this then, it’s embarrassing but… look at his hand. It’s shriveled and very painful. If maybe Jesus was around…
And Jesus gets up. He smiles. He nods. He heals the man’s hand.
And this time, before Simon can close the door… a shout! “Is Jesus in there? My name is Sally and I heard about what Jesus did today with the demon possessed man. Would you be willing to help my father? He has the same problem.” “And I’m Joshua. I heard Jesus speak today and saw his incredible power. Jesus, do you think your power can help heal this catch in my left knee?” “And I’m Betty, and this is my husband. He severely injured his hand while fishing the other day. Can you heal him so he can work again?”
And people keep coming. And the line keeps moving. And the whole town gathered at the door and… Jesus healed many. (v.33-34)
Now – It doesn’t tell us how the disciples reacted to this. It doesn’t tell us how Simon, the guy whose house this was reacted to the whole town gathering at his door, but I’m not sure he loved it. To be fair – yes – it was great to have Jesus come back to his home and help his mom-in-law. But…he was Jesus’ friend. He was his coworker. He was a part of this movement. What Jesus did for him, that wasn’t work; that was helping a friend. But these people? Shouldn’t they know better? What right do they claim to ask? Shouldn’t they leave them alone? Shouldn’t they let us take a break?
I think this could very easily have been Simon’s reaction, because people love the idea that Jesus is always on for them. But when it comes to being on for others, well…
The other day someone came into Pastor’s office and they needed some help. They needed to talk. They needed to vent. They needed some help with a food card too. It took up some time. And what was kind of interesting is that shortly after the conversation was over someone else who had seen that person come in entered his office. “Wow. That was a long time. Don’t they know that you’re busy? You’ve got a lot to do. How rude.... Anyways…do you mind if I sit down? I’ve got some things on my mind I could use help with…”
That’s irony. But we all do it. People demand that God always be available for them; and yet struggle to be even a bit available for others! This is wrong. In fact, listen to these passages:
Galatians 5:13: Serve one another.
John 13:34: Love one another.
1 Peter 3:15: Always be prepared to give an answer about the hope that you have.
Notice there is no time limit. There are no hours of operation. It doesn’t say, “Serve one another from 9 to 5.” It doesn’t say, “love one another for an hour every Sunday.” It doesn’t say, “Be prepared once a year.” Nope. Jesus’ disciples are to be always on, always ready to serve, always ready to love, and always ready to share the Gospel message. When we’re not, that’s selfish.
That… might not have felt so good to hear or think about. You might be feeling very convicted. As I had to sit down and prepare to present this message to you, I shared the sentiment that Pastor Kiecker himself wrote: I’m not sure that I’ve felt more convicted as a disciple than getting ready to share this message.
After all, I get tired. I get cranky. And more quickly than I’d care to admit, I get to a point where I don’t want to do much for anyone but me.
It’s humbling to think of how quickly we do give up on being on for others. Thankfully there’s something encouraging here. Because, in spite of our selfishness in spending our time and our energy, Jesus is selfless. He is always on, and always ready to serve.
And in fact, he’s already invested an incredible amount of time on you.
The Bible tells us: Long before the world began, God spent eternities thinking of you. In eternity, He saw your sin and developed a plan to save you. He spent thousands of years prophesying those plans for you. He lived 33 years on earth for you. He spent one awful night of suffering for you. He spent an excruciating 3 hours on the cross for you. He spent 3 days in the grave for you. He broke out of the tomb in an instant for you. He worked through his word time after time in your life to share this message to you – for you.
Jesus has eternities invested in you. Here’s the truth: His eternal investment in us empowers us to invest in others. Simply put: If God cares that much about you, to invest that much time in you, can’t you invest a few minutes in others?
III. What Now?
Knowing all Jesus has done for us, here are a few things to learn from the text:
First of all, Take Action. And not next month. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Take action today. Think of someone you know. Someone who’s hurting, someone who’s depressed, someone who’s sick, someone who needs to hear about Jesus, or just someone you know. And take action.
Just like Jesus. Did you notice all the action verbs? Jesus went. Jesus took. Jesus helped. Jesus healed. Jesus didn’t waste any time acting when he saw those in need. DO the same. Act. Today. Serve. Love and share Jesus.
Next, Rest. Because the point of this section is not, don’t rest. We need rest, or we can’t keep serving. We’re not Jesus, we’re not God. We need time to recharge. But it’s not rest for rest’s sake, it’s rest with a purpose. The purpose of being energized, excited and ready to serve others as a disciple.
Case in point: the very next verse tells us that early the next morning Jesus got up early and went out mountain side to pray. He got away from people. He got away from busy. He took a moment and connected with God. The point? Jesus needed rest – and he’s the Son of God.
You need rest too. But make your rest intentional. Don’t just grab a pillow. Don’t grab a pillow and your phone and play Diamond Crush for three hours. Rest physically and rest spiritually. That’s very important. Because when we rest spiritually, we get spiritually reenergized. We see God’s love for us. We read about the time he’s spent on us. We are filled with his love to go and share his love.
And it’s kind of ironic, because spiritual reset takes time! But if you are too busy for spiritual rest, you’ll actually get spiritually tired of being a disciple. If you take the time for spiritual rest, you’ll find the spiritual energy, motivation and reason to serve others as a disciple.
Finally, Prioritize Your Service. Because early that next morning as Jesus is getting his spiritual rest and praying, Simon and the other disciples come running up the hill, “Everyone is looking for you Jesus!”(v.37) There’s plenty more people who need you to heal their physical ailments. And based on everything we just read to this point, I’d expect Jesus to say, “Okay!”
But he doesn’t. Instead? “Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” (v.38)
You understand, this isn’t Jesus being rude. This is Jesus having his priorities straight. Helping others’ physical needs is one thing, but healing their spiritual needs with the message of the Gospel? That’s the purpose.
Keep your priorities straight. Don’t help your kids with their homework in place of helping them grow in God’s Word. Don’t serve your wife with a romantic date night, in place of helping her grow in God’s love. Don’t serve the homeless with some physical food, while neglecting to share the spiritual food of Jesus.
Because brothers & sisters, discipleship is a 24/7 calling. It’s not just busy work. It’s the work of our Lord who has invested so much in us. Soak in what your God has done for you and what he continues to do for you that he may empower us to invest the good he’s given us in others. Amen.