Our new sermon series is all about the word “disciple.” The word is interesting. It’s simple meaning is “follower.” Look up in the dictionary and it refers to “one who adheres to the teachings of another.” So, it isn’t necessarily Christian, yet, it seems to be strictly associated with Jesus.
That’s probably because of the 12 disciples. Have you heard of them? The 12 disciples are a group of 12 men who followed Jesus during his three-year ministry. Remember their names? I do because of the well-known song:
Peter, Andrew, James, and John, fishermen of Capernaum,
Thomas, and St. Matthew too, Philip and Bartholomew,
James and Less and Jude the Brave,
Simon the Zealot and Judas the Knave,
Twelve Disciples here in all, following the Master’s call.
These 12 disciples made discipling famous.
But a disciple is more than just those 12.
A disciple is any follower of Jesus.
What’s it take to be Jesus’ disciple in 2018? That’s the goal of our sermon series. We will learn about being a disciple, as we look at how Jesus disciples his disciples. Before we begin, let’s say 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. The Story
The first lesson that we’re going to learn about being a disciple comes from a time before the disciples were disciples. Because before they could follow, they needed Jesus to tell them to follow. They needed a calling. And one of the very first instances come from Mark 1.
Picture Mark 1 opening up with a beautiful morning sunrise sneaking over the horizon of the Galilean Sea. Standing on the beach is a guy named John. He’s holding a cup of his favorite He-Brew blend coffee close to his nose and breathes it in.
“Caffeine and fish guts! Beautiful isn’t it?”
John looks to see his friend Peter smirking in his direction as he holds a bundle of thickly roped nets in his arms. “You don’t mind if I borrow them this morning.”
“Go ahead. Just be sure to give us a few of your catch as payment.” John’s brother James comments as he throws an oar into their boat. “Dad’s expecting that we have all our nets out on the sea this morning.” Peter nodded, took a swig of the rum bottle setting at the edge of the dock and went off.
Meanwhile James makes his way around to his brother, “Did you hear about the commotion downtown yesterday?”
“It’s that Jesus guy again. Apparently, he was outside the Capernaum synagogue telling a bunch of Pharisees to Repent! I wish I could have been there. It would have been nice to knock those religious zealots off their high pulpits. Apparently, he told them all that they too were sinners and they too were in need of a Savior.”
John shook his head as he threw another pile of nets into the boat. “Repent, huh? That sounds a bit like John the Baptist. Only John was at least interesting. He was homeless. He lived in the desert. He ate poached crickets for breakfast. This Jesus guy? He’s just a commoner. He’s a carpenter. I just don’t think it’d be worth following him.”
“Well,” James continues, “He’s got loads of people following him already. In fact,” he leans in real close, “I think I know the difference. John the Baptist proclaimed sin and the need for a Savior. This Jesus? He proclaims sin…and that He is the Savior.”
John pauses. “That is interesting. Interesting and foolish. How can a carpenter save us from sin?”
James shrugs. “I don’t know. But…there’s something about him…”
John returns to loading up the boat with buckets and nets. Only pausing to talk report to his dad about where they planned on fishing that morning and how much they expected to haul in. Just as they were about to push off…a commotion. Up the road, about 100 feet away, John could see a small group following a rather plain looking man. The man was teaching and talking as he went and the others were listening.
“Hey!” James whistles. “It’s that Jesus guy I was talking about.”
John leans closer, steadying the boat and straining to listen: “Repent! The Kingdom of heaven is near. Repent! For God’s kingdom is here. Repent to be saved from destruction. Repent and trust God’s Messiah – to be saved from sin.” (Mk 1.)
John watches as Jesus talks.
He certainly looks convincing.
He certainly seems to believe what he’s saying.
But…again…how could it be true?
How could some carpenter be a Savior from sin?
As John watches the group approach, the dynamic changes.
Jesus stops talking and turns towards the docks.
He turns towards some fishermen in the boats.
He turns…toward Peter.
“Come. Follow me.” (v.19)
John let out a quiet guffaw. He couldn’t be serious…Peter? He’s a bit gruff for spiritual work…He smelled of worm guts, four letter words and a bit of stale wine.
Peter wasn’t that foolish.
Peter didn’t like religious folk.
Peter would never follow a…
John’s thoughts were cut off. Because in less than an instant, Peter jumped over the boat and into the water. He waded as quickly as he could to the shore near Jesus. His brother Andrew followed – he docked the boat and approached on land – but he approached Jesus too.
They all shook hands.
And they followed Jesus.
They followed Jesus right over to the dock where John was.
And John’s thoughts started swirling. Me? He better not stop for me…Does he know who I am? I don’t have any religious credentials. I’m not a Pharisee; I’m a fisherman. And a sinner. I’ve got filthy language. I’ve been known to get drunk. And I’ve struggled with lusting after that servant girl on dock 9.
This Jesus is on a spiritual crusade.
This Jesus seems righteous.
This Jesus seems holy.
How could I ever fit in?
But…Jesus…as if reading his thoughts…smiled.
And stretched out his hand.
“Come. Follow me.”
John looked at Jesus.
He looked at James.
He looked at his net…and threw it to the ground.
He got out of the boat and followed Jesus.
He had a calling.
II. Notes on Jesus’ Calling
And there you have it. The very first calling of the very first disciples to follow Jesus. Peter, Andrew, James and John. But what I think interesting about this account is how there are quite a few things about Jesus’ calling of these disciples that are the same as when he calls you and me to be disciples.
No, we don’t all own boats.
And none of us smell like fish – at least I think.
But there are three important ways that our calling as disciple is the same.
1. The Call is Urgent
Note what it says that Jesus’ main message was very time sensitive. He said, “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (v.15)
Notice what he did not say – “The time is next week.”
Or, “The time is in a few years.”
Or even, “The time is after you have graduated college, found a wife, and started a career.”
Jesus’ call to the people was urgent.
The call of the disciple is urgent.
And Jesus’ call to you to be his disciple is urgent.
This is so interesting. Because 21st century humans are usually very urgent about things. We are always in a hurry – and this week with the snow – was tough for a lot of us – because we are always in a hurry.
We are in a hurry to get to work.
In a hurry to make money.
In a hurry to get the kids to karate.
In a hurry to make supper.
In a hurry to get the kids to bed so we can sit down and catch the latest episode of Fuller House on Netflix!
We are always in a hurry – except when it comes to Jesus.
I’ve been a pastor for 6 ½ years now, but I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone say:
“Sorry Pastor. No time to chat. We’ve got to hurry home and study the Bible.”
Or: “Pastor --- could you get that baptism scheduled soon! Let’s hurry it up.”
Or: “Pastor – can we start Bible basics at 6am tomorrow morning? I can’t wait to grow in faith.”
It just doesn’t happen.
Honestly, I don’t have the urgency I should when it comes to Jesus.
But we should.
Because Jesus is the only way to heaven.
The kingdom of heaven is near.
Meaning death is near.
Meaning our judgment from God is near.
Meaning our judgment from God that determines where we spend eternity is near.
I bet there are some people in Hawaii get this. Did you hear about it? There was an accidental nuclear warhead warning. For 7 minutes people thought that the island was about to explode, and their lives ended. They called loved ones. They hid where they could. They prayed prayers.
But it wasn’t real.
They didn’t die.
But eventually they will.
And you will.
This is urgent.
2. The Call is Hard
Jesus call was this: “Repent!” (v.15) Repent means to do a 180-degree turn.
It’s like Simon Says. Ever played that? Simon says what you are to do and you do it. Simon says, “Raise your hand,” so you raise your hand. Simon says, “blink your eyes,” so you blink your eyes. Simon says, “Repent,” so you turn around.
Jesus says repent and you turn around.
Not physically, but spiritually.
You turn from sin to Savior.
And this isn’t as easy as Simon Says.
Think about what Jesus is calling you to turn from.
Turn from selfishness. Stop worrying about yourself, stop the innate desire to make you # 1.
Turn from toxic friendships – particularly ones that selfishly won’t want you to leave
Turn from overdrinking – so challenging there’s chemical dependence struggling against you.
And that’s not all to turn from.
Turn from heterosexual lust.
Turn from homosexual lust.
Turn from hatred.
Turn from racism.
Turn from four letter words.
Turn from gossip.
Turn from greed.
Turn from pride.
Jesus is calling you, “Turn from following your sinful desires and turn toward following me.”
But oh so blessed.
Because what does following any random sexual desire lead to? Brokenness in family, guilt in your heart, and the cycle of trying to fill your desire with the next desire.
And what does overdrinking lead to? A headache, bad decisions, hurt friendships – even alcoholism.
And what does pride lead to? Missing out on key help, losing friends, and a loneliness when no one wants to be around you.
Following sinful desires leads to nothing good.
But following Jesus?
That leads to complete forgiveness.
That leads to peace with God.
That leads to eternal life.
That leads to joy everlasting.
Because when you follow Jesus, you’ll see that he followed the desires of his heart.
And the desires of his heart – were you.
It led him to the cross.
It led him to suffer on that cross.
It led him to die on that cross.
It led him to emerge from the grave victoriously – to save you from sin.
This is the good news that comes with following Jesus.
He is your Savior.
3. The Call is for You
This is important. Because it’s easy to think – these 12 disciples must have had something special about them.
They must have been a higher level of qualified than I could ever be.
They must have been perfectly suited for being disciples.
But look at this. Did you see verse 20? When Jesus had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them…
Did you notice that? “Without delay?”
There wasn’t a test.
Not even a Facebook quiz.
Jesus just calls…
Because Jesus calls sinners.
Are you a sinner? Jesus is calling you.
“Come. Follow me.”
But I’m pretty guilty.
But I struggle with homosexuality.
But I keep lying.
But I got a DUI once.
But I said some horrible things just last week.
But I’ve been divorced…twice.
Jesus still calls.
He calls you without delay.
Come. Follow me.
III. What Now?
1. Follow the Call
You have one. Whether you’ve never followed Jesus before or you’ve followed him for a long time. Follow him!
Because some of you might be thinking, “I’ve been following Jesus for a long time. I’ve already answered the call. I’ve already been following Jesus. What could God possibly be calling me to do?”
Easy. He’s calling you to follow Him more closely.
In fact, I saw a bumper sticker the other day. It was in fine print and you had to drive really close to see what it said. It said, “Are you following Jesus as close as you are following this car?”
But think about it.
Are you following Jesus so closely that you know the fine print of his desires?
Can you see his Word in every situation?
Follow him more closely. Heed the call.
2. Make the Call your Priority
Because I always think it’s intriguing that there’s a net involved in that fishing scene. Because nets always catch things. That’s why fishermen used them. Nets caught fish.
But this net almost serves to catch John that day and prevent him from ever following Jesus.
Think about it. That net represented a lot.
The work he had to do.
The money he had to make.
The family he had to take care of.
The mouths he had to feed.
The father he had to please.
But John looks at that net – and threw it down.
Those can wait.
Jesus is the priority.
What are your nets? What are the things that prevent you from following Jesus?
They are different in all of our lives.
A net can be family.
A net can be work.
A net can be money.
Drop that net.
There’s nothing it offers you that can’t find ultimate fulfillment in Jesus.
Drop you net…and follow him.