Summary: A sermon examining the possibility of restoration in the lives of those followers of Christ who have seemingly hit rock bottom.
A Disciple's Journey To The Bottom And Back
What a great story of redemption we find in the testimony of professional baseball player Josh Hamilton. His career started off with great promise but things quickly spiraled out of control. His issues with drugs and alcohol caused him to be suspended from the league. He was out of baseball for almost three years. But things seemed to turn around in 2007. Since then he has won 3 silver slugger awards. He is a 5x all star. In 2008 he was the AL RBI leader and in 2010 he was the American League MVP and Batting champion. But his turnaround in baseball pales in comparison to the transformation that has taken place since he surrendered his life to Christ. Although, like most of us Josh Hamilton has had some setbacks since turning to Christ. In recent years he suffered a relapse and briefly returned to those things he had been delivered from. Fortunately he realized his error and returned to the Lord. He states that the reason he relapsed is because his priorities were not in order. He said in an interview "I got away from the one thing that kept me on the straight and narrow and that was my relationship with the Lord. That should always come first."
It is encouraging to see stories of those who have hit rock bottom and then experienced a great comeback. Perhaps you find yourself in need of a spiritual comeback today. You were once devoted to the Lord, but somewhere along the way you began to drift away. You look at your life and wonder "how did I fall so far...so fast??" If that is the case I want to encourage you today. Do you realize that the closest followers of Christ during His earthy ministry found themselves at "rock bottom" so to speak?
If you examine the actions of the Disciples you will see that they all struggled during the events surrounding the crucifixion of their Master. I would like to consider their story for a little while and examine "The Disciple's Journey To The Bottom And Back". If you find yourself at the bottom...if your relationship with Christ isn't where it should be, their story will give you hope. We will see that restoration is possible. I suppose the best place to start this journey would be at the very beginning. Let's go back to the point where these men began to follow Jesus. Notice:
I. The Disciple's Devotion (Matthew 4:18-22)
A disciple is defined as a follower of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 10:2 we have record of the original 12 disciples, 11 of whom became Apostles of the Lord. Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus,Thaddaeus, Simon and Judas Iscariot - Each of these men had a life changing encounter with the Savior. They were so impacted by Him that they "left all to follow Him". Andrew, Peter, James & John were all fishermen. And it seems that they were successful. But when they met Jesus they gladly left all to follow Him. (Matthew 4:18-22)
In Matthew 9:9 we read where Jesus called a tax collector named Matthew to follow Him. Matthew gladly arose and followed the Savior. These men left their vocations, they left their locations and they left their relations in order to follow Jesus. Though they sacrificed much they did so willingly. They believed and trusted that Jesus was the promised Messiah. During their time with Jesus they witnessed some amazing things. They heard the powerful teachings of Jesus.
They saw the blind receive their sight, the deaf made to hear, lepers cleansed, demons cast out, lame people begin to walk and they even saw the dead raised to life. Peter, James and John saw Jesus transfigured on a mountain. There they also saw Moses & Elijah and heard to voice of the Father. The Lord's Disciples walked and talked with Him, they laughed and cried with Him. They experienced a truly amazing life.
But these men also faced great difficulty. They often traveled long distances with only the bare necessities. They endured times of trouble. They faced oppression and persecution from the enemies of Christ. Though they faced timed of great difficulty, these disciples remained devoted to the Savior for over 3 years. But the time came when things greatly intensified for these men.
- As we continue this journey let's look to the events recorded in John 13&14, There we see:
II. The Disciple's Difficulty (John 13&14)
In John 13 Jesus revealed to the Disciples that the time had come for Him to die. Just imagine how difficult it must have been for thee men to hear this news. Jesus knew that their hearts were filled with sorrow.