Summary: A lot of Christians give preference to someone or something in their lives over what should be the most important thing in their life, Jesus. So in effect, they don’t make Jesus their life but rather have just added Jesus to their lives. But when you deci

Devoted to Jesus

Matthew 4:18-20, 9:9

Isobel Kuhn was an author and missionary to China, and was married to John, a man just as strong willed and stubborn as she was. The two had many conflicts throughout the years of their marriage. One had to do with their cook who prepared their meals. John became quite devoted to her. Unfortunately, Isobel couldn’t stand her. Tensions grew, and Isobel sulked and stewed and finally exploded, leading to a blazing argument. Stuffing her hat on her head, Isobel stalked from the house, through town, and onto the plain boiling with rage. She said to herself, “I am not going to live with a man who gives a lazy servant preference over his wife.”

That’s the way it is with a lot of Christians, they give preference to someone or something in their lives over what should be the most important thing in their life, Jesus. So in effect, they don’t make Jesus their life but rather have just added Jesus to their lives. Last week, we looked at the word lifestyle in our mission statement. We learned a lot of people may profess their faith in Jesus Christ but they don’t live their entire lives for Jesus Christ. They never really change their lifestyle, that is, who they are, how they live and what they do. In fact, George Barna has found in his research that the unchurched see no difference between the lives we lead as Christians and their own life. Every one is devoted to something! It may be your job, your career, your goals, your spouse, your family, or even your favorite hobby or pastime. But when you decided to follow Jesus, you were to devote yourself to Him above everything else! The call to faith in Jesus is a call to be totally devoted in following Him! Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self.” Luke 9:23-25 He went on to say, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Matthew 8:23 In other words, you have to make a choice in this life and when you choose to believe in God, you choose Him first in everything. You choose a be “devoted to Jesus” above everything and everyone else.

In our Scripture today, Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, and saw two fishermen brothers, Peter and Andrew, casting a net into the lake. He said to them: "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." Then in Luke 9:9 Jesus saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth and said to him: "Follow me," and Matthew got up and followed him. This was more than an invitation to come hand out with Jesus or even believe in Jesus, it was a call to take on a new way of life, to be completely devoted to Jesus.

To understand that calling and Jesus’ invitation, we need to understand the context. In Jesus’ day, childhood education started at age five as young boys went to the synagogue school to learn Hebrew and memorize the Torah. By the time of his bar mitzvah at age 13, a typical Jewish young man had memorized all of the Old Testament. Those who showed great promise were encouraged to continue their education and begin studying the authoritative interpretation of the Torah known as “The Yoke of Torah.” After that next multi-year phase, the young men who continued to show great promise were further encouraged to extend their training by spending time (typically ages 17-20) with a rabbi in a multi-year experience. There they would hone their ability to interpret God’s Word as it relates to all the practical issues of daily life.

The student would choose a rabbi and ask to become his student. Because of the great interpretive diversity amongst the rabbis, the decision to ask to be a rabbi’s disciple and receive religious training from him was not made lightly. Some rabbis interpreted the Scriptures literally. Others focused on the spirit of the Torah, while still other rabbis emphasized different areas of emphasis, e.g. ritual purity laws. These diverse approaches often led to very different interpretations and application of Scripture pertaining to issues of daily life. Since a rabbi’s interpretation of God’s Word was forever binding on his disciples, great care had to be taken by the disciple in choosing a rabbi and his teaching to make sure it was something he could identify with and live out for the rest of his life.

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