Summary: What is involved in choosing to follow Christ
Disciples at the Crossroad – Ma. 5:1-12
Are most people happy? Dennis Wholey, author of Are You Happy? reports that according to expert opinion, perhaps only 20 percent of Americans are happy.
One morning a deacon was asked to go to the airport and meet the preacher who was coming to his church to conduct a revival. He went but was not sure as to what the preacher looked like. He carefully examined the passengers as they exited the plane. He was anxious to pick up the man he was to entertain but whom he had never met.
Selecting a likely fellow, he asked, “Pardon me, sir, but are you a minister?”
“No, sir!” came the reply. “My indigestion makes me look like this.”
What would you say is your degree of happiness right now?
I want to talk about being happy today. In doing so I want to turn to what have been commonly called the Beatitudes. Now to be honest the word blessed even though it is translated by the word happy in the Living new Testament, is not complete in that translation. The word means more than mere happiness. It really carries with it the idea of being totally fulfilled because I have a relationship with God. But it seems to me we can more easily identify with happiness so I want to know if you are happy?
Last week we began a series entitled Crossroads. We are looking at those times in life, those Crossroads, when we have important decisions to make. We began by looking at Jesus at the Crossroads. As Jesus began his earthly ministry he had to make a choice. He was called to choose to walk the path of suffering and death on a cross to fulfill God’s plan for him and for us or to take a different way, an easier way, a way of self rather than God fulfillment. We know He chose God’s way and because of that we have a hope we would not have had.
Let me take just a minute here for a commercial for our Easter service. Again this year we have some great things planned. It will be a real celebration. It is always exciting. But the bottom line is that those who attend will be asked to make a choice for Christ. Our theme for this Easter is life at the crossroad. Where would you be today if Jesus had not been raised from the dead? I hope you are encouraging everyone you know to accompany you on that morning.
Today we look at Disciples at the Crossroad. As we read there, this 5th chapter of Matthew begins Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him… We pay close attention to three words to begin with; Now, Mountainside, and Sat. Anytime a Bible student, and remember, if we are not students of the word we are already conceding defeat to Satan, reads words at the beginning of a sentence such as therefore, and, or now, they should look back to what preceded it. What just took place? Here we look back at chapter 4. Following Jesus’ choice at the crossroad he emerges from the wilderness and begins his earthly ministry. Both through his preaching repentance and healings, many are following him. It has already become apparent to him that people are thinking if they follow Jesus they will get something in return.
According to Mark’s gospel, some have even asked him to perform special signs to prove he is the Messiah. At any rate they think they have a good thing here and they don’t want to miss out. In addition to this, Jesus has called his circle of 12 who he plans to train and commission to begin his church.
From this setting emerges a crossroad. Jesus’ disciples are from the same background as this crowd. They have some of the same hopes and dreams. But they have to make a choice, will they follow the path the crowd chooses, the life of physical fulfillment, the life of greater ease, or will they accept the way of Christ?
That by the way is our crossroad as well today. That is the question of this hour too. Will we choose to follow Christ or the crowd? Beware! The Bible says there is a way that seems right to man, but it’s end leads to destruction. The crowd will choose the path to destruction nearly every time.
Seeing this opportunity for teaching NOW, Jesus takes the 12 for their first lesson on discipleship. He removes them from the crowd so he can speak only to them. This text then is a lesson to the disciple of Christ. Would you become a follower of Christ, these are traits of a follower. These next words are the rules of the road to become a citizen of His Kingdom. So we see that Jesus by separating his disciples from the crowd makes a distinction between the crowd and the follower.