Summary: Identifying three callings of Jesus on a person's life.
Don’t Miss Your Calling
Matthew 4:12 – 23
There is so much rich material in today’s scripture. From the image of light in the darkness to the fulfillment of prophecy to the mention of healing and miracles, there are several things that if we advertised, we could draw a good crowd. Really, people come out of the woodwork when we talk about prophecy—just announce and publicize that you’re going to do a Bible study on Revelation and see how many people show up. The same thing happens with miracles and healings, too. Benny Hinn still fills arenas with thousands of people who are seeking a miracle, and who can ever forget the stadiums filled by folks wanting Oral Roberts to lay hands on them? But, announce you’re preaching a sermon on “calling,” which is the essence of today’s passage, and most folks tune out or turn off, because “calling” is interpreted in such a limited way—usually reserved for those who have articulated a call to vocational ministry. Today’s passage deals with the subject of calling, and I actually see three distinct calls that all of us must heed if we would be faithful to Christ. I see the call to faith, the call to discipleship, and the call to ministry. Let’s look at each of these briefly this morning, so that we’ll be sure not to miss our calling.
For Matthew, this is the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. He’s been baptized by John and led into the wilderness to be tempted for forty days by Satan. He gets the news that John the Baptist has been arrested, so he heads back to civilization to begin his ministry. It’s there we find the first calling on people’s lives—the call to faith.
The call to faith is the call to change our mind, and it is the call that all of us, at some point, must answer. Literally, Jesus’ first word in ministry in verse 17 is “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” The translation I read says, “Turn from your sin and turn to God.” That is the translator’s interpretation of the meaning of repent. The word means “to change your mind,” and Jesus begins ministry with the call for everyone who hears his voice to change their mind. It is a call to turn from sin. It is a call to turn from unbelief to belief. It is a call to turn from death to life.
It’s not vogue to talk about sin. After all, we’re all sinners, and we’re not supposed to judge, and if we talk about sin, we might get too close to judging and we’re good Methodists, so we don’t want to do that. Of course, the alternative is also a possibility. We don’t really think we’re sinners. Culture and pop psychology have taught us that we’re good people. It’s the “I’m okay, you’re okay” mentality that makes us say we don’t need to repent…we don’t need faith. Or, we think we’re not as bad a sinner as someone else.
When we think of sin we think of the Big 10. You know? Murder, stealing, lying, adultery, covetousness, those types of things. Or, we think rape, or child abuse, or some other crime that’s easy to acknowledge is wrong. Sin, though, as the Bible defines it is anything that misses the mark. That’s what the word means—missing the mark. That image should never diminish the seriousness of sin because the reality is there was a mark and we missed it. We miss the mark in so many areas of our everyday life. Surely, we’re not murdering, or stealing, or lying (at least I hope we’re not), but what about the small things that also reflect on our character? I think about what our Catholic brothers and sisters have called the seven deadly sins—greed, gluttony, pride, anger, lust, sloth, and envy. The belief is that at the heart of all sin lies on of these. I can think of the times in my life I’ve been greedy, and let’s not even get into gluttony knowing how much I love to eat. I could do my own bullet list for each of those and I come to realize that even still I’m one who needs to repent as a matter of faith.
Repentance opens us to grace that God desires to pour into our lives. Repentance is our acknowledgement that something is wrong, that something needs to change. Who can argue with the brokenness we see in our world today that something needs to change? The call that everyone must answer is the call of Jesus to turn from our selfish, sinful ways, to consider the claims that Christ makes, and determine whether we will believe, or continue to go down a path that is ultimately destructive to us and those around us. It’s a call everyone must answer. Even refusing to answer is an answer.