Summary: The first of Jesus great commands to "come, follow me".
THE GREAT COMMANDS OF JESUS
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Pastor Brian Matherlee
I was driving the other night and saw a car with those stick on characters that depict their family. Usually it has the stick outline of a dad, mom, a couple of kids and maybe a dog. The particular car I saw the other night was different. It began with a phrase followed with a mom and two kids. The phrase was, “this position available.”
Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 9:37, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” It’s just like that sign on the back of that car I saw…this position available.
Matthew 4:19, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”
We begin today a three week series on the great commands of Jesus. To ignore the command of Jesus to follow is to reject Christianity.
I see 4 aspects of this command:
1. Initiated by an invitation
a. Throughout the Bible we see that God is always the one reaching out.
i. He reached out to Abraham
ii. He reached out to Moses
iii. He reached out to Nicodemus
iv. He reached out to Zaccheus
v. He reached out to 12 men ranging from deeply spiritual to downright pagan.
b. It can be refused
i. Pharaoh refused to acknowledge God
ii. Israel refused to trust God and go into the Promised Land and wandered 40 years.
iii. The rich young ruler refused
iv. The Jewish leaders refused Jesus
c. Once accepted, notice that it is an imperative statement.
d. Once a soldier signs up with the armed forces, life changes doesn’t it. The orders they receive are not suggestions.
2. It is a radically different lifestyle!
a. The command to follow presupposes more than sterile classroom learning. It assumes a lifestyle of exposure and application to the teachings of the teacher.
i. When did Christianity become primarily knowledge instead of obedience? Jesus knew that this was a precursor to disaster. He told his disciples in the “Sermon on the Mount”, “Anyone who hears the words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
b. It means we do without some things. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross.”
i. Denying oneself is a difficult choice.
ii. Taking up the cross means that we have a continuing attitude of self sacrifice and unreserved commitment to Christ.
iii. When did following Jesus become so comfortable? Jesus told people who came to him declaring their willingness to follow him, “the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”-Matthew 8:20
iv. Someone has said, “Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Too many Christians have settled into comfort and blindly bought into the notion that this is what God had in mind! It isn’t.
3. It is empowered by Christ
a. I will make you, he says.
b. Jesus invests in us. He teaches us by example how to engage people, how to reach out, how to serve.
c. Much like God promised Moses to help him speak and teach him what to say, Jesus promises to help us through the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 tells us, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses.” John 14:26, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
4. It involves us but doesn’t rest upon us
a. Jesus said, “I will make you fishers”.
b. The Gaither Vocal Band has a song on their latest CD called “I Catch ‘Em, God Cleans ‘Em”. It says, “I catch ‘em, God cleans ‘em, I bait my hook with the love of the kingdom, I’ve been called to be a fisher of men.”
c. So many never even cast their line. They never try.
d. The story goes that Mark Twain loved to go fishing, but he hated to catch fish. The problem was he went fishing to relax, and catching fish ruined his relaxation, since he had to take the fish off the hook and do something with it. When he wanted to relax by doing nothing, people thought he was lazy, but if he went fishing he could relax all he wanted. People would see him sitting by the river bank and they would say, “Look, he’s fishing, don’t bother him.” So Mark Twain had the perfect solution: he would take a fishing pole, line, and a bobber, but he wouldn’t put a hook on the end. He would cast the bobber in the water and lay back on the bank. That way he could relax all he wanted and he would be bothered neither by man nor fish. Mark Twain is like a lot of Christians I know. They have their pole in the water, but there is no hook on the end. They are not fishing; they are relaxing.