Summary: Like Peter, from beginning to end, Jesus Christ is calling us to follow him, and to discover the beauty that is our relationship with him.
About 10 years ago my son & my daughter, Bill & Erika, & I were out doing some caving in Virginia. Caving is when you go out & exploring a cave for entertainment & is sometimes referred to as "spelunking".
We had reached the cave on a very slow day & the owner offered to give us a guided tour that was a little off the beaten trail from the normal vacationer’s tour, but he warned us that it would take us about 4 times as long & we had to be prepared to get a little dirty. But it would be worth it because we would see a wonder of God’s creation: a beautiful treasure. & he wasn’t kidding. We walked & meandered for a couple of hours, following his lead past a prehistoric bear skeleton, into darkened recesses, down rock slides & thru crevices where we had to crawl on our knees & wiggle on our bellies, which, for me, was quite an adventure. In the meantime, however, we saw gorgeous stalactites & stalagmites & some really rock outcroppings & caverns.
Finally, exhausted, wet & covered w/ mud, he pointed to a hole & said, “We’re almost done. The exit is right thru there.” I looked at the hole & then at my waistline & then back at the hole. “You gotta be kidding!” I said, “There must be another way out of here.”
“Well, we can always go back the way we came,” he said. “But trust me. You’ve followed me this far; you can make it.”
& he was right. It was snug & it scraped me up a little, but I made it.
Most of you, if not all of you, are here because at some point in your life someone took you, carried you or dragged you to God’s house. In unspoken words they were saying to you the say think the tour guide said to me. Follow me. &, you know, our experiences were somewhat similar. There were times that it was a joy & the way was easy, so we followed willingly. Other times, however, it was more challenging. We didn’t know if it was going to fit, whether it was our waistline or schedule, & we needed to be cajoled just a wee bit. But the people leading us did what they did because they wanted to share w/ us a special treasure that had really been a blessing to them. In my case, it was the beauty of God’s creation. In your case, they wanted you to come to know the Jesus Christ they had come to know; they wanted you grow up under the tutelage of the Lamb of God who had blessed their lives; they wanted you to experience the magnificence of the saving power which comes thru our Lord & Savior.
This morning I want you to hear Jesus’ words to his disciples once again as he calls them to follow him. In particular, I’d like for us to journey w/ Peter as he discovers what it means to follow Jesus.
I’ve chosen Peter as my focus because I’ve always thought that were was great significance in the fact that the first and last words that Jesus spoken to him were “Follow me.” Initially, they were spoken to him when he was still known as Simon. No one knew him as Peter “the Rock” yet because that was a name that would be bestowed on him until later when Jesus would ask all the disciples: “Who do you say I am?” & Simon responded, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” But that time was years away…just before Jesus started to speak to them about his impending death.
For now, he was Simon, Son of John, who grew up in Capernaum, on the north side of the Sea of Galilee, a great location for someone who family was in the fishing business. In fact, in every practical sense, it was assumed that would be the career path of Simon & his brother Andrew. Until one day, as they stood in the sea casting their nets, hoping for a catch that would not only feed their family but would be large enough so they could sell some for the extra income they needed to pay taxes & fix their equipment, an itinerant preacher named Jesus crossed their paths & changed their lives forever. “Follow me,” he said, & they laid aside their nets & began a three year odyssey which led them to become “fishers of men”.
It was a grand time during which everything went perfect. Never were there any disagreements among the disciples & they all sought to place the ministry ahead of everything, even their own personal wants & needs. They fully understood Jesus’ purpose & never questioned what he sought to accomplish. The love of the Lord was so all-encompassing that the hearts of everyone who heard his words were filled w/ his spirit, coming to love & respect him as the Son of God.