Summary: A sermon for an Armed Forces Sunday celebration, looking at ministry to those in uniform.

-Our Gospel lesson for today might seem a bit strange to preach for an Armed Forces Sunday

-Just look at the words in verse 12

-Jesus tells His 1st century disciples and His 21st century disciples to “love one another as He has loved us”

-Contrast that with what we are celebrating, at least in part.

-We are celebrating people whose job it is to kill others and the chaplains that serve them

-Now it seems a little bizarre to preach on loving others

-However, I believe that the text is wholly appropriate for this celebration

-My goal by the end of this message is that you will all see how appropriate this text is, gain a greater appreciation for our nation’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines and the chaplains that serve them and give praise to the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for His great love for us {PAUSE}

-I read a book recently that talked about how young Jewish children were raised during the 1st century A. D.

-All children, both boys and girls, began studying the Torah at the local synagogue when they were four or five years old and continued until they were around ten

-During this period of training most would have memorized most or all of the Torah

-The majority of students would go spend their time at home helping their parents, learning a trade and getting ready to be married

-Only the best and brightest students were allowed to go beyond the study of the Torah

-These more advanced students began to study, memorize and interpret the Writings and the Prophets

-Once that portion of schooling was complete, a student would seek out a rabbi who taught an interpretation of the scriptures that they believed to be the purest

-The student would ask the rabbi if they might be talmidim or disciples

-The rabbi would give them a trial period where this prospective disciple would follow them around, observe them and do what they did

-The rabbi was constantly watching and listening to see if this disciple had what it takes

-If so, the rabbi would accept them

-If not, they could find another rabbi or they would have to go home and learn a trade {PAUSE}

-If you would like to turn in your bibles to Matthew chapter 4 verse 18

-I’ve always been puzzled by this section of scripture

-It didn’t make any sense until I had a little more information that illuminated the text

-Right after Jesus is tested by Satan in the wilderness and begins His preaching ministry, Jesus is walking along the sea of Galilee

-He sees Peter and Andrew casting nets into the lake

-And a little later, Jesus sees James and John helping their father Zebedee preparing their nets

-That’s significant

-What does it mean?

-It means they weren’t good enough or smart enough

-It means that no rabbi would accept them

-It means they hadn’t met the high standards of one of the religious elite

-You see, it always troubled me why these fishermen would just drop their nets and follow this guy they just met

-It also troubled me that James and John just left their father high and dry with the family business

-Now, hopefully you see that these guys jumped at the chance to follow a rabbi

-Finally, someone thought they were good enough

-Finally, a rabbi thought they had what it takes

-Remember picking teams for kickball in grade school

-Remember the one kid that nobody wanted

-Remember the kid that one team had to make the other team take by giving them some runs off the bat

-That’s what these fishermen were like but no longer

-Jesus thought they were something

-Zebedee would have been proud to have his sons following this up and coming new rabbi {PAUSE}

-You probably remember that famous recruiting poster with the very serious looking Uncle Sam pointing at you

-What does it say?

-“I want YOU”

-That is what Jesus is saying to His disciples in our text for today

-“You did not choose me but I chose you”

-You know a lot of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines probably felt a lot like Jesus’ disciples before they came in the military

-Maybe they weren’t the last ones chosen for the kickball team but they were looking for something bigger than themselves to be a part of

-There certainly are a lot of very bright people in the military but for everyone who already has a degree when they enter the military there is a least a handful where the military is an opportunity to get out of a bad situation

-It is an opportunity to take a step up in life

-An opportunity for a stable career

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