Summary: Sermon for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany The Call of the Disciples
3rd Sunday after Epiphany
I would like to share with you part of a sermon preached by Charles Spurgeon, one of England’s most powerful preaches during the 1850’s where his church grew from 300 members to well over 5000. I have many what I call "heroes" in preaching whose sermons I enjoy reading, Spurgeon, the late Pastor Valbracht, from St John’s Lutheran in Des Moines, his successor, Pastor Jerry Schmalenberger, Pastor James Bjorge plus others. The part of Spurgeon’s sermon I would like to share is written in old English, so it is unfamiliar to our ears, but please try to listen carefully for what says is as true for our day, as it is in his.
He says: "God said to the wisdom of the world,’Worldly wisdom, I will try thee; I give thee one great problem to solve. Thou sayest that thou art might, that thine intellect is vast and comprehensive, that thine eye is keen and thou can find all secrets, now behold, wisdom, find me out, find the way to worship me acceptable. Here is the universe; stars make its canopy, fields and flowers adorn it and the floods roll o’er its surface, my name is written therein; the invisible thing of God my be clearly seen in the things which are made. Philosophy, I give thee this problem--find me out. Wisdom and philosophy, I will give thee 4000 years and I will not interfere as you try to find the acceptable way to worship me. I will give thee men enough, data enough, minds enough, orators enough and if thou cannot find the acceptable way to worship me, then will I teach thee that the wisdom of God is wiser than men, yea, that the foolishness of God is wiser that wisdom and philosophy. I will teach thee that a child-like faith shall crumble to dust all the colossal systems that the hands of men through wisdom, reason and philosophy have built.
Time past and wisdom, reason and philosophy cannot find the acceptable way to worship God, so God his warriors. Christ puts his trumpet to his mouth and up come the warriors clad in fishermen’s garb with the brogue of the Lake of Galilee, poor humble fishermen. here are the warriors, O wisdom O philosophy, O reason that will exalt a gospel in the world, the acceptable way to worship me, which you O wisdom, O philosophy, O reason will laugh at, but through them and their successors this gospel will be exalted above the hills and shall be glorious even unto heaven.’"
Do you see Spurgeon’s point? All that the worlds holds sacred, wisdom, philosophy, reason cannot find the acceptable way to worship and know God, but God called fishermen, common, uneducated, simple men who would bring the colossal system of the world tumbling down with a child-like faith.
There is something so powerful about this God and His call through Jesus for these men to follow, something so mysterious, that they would leave all to follow Him, something that only a child-like faith can accept and understand. "The power of Jesus’’ call was so great that these men gave up their livelihoods and as it says in John 1:42 Simon was even ready for Jesus to change his name from Simon to Peter as the text says: 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, "So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas" (which means Peter).(John 1:42, RSV).
These men saw a power in Jesus unlike any power or authority which had been seen before upon the face of the earth. Jesus came with a simple message as it says in Mark 1:15 "and saying, "THE TIME IS FULFILLED, AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND; REPENT, AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL." (Mark 1:15, RSV). In this statement Jesus was saying that something new was breaking into this world. God’s new reign, His new kingdom was coming in the form of Jesus, His Son and it would eventually be brought to all people by common, simple, foolish fishermen who did not have the wisdom of the ages, the education of the philosophers, or the reason of the great orators, but they had the child-like faith to accept Jesus at His word and follow Him.
In this season of Epiphany was we see Jesus revealed in all of his glory, today we see the power of his Word as it calls Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow Him. This power, this authority was passed on to them as they followed Him for those 3 short years. Jesus passed on to them the wisdom of God for all the world to see. The authority of Christ which was passed on through the disciples to many generations it did not diminish.