Rabbits in a Cage
This is Bun Bun. He is our adopted pet rabbit.
Bun Bun lives to chew on leaves, tease the dogs and make jelly beans.
This is a local groundhog. He makes a living burrowing in the ground and generally being a nuisance around the house.
5 minutes after this picture was taken, he may or may not have died of lead poisoning.
When we stop and consider the lives of these two animals, we all might want to believe that Bun Bun has the better life.
In fact, many of us have a rabbit’s existence!
We are perfectly happy to live out our life in a box with no real threat or danger in our life.
We are all perfectly fine with being rabbits in cages!
After watching Bun Bun last week, I came to the conclusion that I have no desire to be like him.
I don’t know about you but our forefathers fought for freedom from being caged up.
I would rather take my chances and be like the ground hog.
Sure you have the chance you will be run over by a car, attacked by a predator or shot by someone but at least you are free!
Being free means that you take chances
Being free means there is risk involved!
WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE?
If God is in it, you can’t fail.
If you learn a valuable lesson, you can’t fail!
But the bottom line is that if you sit around and never try, you will have a very tame and normal life.
Normal is boring!
32 "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
Freedom does not mean a life of never taking chances
Freedom in Christ will never be a life of not getting your hands dirty.
Too many Christians have these false beliefs that once you are saved you are done.
You can go through this life without a care in the world and without any responsibility
As we look at today’s text, I want to show you the difference between freedom and life in a cage.
Matthew 4:18 (NKJV)
18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.
Jesus began His ministry not by preaching long messages or teaching doctrine but His ministry seemed to have truly begun with walk.
His was a ministry that began with a stroll along the Sea of Galilee where He probably saw several fishermen in various stages of their work day.
We really can’t be sure why Jesus’ attention to Simon Peter and Andrew.
These two men were hard at work.
If you’ve never casted a net, there is a skill set necessary in order to do it right.
It isn’t as easy as you think either.
I wonder if it was the way that they worked together that got Jesus’ attention.
It was really obvious even to the untrained eye that these two guys were good at what they did.
They were probably out every day working their craft and becoming proficient at it.
What is really amazing to me about this story is the fact that verse 17 states that Jesus began His earthly ministry and in verse 18 we find Him walking along the Sea of Galilee and is drawn to fishermen.
He didn’t go to the Temple
He didn’t go and have a conversation with the Pharisees either.
What was the big fascination with those two brothers?
Now don’t get me wrong; Jesus knew about these guys long before He came to Galilee.
The Pharisees would have been jumping at the chance to work with the Messiah as His “advisors.”
Jesus was looking for an empty vessel that could be filled with what He had to offer.
He was looking for someone possibly like you.
I. It’s easy to get comfortable.
Simon Peter and Andrew were used to being fishermen and no doubt they were comfortable with the way they made a living.
Their entire existence was probably spent next to the Sea of Galilee.
They never left it because they didn’t have a reason to.
Every day it was fish, fish, fish.
It was repetitious and probably boring at times.
Christianity should never, ever be boring friends!
Do you realize that serving the Lord is the greatest adventure that you will ever go on?
Yet there are so many of you sitting here today that never leave your Sea of Galilee and experience the freedom that comes from serving Christ.
And honestly friends why shouldn’t we remain comfortable in our salvation?
Most of us choose a comfortable existence because it makes sense to us.
Why would anyone want to leave the comfort of their rabbit cage existence and travel half way around the world to feed the starving kids in Africa?
It makes no sense to the world to leave our jobs and serve the Lord.
Why would anyone want to give up a good paying job with insurance benefits and risk it all for the sake of the Gospel?
The same reason that a groundhog chooses to be free!
The risks are everywhere and the chance of failure is always lurking in the back of your mind.
But the rewards are heavenly.
Do you think I would have given up a job making 50K a year because I thought being a pastor was going to make me rich?
I don’t do this because I want to make a lot of money doing it.
I do this because the Lord called and I trust Him to know what’s best for me.
And I love what I do more than anything I have ever done.
I will take the risks and answer the call.
The question is “will you?”
Will you respond to the Lord’s call on your life and come out of your cage?
Or will you remain comfortable like Bun Bun?
We would all like the comfort of our comfort zone.
What will it take to break you out of yours?
Matthew 4:19 (NKJV)
19 Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
There is a whole lot more to Jesus’ request to Peter and Andrew than for them to become a cult following or a “groupie.”
(Although being a groupie for Jesus would be the best gig in town)
Follow me in reality means “come after me.”
If I were to tell you to come after me, I would hope that you would come with the intent of catching me.
I honestly believe that Jesus called Simon Peter and Andrew to come after Him as if their very lives depended on it.
COME AFTER ME
Come after me with everything you’ve got!
Give it nothing but maximum effort!
Jesus was essentially telling them that if they were to follow Him, while the level of the difficulty of work may get harder, it would be more rewarding in the long run.
While they may not have understood it, they were being called to a higher degree of fishing
“Follow me and I will make you fishers not of fish but of men.”
Drop what you’re doing and I will lead you to places you never dreamed you would go.
You won’t have to catch smelly, stinky fish anymore
You will have a new quarry and it is the souls of men that you will be called to throw a net over!
Jesus was giving Simon Peter and Andrew an option to a comfortable life or a life of risk.
Fishing on the Sea of Galilee was risky enough but they made a comfortable and predictable living at it.
To stop what they were doing and follow Jesus was going to require a decision on their part.
Which brings us to
II. We are all called to action.
None of us have to answer the call to action by the Lord.
We can all remain comfortable and happy in our little rabbit cages if we want to.
We can have the American Dream of a normal life!
We can stay inside our houses and we can stay inside the church and never do anything that would cause us any pain or discomfort.
We can go through our life of walking with the Lord only to the places that we want to walk.
Never taking any chances, never getting our hands dirty and never getting our feet wet.
And what a boring life that would be!!!
Consider what Jesus told all of us to do with our life
Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV)
19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
If you want to lay up treasures on earth, fine go ahead and stay in the rabbit cage and let people bring you a carrot.
But if you want the real deal and receive treasures in Heaven, get out of the cage and follow Christ.
I think what we all fail to realize is that we were all made for more!
You were made for more than a dry and thirsty experience on this rock called earth.
We were called to action and I think for a lot of you, you’re afraid to step out of the cage because you’ve allowed yourself to believe that you can’t do anything.
If the people of the 1st Century church could see what we’ve become, I believe that they would line all of us up against the front of the church and boot us in our backsides.
They were called against all odds to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth and they were serious about it.
They risked starvation and persecution and death but they answered the call.
You are all called. Will you answer the call?
The 1st century church turned the world upside down.
Will you be a risk taker? Will you take chances?
I wouldn’t wear out that story of allowing your “lifestyle” to be your witness and service to the Lord because “no one ever sees it but you.”
Matthew 4:20 (NKJV)
20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
And in a great act of faith, both of these brothers dropped their nets and followed Jesus.
The Bible doesn’t say one word about them standing their debating on what to do.
They literally dropped their tools and followed Jesus without having any idea where they were going or what they were going to be doing.
And I guarantee that on that day, they had no idea that you and I would be hearing about it today.
I can guarantee one thing.
They were thinking about the cost of the decision they were making.
I have no way of knowing how much a commercial fisherman made in the 1st century.
All I know for certain is that those men had families to take care of.
A life of following this carpenter’s son around wasn’t going to pay a great salary.
But boy the fringe benefits were outstanding.
Quitting a job in ancient Israel wasn’t the thing to do either. You would lose all your customers and many jobs were at a premium that there was a waiting list to get that job.
Ask Matthew if he could have got his job back if things didn’t work out.
Ask John and James how warm and open their father would have been had they come crawling back after leaving him with all the work.
Ask those who have answered the call.
Honestly, if I’m not following the Lord and His call on my life, I’ve got nothing to fall back on.
Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John were investing everything in Jesus.
They took chances and they dropped their nets with great risk to not only themselves but also to their families.
It’s called faith. Plain and simple childlike faith to see the path laid out in front of us one step at a time.
Now comes the warning label.
III. We each have a decision to make.
If you decide here today that your comfort is what’s important to you, that’s fine.
I understand that a decision to come after Christ isn’t an easy decision to make at all.
It makes no sense to give up the comfort of the cage to pursue something with no guarantees.
I’m not even saying you have to quit your job.
If you’re a carpenter, be the best carpenter in Bedford County.
If you’re going to dig ditches, dig the ditches that others brag about.
If you work in a hospital, take care of the patients with everything you’ve got!
No matter what you do, be the best you can possibly be.
If God calls your name, be prepared to give Him your best.
You have a decision to make friends
Don’t turn your responsibilities into excuses.
If the Lord Jesus Christ is calling your name and you use responsibility as an excuse, you are being irresponsible.
Your responsibilities become your rabbit cage and you never get to experience the feeling of responsible irresponsibility
God may be calling you to something that in the flesh makes no sense whatsoever.
Your own family and friends may say that you are crazy but remember even Jesus’ family felt the same way.
Maybe that was why Jesus was so passionate about life.
His will to serve the Father went way beyond the business of the carpentry business.
Never, ever allow your responsibilities get in the way of the passions that God has lain on your heart.
As we close, let me ask you a question.
What makes you sad?
What makes you pound your fist on a table and scream “NO! This can’t go on any longer!”
What are you passionate about that God has called you to do something about it?
We are all called to something.
First we have to be called to someone and His name is Jesus.
As we go to our hymn of invitation, I wonder if you’ve made the life changing decision to invite Him into your heart as your personal savior.
I wonder if you’re prepared to answer the call to join in formal membership with this church, enter into believer’s baptism or re-dedicate your life to the Lord.
Will you call out to the Lord in prayer?
Will you seek Him in whatever is happening in your life?
He called Simon Peter and Andrew the same way He calls all of us.
He calls us publicly. And when you step out in faith, you are taking the first step in professing a need for Jesus Christ in your life.