The Call of Discipleship
Sunday, May 02 , 2010 am
Reading: Mark 1:16-20 ESV
This past week, I got a call from Jean asking that we pray for her. She’s having some pain in her leg and foot and was worried that she might loose her leg.
I got another call this past week from Jean. She said she had been to the doctor and it’s not that serious, but she needs to take it easy for a while and get lots of rest.
I got another call this week from Wes inviting me to his concert.
My wife got a call this week from our daughter Bridget. She called to tell us that the restaurant where her husband worked burned to the ground and that he no longer had a job there, but that he got another job the same day!
Some calls are bad news, others are good news, and still others are great news.
I can even remember a few of the calls I’ve made. 23 years, 347 days ago I made a call to my mom and dad. I said, “It’s a boy!” Some of you may be making a call similar to that before the year’s over. I may be getting a call like that myself before the year’s over.
And we never want to miss a call. Everybody today has a cell phone, it seems. We never want to be too far away from the phone, just in case someone calls. And then we have voice-mail, just in case we do miss an important call.
But it’s my suspicion that most of the calls we think are so important, aren’t really all that important. And the one call that is the most important call of all, is most frequently ignored.
Of course, I’m not talking about telephone calls now. I’m talking about the call of Jesus to discipleship.
In the verse that was read earlier for us, we read about four men, Simon, Andrew, James and John who were fishermen. And I know we have a few people here who love to fish. But when Jesus called these four men, they dropped their nets and they followed Jesus. They left everything that they had known behind because they knew that catching people for the kingdom of God was a whole lot more exiting and rewarding than catching fish.
This morning, we want to look at the call of Jesus to discipleship.
I. It is imperative.
A. The four fisherman were given a command by Jesus, “Follow me.”
1. He didn’t offer them a suggestion, he issued a command.
2. They obeyed the command and followed.
3. When I say that the call to discipleship is imperative, what I mean is that it’s a command.
4. And when a command is given there are consequences for obeying the command and consequences for ignoring the command.
B. Levi was given the same command. Mark 2:13-14 ESV He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. (14)And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him.
C. Jesus issued the same command to Philip. John 1:43-51 ESV The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." (44) Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. (45) Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." (46) Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." (47) Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!" (48) Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." (49) Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (50) Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these." (51) And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
1. Philip not only followed, he immediately began the task of fishing for people.
2. He got his friend Nathaniel and they both followed Jesus.
II. It requires leaving some things behind.
A. Simon and Andrew were casting a net into the water when Jesus called them.
1. The text says that immediately they left their nets and followed him.
2. It doesn’t say that they brought in the nets and stowed all their equipment and followed Jesus.
3. They immediately left their nets.
a. In the water.
b. Full of fish.
c. They didn’t haul in the catch first, they immediately left their nets right where they were and followed Jesus.
4. I don’t know how much fishing nets cost back then, but imagine that a professional quality broadcast fishing net was pretty expensive.
5. They left the nets and followed Jesus.
B. James and John were mending their nets.
1. They left their nets and followed Jesus.
2. They left the business to their father, who was probably hoping to leave the business to them.
C. Levi (Matthew) left a lucrative tax collection business to follow Jesus.
1. The tax collection business in those days (as today) was quite lucrative.
2. Matthew was probably a very wealthy man.
3. Because the tax collector could collect whatever he was able to collect and he had the Roman army to back him up.
4. They didn’t have tax tables or exemptions or deductions.
a. The rates were set by the collector based on what he thought he could collect.
b. Rome only demanded a set amount from his district, but he was free to collect what and how he saw fit to collect.
5. Even if Matthew had wanted to retire from the tax collection business, he could have sold his business for a tidy sum.
6. But instead he left it all behind, rose and followed Jesus.
D. The call to discipleship demands leaving things behind in order to follow Jesus.
1. That is no less true today than it was for Simon, Andrew, James, John or Matthew.
2. Now, I can’t tell you specifically what it is that you must leave behind to answer the call to follow Jesus, but I can think of a few things we must all leave behind.
a. We must leave sin behind.
1.) The final instruction of Jesus to his disciples is that they should go and make disciples, baptizing them (Mathew 28:19).
2.) And the very first time Peter proclaims the gospel message he urges people to “repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38).
a.) Repentance by definition is the turning away from sin.
b.) Baptism itself is a representation of dying to sin to live for Christ. Romans 6:1-8 ESV What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? (2)By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (3)Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (4)We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (5)For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (6)We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (7)For one who has died has been set free from sin. (8)Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
3.) To become a disciple of Jesus we must renounce sin.
b. We must leave behind whatever is hindering you from answering the call to follow Jesus. Luke 9:57-62 ESV As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." (58)And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." (59)To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." (60)And Jesus said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." (61)Yet another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home." (62)Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."
1.) Here in Luke 9, Jesus confronts 3 “would-be” disciples.
a.) They are interested in following Jesus.
b.) But they’re not committed to discipleship.
2.) The first man says, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
a.) But he hasn’t seriously considered the call of discipleship.
b.) Jesus reminds him that he may not be comfortable being a disciple.
i. “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
ii. Jesus asks this man to consider first if he is willing to leave the comfort of home for the uncertainty of comfort in the life of a disciple.
iii. Jesus is not interested in “fair-weather” disciples.
c.) Discipleship is a commitment to remain faithful to the call “through thick or thin.”
3.) The second man says, “Let me first go and bury my father.”
a.) Jesus tells this man, “Let the dead bury their own dead.”
b.) That seems almost rude, doesn’t it?
i. But we must understand that Jesus sees the heart.
ii. This man asked for a short delay for an important obligation, but perhaps there was more to it than that.
iii. What starts out as a short delay has a way of turning into complete rejection.
c.) There is nothing in discipleship that would prevent a person from honoring their recently deceased parents by giving them a proper burial.
i. But what this man was saying is, “I’ve got more important matters to attend to.”
ii. And what Jesus is saying is, “There is nothing more important than this.”
d.) Jesus tells this man, “Go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
i. And I believe that what Jesus meant here was, “Go and take care of your family obligation as my disciple.”
ii. So many times people desire to put off discipleship, when the things they want to do would be done so much more effectively as a disciple.
e.) If your answer to Jesus is, “I’m not ready,” Jesus’ response is, “What’s more important?”
4.) The third man says, “Let me say good-bye to my friends first.”
a.) Jesus tells him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
b.) What he means is if your main concern is what you are leaving behind, your not fit to be a disciple.
c.) What happens when you’re plowing and you look behind you?
i. The body tends to follow in the direction the head faces.
ii. And the rows you plow aren’t very straight.
d.) If you are more concerned about what you give up to become a disciple than with what you gain by becoming a disciple, you won’t be a very good disciple.
e.) If there’s something you think you need to leave behind, leave it behind.
f.) Don’t look back, like Lot’s wife. You remember what happened to her?
III. How Jesus calls us to discipleship.
A. Jesus ascended into heaven and is ruling from his heavenly throne.
1. Don’t expect Jesus to tap you on the shoulder and say, “Follow me.”
2. He’s left the task of making disciples to those who are already disciples.
B. Don’t expect to hear voices.
C. Don’t expect to see the miraculous.
D. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 ESV But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. (14)To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. The call of discipleship is through the gospel.
a. The gospel is the good news that Jesus took away our sins through his death on the cross and through his glorious resurrection.
b. And through his death for us we have hope and joy and peace.
2. It’s a call that touches the intellect.
a. It’s a message that can me told and comprehended,
b. That there is hope for the sinner who will turn to Jesus.
3. It’s a call that touches the heart.
a. Jesus loves you so much that he sacrificed his own comfort and gave his life for you.
b. And it wasn’t because you were so good as to deserve it.
c. He died for you, not because you deserved it, but simply because you needed it.
d. The call of the gospel is the call of love that transcends the intellect to touch the heart.
4. The call of the gospel is a call that moves us.
a. From darkness to light.
b. From death to life.
c. From enemy of God to friend of God.
d. From hell to heaven.
e. From condemnation to complete justification.
f. From sin to sanctification.
The call of Jesus is, “Follow me.”
Will you follow Jesus? Will you stop making excuses? Will you leave sin behind? Don’t look back, look forward. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Will you come? Will you follow Jesus? Will you do it now?