Whosoever means me, Anyone means everyone
John 3:16/ Luke 9:23
**Almost every churchgoer know John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Why is this so easily known? It tells us that God loves us, Jesus Died for us, and we can have eternal life through Him. Go to almost any sporting event and someone, somewhere is holding up a sign saying John 3:16.
How many times have you seen someone hold up a sign saying Luke 9:23?
***Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
This verse is in all 4 gospels. We need both. One emphasizes believing, the other emphasizes following. There is no believing without following.
In the previous messages we identified where we are in the relationship with Jesus. What we will discuss now is where he wants to take us in this relationship. Jesus will spell out the terms of his expectations of us, clearly so we can be followers.
The call starts out with two words: IF ANYONE….
It is an inclusive word, it means Jew or Gentile, man or woman, free or slave, no color barrier, no ethnic barrier, anyone means everyone. The invitation to follow is for everyone.
Some think we are not invited because of sin in our life. They think that sin in our life will disqualify us. We are trying to hide our sins. Lets look at his followers back then;
Peter, denied Jesus
James and John, Hot tempered, wanted people killed because of who they were.
Nathaniel; prejudice, nothing good comes from Nazareth
Judas Iscariot; betrayer and a thief
Matthew: tax collector
Andrew, Philip, James the less, Simon the zealot, and Thaddeus; ran away.
They made the cut.
Many of us are trying to hide our sins or hide from our sins. If we are in Christ our sins are washed away, our sins do not automatically disqualify us from following.
**Jesus did not call the qualified, he qualified the called.
***Maybe the one we might identify with is Matthew. He was a tax collector for the Romans, he had another name….LEVI. Could it be that his parents expected him to serve the Lord like the Levites were supposed to? His great-grandfather and grandfather were probably priests; maybe he flunked out of Rabbi school.
Something happened because Levi becomes Matthew and instead of serving the Lord he goes into business with the Romans and for himself. His job description would be to unfairly take from his fellow Jews and give to the pagan Romans. Tax collectors were religious and social outcasts in the Jewish community.
Matthew was a disappointment, did not measure up to, a social and religious outcast to his own people.
Have we made bad choices? Have we disappointed people? Have we let people down?
Do we wonder if God still loves us?
When Matt was little, we lived in Seneca Falls. We had a big pool in the backyard and I would spend a lot of time cleaning it and getting it ready for the summer. We also had a big bug zapper lamp near the pool.
One of the things I did discourage in the backyard was ball playing. We had windows and the lights back there, and with the pool taking up most of the yard there just wasn’t enough room. One day Matt was back there, playing ball with the dog. The ball bounced and hit the bug zapper breaking the bulb. In an effort to hide his “sin” Matt picked up the broken bulb and threw it into the pool.
The next day I was in the pool, skimming the leaves and vacuuming when I stepped on the bulb with my bare feet. Matt was nearby, saw what happened and ran into the house, into his room and hid. Loretta helped pull the broken glass from my foot and bandage it.
I went looking for Matt, when I found him he was hiding under his covers. He was upset, and confessed what he had done. I was angry with him, but then he asked me a question that melted my anger; “Do you still love me?”
I guess both Matthews were wondering the same thing, were they still loved.
Jesus stops by Matthew’s booth and utters two words. ***FOLLOW ME.
A Rabbi was a special class of people. They would have a group called **Talmidim, which translates disciple, in order to become a talmidim of a specific rabbi you had to pass muster. Those who did not pass muster most likely learned a trade. The selection process was intense, because the teacher was known for his students.
Paul would later pull out his credentials to his very Jewish audience; his most prestigious credential is that he was a student of a rabbi called Gamaliel. A Rabbi is known by his Talmidim, and the Talmidim are known by their Rabbi.
Matthew is called by a Rabbi named Jesus, no application, no quiz, no test, just simply a request, FOLLOW ME.
Just like my Matthew, this Matthew is told without words, no sin could keep me from loving you.
How do we know of Matthew being a tax collector, friend of sinners, prostitutes and drunkards? He tells us, he invites us to his pool and shows us the broken glass.
This invitation is not to the religious elite, or the morally upright, or those who have their lives together, but to those who have something to hide.
He does not call the qualified, but He qualifies the called.
2. The Church is not a gated community
In our area we have communities that are gated, we need an access code, you need to be a member of the community in order to get in. The invitation to follow is not a gated community, it is open to everyone, that is what ANYONE means.
Too many of us are still busy hiding the broken glass. Too many are holding back for fear their sin will be exposed. ANYONE CAN BE A FOLLOWER, but not without giving up everything.
ANYONE means anyone, a sexual past, an ex con, recently divorced, Republican and Democrat, Alcoholic, drug addict, hypocrite, gossip, and the like are invited, anyone means anyone.
I wonder if Matthew looked at Jesus and thought to himself, ME? Doesn’t he know who I am, that I sold my soul to the Roman’s, that I have cheated my fellow Jews for a few coins, I consort with prostitutes and drunks? ME? Doesn’t he know what a failure I am as Jew?
****YES He KNOWS (YA’DA)
He died on the Cross for those stains.
******Come and be a Talmidim, come and be a follower.