Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: But then the power of the resurrection touched them. And the disciples went from a lack of trust to becoming trusting of God for all things. They went from trying to save their life to giving it away. They went from having little faith to believing all th

It had started so benignly and yet it was the watershed event of their lives. When they woke up that day, it was like any other….but that would soon change. They were going about their every day activities. Some were fishing, some were repairing their nets, and one was sitting at his desk collecting taxes for the Romans. And then He arrived. He looked like a typical Galilean wearing a robe, sash and sandals but when He spoke those two words, “ Follow me” everything changed.

No matter their profession, this isn’t really what they really wanted to be. In Jesus’ day, every young man dreamed of being a rabbi, much like kids today wanting to grow up and be a professional athlete. In Jesus’ day, every part of life and education was geared toward preparing young men to become rabbis. Their childhood education started at age 5 as young boys went to the synagogue school to learn Hebrew and memorize the Torah. By the time of his bar mitzvah at age 13, a typical Jewish young man had memorized all of the Old Testament. Those who showed great promise were encouraged to continue their education by studying the interpretation of the Torah known as “The Yoke of Torah.” Those who excelled were further encouraged to continue by studying under and being mentored by a rabbi. After 3 or 4 years, they would “graduate”, if you will, and become a full-fledged rabbi teaching and interpreting the Scriptures and calling their own disciples to study under them. This was the dream of every young man in Jesus’ day.

But the reality was the vast majority had their dreams and aspirations dashed, being told somewhere along the way they weren’t good enough to become a rabbi. They were sent home to learn their father’s profession. When Jesus said, “Follow me” they recognized it as the call of a Rabbi to become a disciple, a dream they had given up on long ago. It is an understatement to say that they were not expecting to be called as Jesus’ disciples. They were grown men and had left those dreams behind long ago. They had accepted they weren’t good enough to be a disciple or to emulate a Rabbi. So when Jesus called them to “follow me,” the disciples must have been completely incredulous and overwhelmed. So now you can understand why when Jesus called to these men, without hesitation, they left everything they had to go and follow Jesus.

The road was not easy and it was filled with pitfalls. Many times, it became apparent why these men were not considered to be suitable to continue in their rabbinic studies. Their life and their values were more of the world than they were of God and they were often slow learners. The disciples had trouble trusting. After Jesus healed several people, they got into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee and a storm arose threatening to kill them all. Frightened to death, they cried out in terrorizing fear, “Jesus, save us!” Jesus replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" They had trouble believing and praying. While Jesus gave them power to heal and drive out evil spirits, they failed miserably because they acted to heal but didn’t pray and have the faith to heal. They were mired in individualism, every man, woman and child for themselves! When a crowd of 5000 listening to Jesus was getting hungry, the disciples wanted to send the people away to go feed themselves but Jesus broke the bread and the fish of a young child and served everyone with plenty left over. They often lacked patience and compassion. When a Cannanite woman yelling at Jesus to help her was getting on the disciple’s nerves, they asked Jesus to send her away. They were more concerned with their life than God’s purposes. When Jesus told the disciples that he would have to suffer and die, they responded, "Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!" They desired power, authority and position as they argued amongst themselves as to who will hold the position of highest authority in heaven. They trusted in the sword rather than surrendering to God’s purposes, when the Jewish armed guard came to arrest Jesus.

By the end of the typical three years of training when disciples usually graduated to become a rabbi, the disciples came to their final exam, the cross and the crucifixion, and failed miserably. Every one of them denied Jesus at his death and then went into hiding to save their own life. This Jesus, the man who had literally saved the disciples from their ordinary way of life and failed dreams, the man who loved them despite their failures and lack of understanding, was gone, crucified and they did nothing to stop it as they hid enveloped in the darkness of their actions. He was gone, humiliated, dead, like so many others before him who had claimed to be the Messiah. And now they lived in the darkness, weighted down by the horror, the violence, the fear, but most of all, the guilt and the burden of their memories and their betrayal. For they had failed and failed miserably. And darkness prevailed.

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