Summary: The call to discipleship and the God Who can make sure we follow through.
“The Adventure Of Discipleship”
By: Rev. Kenneth Emerson Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
A teenager once asked a lonely old man, “What’s life’s heaviest burden?”
The old fellow answered sadly, “To have nothing to carry.”
And as Christians, God has graciously given all of us something to carry.
Are we carrying it?
In the Book of Jonah we see a person who was called by God to proclaim God’s message a great city
“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against
it, because its wickedness has come before me.”...
...but instead of doing what the Lord asked him to do, Jonah hopped into a boat and headed in the opposite
Jonah was running away from the Lord. He was trying to get as far away as possible. He didn’t want to
carry what the Lord had given him.
How often do we, as Christians, decide to head in the opposite direction of where God has called us to go?
How often do we do the opposite of what God has called us to do?
And where does this disobedience lead us?
Well, we usually end up like Jonah.
A storm came up.
And eventually Jonah confessed that he was the cause of the problem.
Jonah instructed the ship’s crew to throw him overboard...
...so they did and Jonah was immediately swallowed up by a great fish.
Jonah was inside the darkness of that fish for three days and three nights...
...until he cried out to God: “And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.”
Now, Jonah had been running away from the Lord, but the Lord had not been running from him.
So at the beginning of chapter 3 Jonah is sitting on a Mediterranean beach, probably all shook up by his
recent fish encounter.
Then suddenly the same word from God came to him a second time saying: “Go to the great city Ninevah
and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
This time, Jonah obeyed the Word of the Lord, but with very little enthusiasm.
Why was Jonah such a reluctant disciple?
Well, Jonah is a good example of the disobedience to God that Israel often displayed.
Good Jewish prophets didn’t preach to other nations!
Jonah didn’t want the city of Nineveh to be saved!
He believed that there should be a strict separation between Israel and other peoples...
...but obviously God felt otherwise....
...Jonah knew this in his heart...
...and thus he was trying to thwart God’s will.
Do we ever try to thwart God’s will due to any kind of prejudice we might have?
Do we ever pick and choose who we decide to invite to church?
Is there anyone...or any kind of person who we are trying to keep out of the kingdom of God?
Are we unenthusiastic about bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to them?
Do we think that they should be saved?
Would we rather that they weren’t saved?
I have a good friend in Macon, Georgia who finally gave up and left the church he was a member of
because he was unable to persuade them...after years of trying...to open their doors and allow a group of people
who were different from them to come and worship God.
Well, The Book of Jonah makes it clear that God is concerned for the salvation of all people!...
...and as His disciples we are called to take God’s message to some places where we might not want to go.
Another reason that Jonah didn’t want to carry out God’s call was because he was afraid of the
Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, a nation which-- in its day-- had set the standard for dread and terror!
For Jonah, preaching to Nineveh would be like one of us going to Baghdad in Iraq and preaching to
There was no way Jonah was going to preach to that gang of cutthroats!
It’s a good bet that Jonah didn’t sing the old gospel song which states:
“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey,” as he sat on that beach
and heard the call of God.
So, Jonah walked toward the city of Nineveh...
...and he was not a happy disciple....
...he didn’t even do what God had told him to do...
Jonah stopped short of going across the city, and his sermon was not exactly a homiletical
...in Hebrew, it only consisted of 8 words!
But amazingly, Jonah’s sermon was a huge success!
The people of Nineveh accepted his message, they believed it, they repented....they were saved!!!
Through this story of conversion, God reveals again, that God is a God Who cares...