Summary: In our Scripture today, Jesus is commissioning the disciples to the work of the kingdom. This is when their odyssey, their journey of faith begins and what a ride it will be! There are several things we learn about the call to the odyssey
Odyssey: The Call
I am a student of history. By the mid 1700’s, the East Coast was settled and civilized. There were virtually no settlements and only a few forts west of the Allegheny Mountains because it was a very dangerous territory. People would get scalped in the frontier, but no one was getting scalped on the East Coast. In cities like Boston, many of the streets were paved in brick. They had gas street lamps and running water and many of the modern conveniences of the day. But the city settlers heard these tales of opportunity and the expanse of free land in the west, untold riches, and of gold and made a commitment to become pioneers. Can you imagine that? Setting off for the wide-open wilderness when they were used to all the modern conveniences they enjoyed. Of the people who made the commitment to become pioneers, the majority stopped in Pittsburgh. That’s how Pittsburgh was founded, by people who set out west, and decided it was too hard. A few of the brave made it to Ohio and Cincinnati and then quit the quest and settled. Fewer still made it to St. Louis. So all of the folks who made the commitment to become pioneers eventually became settlers. And the same thing has happened in the church. Many of you who made a commitment to the wild unexpected adventure of following Jesus have become settled in your faith, instead of hearing and responding to the continued call of God to the odyssey. Too many Christians have become settlers in their faith rather than pioneers on a journey. They have gotten comfortable in their routines and are living low commitment, low sacrifice and low risk lives. They are in a place of comfort and complacency.
In the last two verses of Matthew 9. Jesus says, “The world is lost and needs a lot of help. That is why I have come. So the harvest out there is plentiful, the work is great but the laborers are few, so pray to the Lord of the harvest for workers.” In our Scripture today, Jesus is commissioning the disciples to the work of the kingdom. This is when their odyssey, their journey of faith begins and what a ride it will be!
There are several things we learn about the call to the odyssey. First, Jesus calls us to himself. Jesus doesn’t send us out to go do some great works. Instead the first thing that Jesus calls us to is an intimate relationship with Him. Our first passion in life should be our relationship with Jesus Christ. He should be our identity, our defining life center. There are a lot of people that believe in Jesus, but their defining life center isn’t Jesus. It’s their profession or money or sexuality or material possessions. Here is what is so sad. Somehow, we have lost our first love. And when you lose your first love for Jesus Christ, another passion comes in to fill that void. Today people say they love Jesus, but Jesus is not their passion, something or someone else is their passion. See ultimately it’s about your passion. See that is your first call, Jesus called his disciples to be in an intimate relationship with him. That it be your first passion, because it is really your passion that will determine how you really live your life.
Everybody in the room believes in healthy eating, but what sabotages your belief is your passion for food. You see, sisters and brothers, you always gravitate towards that which you secretly love most. When Jesus calls us, the first call is not to go do good works, that’s a byproduct. It’s not to be moral person, that’s a byproduct, but to be in an intimate relationship with him. You will become as small or as great as your controlling desires. The disciple’s life is defined by the relationship with Jesus. Everything stems from that. So you see the first call of Jesus Christ is to an intimate relationship with himself. He becomes our defining life center.
Second, Jesus calls everyone. Did you notice “Who” Jesus called and “Who” Jesus can use. There was significant diversity within the disciples. Simon, Andrew, James and John came from the world of fishermen. Levi was a despised tax collector, considered to be a thief and unclean in the eyes of the Jews. Simon was a zealot, an extreme nationalist for God. James and John, the sons of Zebedee, must have had a rough and tumble sort of volatile personalities that you might find in a biker bar, Judas was the only disciple from Judea. In Acts 4 it says when people looked at Peter and John they recognized immediately that they were unschooled and uneducated men. None of them were part of the religiously correct, or, by contemporary culture terms defined as successful. The point is this. Jesus did everything intentionally and thus he was intentional about diversity amongst his followers. But in choosing this diversity Jesus is saying that he calls everyone and that means Jesus is calling you and He is calling me too.