Summary: This sermon is from a series called "Follow the Leader" that traces the topic of discipleship through the Gospel of Mark.
THE CALL TO FOLLOW (2)
Follow The Leader – 2
This morning we will be continuing our series tracing the topic of following Jesus throughout the Gospel of Mark. Last week we looked at the calling of Peter and Andrew, James and John to be disciples of Christ. This week we will be looking at a much more surprising calling. We will be studying the call of Levi who is better known to us by the name of Matthew and who is also the author of the Gospel by that name.
Last week we learned what kind of people Jesus is looking for. This week I want to use the calling of Levi as a case study in how we as Christians should be following Jesus example of reaching out to others with the message of the good news.
The first thing that I see here is that…
1. JESUS GOT AROUND OTHER PEOPLE.
Mark 2:13, “Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him and he began to teach them.”
Jesus didn’t just sit around the synagogue all day. Jesus didn’t just hang around the temple courtyard all the time. Instead Jesus went out where the people were. He didn’t isolate himself alone on a mountain top. Although he certainly did retreat there from time to time for prayer and refreshment. No. Jesus got out among the common people.
As I see it he probably did this partly from necessity and partly from practicality. Jesus did go to the synagogues to teach those who were gathered there, but the self-righteous people who controlled the synagogues didn’t like his message and so they kept throwing him out. Jesus found it necessary to teach on the hillsides and lakeshores because the traditional avenues were closed to him.
This reminds me a lot of the ministry of John Wesley. John Wesley was in many ways a traditional churchman, but the powers that be in the Church of England in his day didn’t appreciate his radical message of repentance from sin and faith in Christ alone for salvation. As a result he was thrown out of church after church after church until at last he had no places left he could go to preach.
John Wesley didn’t allow that to stop him. Being shut out of the churches he turned to the streets and pastures and began to preach there. And in those places crowds numbering in the multiplied thousands gathered to hear him proclaim the gospel. Far more people heard John Wesley’s sermons in the highways and byways than would have ever heard him if he had been confined to the sanctuaries of England.
Not only did far larger crowds hear him, but also far different crowds heard him than if he were to preach only in the churches. He would go to the mines and mills and preach to the workers as they were coming and going from their shifts. People who never would have darkened the door of the church flocked to hear him in these unusual locations.
And that leads me to the practical side of why Jesus went out to the lakeside to preach and teach. There he could preach to far more people than would ever be able to crowd into a local synagogue. And there he would find an audience to teach that he would never be able to reach in the temple courts simply because they never went there.
Jesus is setting an example for us that makes us very uncomfortable. He is showing us that we as Christians must do more than simply open the doors on Sunday morning and put out a sign that says, “Everyone Welcome.” The reason being that if we only reach out to people who show up on Sunday morning then we will miss the vast majority of our community.
I will grant you that we are living in far different times than those of Jesus or even those of John Wesley. Today if we were to go to the factory and start preaching in the parking lot my guess is the police would be called in and we would be hauled off before we could get much preaching done.
So while we may need to find a different practice the principle nonetheless remains the same. We must find a way to move beyond the walls of the sanctuary in order to reach out. Someone once quipped that “Christians are no longer fishers of men, but keepers of the aquarium.” For far too long the churches approach as been to build a building and open the doors and tell the world you must come to us. But the practice that Jesus models for us is exactly the opposite approach. His approach was to get up and go to where the people were. And the fact is that this is the commission he gave to his disciples and by extension to us. Mark 16:15, “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’” He didn’t say sit back and wait for the world to come to you. He said you get up and go to the world. Radical. Uncomfortable. Intimidating. Necessary.