Summary: The choice is ours. Are we going to follow Jesus, or not.
September 13, 2015
The Decision to Follow
Opening words: Blogger John Reitmer attended a seminar nearly ten years ago in St. Paul, Minnesota. The topic was the human brain and how we make decisions. According to the speakers, the average person makes more the 35,000 decisions in a single day. Most of them are rather simple. Where to sit, what to eat at the next meal, what lane to drive in. These decisions are easily made and have very little consequences. Other decisions are more serious with long lasting effects.
Tom Berlin is the Senior Pastor of the Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon, Virginia. He says each Christian must make six major decisions in their lifetime. These decisions should not be made without some thought because their consequences are eternal. He outlined these six decisions in his book, 6 Decisions that will Change Your Life. This morning we look at the first major decision each Christian must make, the decision to follow. Our scripture lesson for today is John 1:35-42.
John 1:35-42 35The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).
It is impossible not to know the name C. S. Lewis (1898-1963). Do you know his story? As a novelist, poet, lecturer and Christian apologist, he held academic posts at both Oxford and Cambridge for decades. Yet, he was a blessing to the both academic and none academic worlds. His Christian faith can be seen in all of his classic literary works. Perhaps, you have read or heard of one of these: The Screwtape Letters, The Chronical of Narnia, The Space Trilogy, Mere Christianity, Miracles and The Problem with Pain. It is interesting to note that there was a long period in his life when he believed in nothing at all. In his memoir, Surprised by Joy, Lewis told how he was baptized into the Church of Ireland but the sacrament had no influence on him. He walked away from the faith and didn’t come back until he was 32. He thanked his friends, including J. R. Tolkien, for his spiritual wakening. Who do you credit for your spiritual awakening? Who do you credit for saving your soul? If that question makes you think say, “Amen!”
We begin our sermon series in the first chapter of John. It is obviously early in Jesus’s ministry. It is so early in Jesus’s ministry that Jesus doesn’t have a single disciple. That is about to change. According to the text, John the Baptist was with his disciples, when Jesus passes by. John the Baptist, who always was pointing toward Jesus and away from his own earthly success, identified Jesus as the Lamb of God. With this endorsement, two of John’s disciples leave him and follow Jesus. The Bible identifies one of the disciples as Andrew, tradition identifies the other disciple as John, the author of this Gospel. Seconds later, Jesus notices that they are following him and asks them, “Why.” It is an excellent question because no one likes to be stocked. They answer Jesus’s question with another question, “Where are you staying?” Jesus answers that question with an invitation, “Come and you will see.” They accepted the invitation and stayed with him. They must have been impressed. They stayed with Jesus until about 4:00 in the afternoon. At that time, the two temporary left Jesus and told others about him. Andrew told his brother Peter, who decided to follow Jesus too. In this story, three people decided to follow Jesus. In each case their lives wouldn’t be the same again. That leads me to an interesting question.
When did you first decide to follow Jesus? No two stories are the same. No one’s story is better or worse than another story. Your story is just that, your story. Your story may include loving parents who sacrificed for you. They took you to church every week so you could know Jesus as your own. For this reason, Sunday school was not an option, it was a requirement. When your heart was just right, God spoke to you in just the right way. You decided to follow Jesus. The people in your life never saw a great change and your story was not exciting. I like those none exciting stories because it sounds so much like mine. Or maybe, your story is exciting. There was a surplus sex, drugs and rock and roll. Maybe your story included long periods away from loved ones. To the outside world you were living the life. However, you knew the truth. You were miserable and your heart was restless. You didn’t like the person you had become. When you hit the lowest, God spoke to you. It was an incredible experience. You were born again! That was a good thing because you wanted to start your life over over again. The people in your life couldn’t believe the change. They had grown tired of the old you and wanted to get to know the new you. Can I tell you the truth? It doesn’t really matter how you came to follow Jesus. The only thing that matters is that you decided to follow Jesus.