Sermon of Sunday service on November 10th, 2013

‘Follow Me’

Summary Sermon IREF 10 Nov. 2013

Niek Tramper

 

Gospel of Mark, chapter 1 verses 14 – 20

Can you image what happened?

In this passage the Gospel writer Mark tells how Jesus chose disciples (out of a bigger number of followers) to be with Him and to share His ministry of teaching, preaching and healing in particular. Jesus started his ministry of preaching the good News of God in the northern part of Israel that was considered as a spiritually dark area at that time and called twelve men to accompany Him in his mission. Here we find a repeated calling for four of them.

Jesus’ calling has quite a lot of consequences. The fishermen suddenly leave their work and join Jesus on his mission journey. Society at that time was very different from ours with all our employment articles and resignation conditions. Nevertheless no single protest sounds from the fisherman’s company of father Zebedee, while he looses two of his workers, his own sons.

 

Striking in this text:

(1) When Jesus calls, He calls with authority.

The addressees even didn’t think to escape or to postpone it to a later moment, or to talk about conditions such as: ‘let me first finish my job’, ‘let me first speak with my father’. No arguments. They didn’t know the consequences of this step. They were completely unsure about the outcome of this journey. The only thing what they did is to make a beginning with this Jesus, to obey His word of authority that came to them on that very day.

(2) The implications are far-reaching.

Some of these fishermen were students of John the Baptist. This John has pointed his disciples to Jesus as the Messiah, as the Lamb given by God to take away the sins of the world. In the gospel of John (John 1) we read that they showed an interest to follow Jesus. This repeated calling meant a real change in their life. It meant: leaving their job and steady income as well as loosing the daily intimacy of their family. One of the elements of being a disciple of Jesus seems this: to give up what makes our life certain, safe, predictable and stable in social and economic respect.

 

Jesus’ call today?

Is this calling of Jesus part of a very special calling of the Twelve, whom He named apostles later? I believe it is. Does it mean however that this passage is applicable only to missionaries, pastors and full time ministers? I l believe it isn’t. Most of us aren’t Christian workers by profession. We even may have a lot of questions about Christian faith. Nevertheless these words of Scripture have to say something in our day-to-day life, at the moment we take the bus or the bicycle to our work, when we are in our institute or when we are at home to care for the children. Four aspects:

(1) Jesus’ call is renewed in different stages in life.

When I look at the timeline of my own life, I realize the different moments in which Jesus spoke into my life and I couldn’t resist the authority of his voice. For example in my college time, the moment of my conversion. He saved me from the world with all its sinful patterns that were dominant in my life. At another point He showed me to do my study well and to enjoy my work while being a biologist and a disciple of Jesus. It was a new conversion: not from the world, but towards the world.

Jesus’ call ‘Follow me’ can come to us in very different ways, depending of the stage of our life. It might mean choosing for motherhood and giving all energy to the family. It can include a decision to serve Him in the day-to-day duty at work or in the study, dealing with the stress of responsibilities, with demanding bosses and always returning deadlines. He helps us to consider our study or work, not just as a preparation for a job, not as a daily routine or a means for income, but as a calling from God. We even might consider retirement, or being sick, or being unemployed with al its difficulties a calling to a stage of life where God can use our weakness to show His strength.

The implication of it:  we cannot explain our work in terms of utility, effect and success any longer. Position, status and power are less relevant to us. By His grace we begin to explain our work in the light of eternity. We discover how limited and how sinful we are, but at the same time we may know that everything valuable and respectful in our work will contribute to the honour and glory of God in eternity.

(2) Jesus’ call requires faith in Him.

My son in law owns an Internet business with a special program for professional photographers. One of the challenging aspects is to find the best computer programmer for the complicated software. When he has found a capable person, three points are important. (a) He is dependent of such a person. He cannot do anything without him. (b) He must be sure that the person is capable and that he has good intentions for the benefit of his business. He needs to trust him. (c). He needs to follow up his indications. The man warns for the danger of viruses in the software programmes and he needs to take action.

Take this as a metaphor of following Jesus. It is not so easy. It is a continuous process to be dependent on Him, to let Him go in front of you, to trust Him, even when His way leads through valleys and places of tribulation and anxiety. It includes being attentive to His Word, to listen to His voice. Jesus said: follow Him means to take up our cross. The cross of giving up our small ambitions; the cross of self-denial and denial of the common standards of this world that can make us rich, influential and powerful; the cross of suffering false insinuations and discrimination because we don’t want to adapt to the world’s scheme and standard.

(3) Jesus’ call is connected with a promise.

In the text Jesus adds a promise: ‘I will make you fisher’s of man.’ He addresses the future disciples in the field of their experience and work. They know how to catch fish, how to use the nets and the boats. But they don’t know what it means to catch people. Note that Jesus says that it is His concern. Their concern should be to follow Him. His promise is that they will become fishers of man.

Dear brothers (who will be installed in the office of elder and deacon today), your main concern should be to follow Jesus, and we pray that you and we all may be faithful followers of Him. That we will be filled by His love and by the Holy Spirit, so that we can love others not simply by our sympathy or good heart, but by the love of Him that goes deeper than any human sympathy or action.

(4) Jesus’ call reaches very different characters

Jesus has entrusted the continuation of His work on earth to the apostles, to his church. It is remarkable how different the people, whom Jesus calls, are. Only look at two brothers: Andrew and Peter. The first is more a background person, has a more philosophical mind, and seems to be an introvert. The other is outspoken, with the ‘heart on his tongue’, extravert. Some of us have a special gift of teaching. Some have a strong gift of openness and hospitality, being attentive to the social and psychological needs. Others have a special eye for aspects of unrighteousness, new forms of violence and slavery in society. And all gifts need to work together to be fishers of man. It is an important task for our two brothers who will be installed today, to be connectors and encouragers. When different characters and different gifts cooperate, the whole fellowship will benefit from it, and people around will be attracted. They will be caught by the net of the Gospel and find salvation in Christ.

(5) Jesus’ call relates to the world’s deepest need

The task that Jesus entrusted to his disciples is not accidental. There is a big need behind. Because as soon this world fell away from God in disobedience, the lack of Gods glory and honour began to be manifest. That’s why people became captivated in self-centredness and sin, giving way to make themselves gods instead of honouring the living God. That is why they became imprisoned in their own thinking, aspirations and ideologies. People became like lost sheep without any shepherd. We cannot deny the hatred, the satanic forces, the pain and the suffering in so many parts of the world today. We cannot deny the spots of pain and darkness in our life. We begin to understand how much this world needs to be rescued. And we should know that our deepest and most original need is the spiritual need: that we are separated from the living God, and live as flowers cut of their roots as long as we are not reconciled with God through the blood of Jesus. That’s is why Jesus came:

-to take away the sin of this world as the lamb of God;

-to save us from being lost, from being subject to the wrath and damnation of God;

-to bring us together into the peace with God, into an eternal salvation to the glory of the Father.

 

Conclusion

-If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus: trust Him for the next step, the next stage in your, listen to Him day by day and be obedient to his word.

-If you want to become a ‘student’ of Jesus, pray honestly to Him asking that He might reveal himself to you; ask a Christian friend to help you further and to pray with you. You can contact us at the website of IREF

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