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Worship Series: Joining Jesus
Worship Theme: Called to Follow
- CWS 735 Speak, O Lord
- Grades 7-8: Angels from the Realms of Glory
- Lamb of God
- CW 453 Come, Follow Me, the Savior Spoke
Message: Joining Jesus - Called to Follow
Pastor Jon Brohn
Did you notice who Jesus invited to follow him? Four men. Simon (later known as Peter) and his brother Andrew. James and John, the sons of Zebedee the fisherman. Are these the kind of people we would expect Jesus to invite and confirm as part of his spiritual cabinet? What do we know about these four men?
Let’s start with Peter. Do you remember any details about Peter, his life, or his personality? Peter had three names. Simon, Cephas (Aramaic for “rock”), and Peter (Greek for “rock”). His father’s name was Jonah. His hometown was a little place on the Sea of Galilee called Bethsaida. He was married, made a living as a fisherman, and was a former disciple of John the Baptist.
Andrew’s background is similar to Peter’s. We could designate Andrew as the first of Jesus’ disciples. When John the Baptist pointed to Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29) Andrew brought his brother Simon to meet Jesus. Andrew liked to introduce people to Jesus, including a boy and his lunch before the feeding of the 5000 and a group of Greeks who wanted to meet Jesus.
James and John almost always show up together in the gospels. They were the sons of Zebedee and Salome. Since James is usually mentioned first, he may have been the older of the two. They worked in their father’s fishing business. It appears that they were prosperous, since Zebedee had hired men working for him. They were also partners with Peter and Andrew (Luke 5:10).
Did you notice anything else? Probably not. They are just regular, everyday guys. They go to the lake, they work hard, they catch fish (or don’t catch them, depending on the day) and sell them. They go home, spend time with their families, and the next day they do it all over again. They don’t appear to be anything special, and certainly hadn’t distinguished themselves as Biblical scholars or theologians.
Each of these men brought plenty of baggage along. We know how impetuous and outspoken Peter was. He always had a question, always had an opinion, and never hesitated to speak up even when he should probably be silent. Andrew loved to bring people to Jesus, but he questioned Jesus’ ability to perform miracles. Andrew was the one who brought a boy with five barley loaves and two small fish to Jesus but then asked, “How far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9 NIV). James and John loved Jesus and they were on fire for the kingdom. Jesus would call them Boanerges, “sons of thunder” because of their request when a Samaritan village refused to welcome Jesus. “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” (Luke 9:54 EHV). Jesus later welcomed a tax collector named Matthew, a religious zealot also named Simon who wanted to overthrow the Roman government at any cost, and even a man named Judas who would eventually betray Jesus.
Why would Jesus care about any of them, let alone invite them to be his students and closest friends? Do you ever wonder the same thing? Why would Jesus care about us so much that he would call to us, “Come, follow me!”? Who are we? We aren’t theological giants - Seminary professors or Biblical scholars. Most days we look at Bible verses and wonder, “What does this mean?” We are just husbands and wives who struggle every day to build solid relationships with each other. We are fathers and mothers who inconsistently discipline our children. We are sons and daughters who are afraid to talk to our parents about the way we feel and the struggles we’re going through. We are actuaries and artists. We are babysitters and builders. We are cashiers and custodians. We are farmers and volunteer firefighters. We are hairdressers and handymen. We are judges and journalists. We are managers and mechanics. We are plumbers and police officers. We are students and soldiers. We are teachers and truck drivers. We are waiters and waitresses. We aren’t the right kind of people for Jesus to call!
We bring along plenty of baggage too. Our baggage is as varied and diverse as our occupations. What are you carrying with you right now? The loneliness that follows a failed relationship? Bruises, either emotional or physical, because your spouse is abusive? Are you carrying the baggage of poor health after a life of abusing alcohol or drugs? The hidden guilt of a secret, physical relationship outside of marriage? The dark blanket of depression? The shame from that one night in college that still hangs over your head? Is it your struggle with feelings about gender and same-sex attraction? Is it the friction you feel because your political views are different from someone else’s?
We have a lot more in common with Peter and Andrew, James and John than we realize. We are bound together as ordinary people with ordinary backgrounds, carrying all kinds of burdensome baggage. Just like those 4 men, we are sinful human beings. There’s no reason Jesus should call us. There’s nothing in us that sets us apart from someone else as better or more worthy of being one of Jesus’ followers. Peter realized it after one of Jesus’ miracles. He and his partners had been fishing all night but hadn’t caught a single fish. Jesus told them to put out into deep water and let down their nets. Peter and the others caught so many fish that the nets began to tear. The load of fish was so heavy that the boats began to sink! When Peter saw it he fell at Jesus’ feet and said, “Go away from me, because I am a sinful man, Lord” (Luke 5:8 EHV). Peter and the other disciples didn’t deserve to follow Jesus. We don’t deserve it either.
That leads us to the priceless treasure Jesus has for you and me this morning. Jesus doesn’t call us to follow him because we are worth calling. He calls us to follow him because he’s worth following! If Jesus were here today, maybe this is what following Jesus would look like. Watch this video.
Jesus did all of that for us. That’s what makes Jesus worth following! Jesus calls us—average everyday citizens—to follow him. He calls us with all the baggage we’re carrying. He personally invites us, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17 EHV).
Peter and the others understood fishing. That was their business! They knew how to let down nets from their boats. They would throw the weighted nets out. The nets would sink to the bottom of the sea. When the fishermen retrieved them, the weights would come together, trapping fish in the net. Some days they caught fish, some days they didn’t. That’s why they call it “fishing,” not “catching”!
Fishing for people? If you didn’t know this, I love to go fishing. I could go fishing all day, every day. I wasn’t always a fisherman. When we first moved here from Texas, I didn’t know how to fish. Kay’s dad taught me over Memorial Day weekend when we were together at their cabin. I caught a couple of nice walleyes and a big crappie, and I was hooked! Over the past 17 years I have learned a lot about fishing, and I still don’t know everything. I’m not very good at the strategy of fishing. I just like to go. Sometimes I catch them, and sometimes I don’t. When it’s time to decide whether to go fishing or not, I have a foolproof method. Here it is—my fishing brick. I throw it up in the air. If the brick comes back down, I go fishing!
Those tactics might work when we’re fishing for fish, but fishing for people? How will we ever be able to do that? Jesus has that covered. He told Peter and the others, “I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus had already begun the process. This wasn’t the first time these men had encountered Jesus. They had heard him preaching the same message John the Baptist preached, “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15 NIV). They had even witnessed Jesus’ first miracles. They tasted wine at the wedding in Cana and were amazed at his power. Jesus had been preparing them for his call. His Word had been working in their hearts. They listened, and now they followed. They weren’t fishers of men yet, but for the next 3½ years Jesus taught them. He sent them out two by two to preach the same message. He filled them with power to do miracles. On the day of Pentecost Jesus would pour the Holy Spirit into them and they would travel to the ends of the earth with the story of Jesus’ love. Jesus made Peter a fisher of men. Peter went fishing for people in the city of Rome. He died crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to die the same way Jesus did. Andrew went fishing for people in what is now Ukraine. Early church tradition says that he was crucified on an X-shaped cross. James was the first martyr of the Christian church. He refused to stop preaching about Jesus in Jerusalem, and King Herod Agrippa had him executed. John fished for people in the city of Ephesus for many years. He wrote his gospel, 3 letters, and recorded the vision called Revelation.
Such amazing stories! Such faith! Jesus chose the right men to fish for people. He made the right call to choose each one of us. Remember, he didn’t call us because we’re worth calling. He called us because he’s worth following. He has equipped each of us to fish for people too. We don’t need to be Bible experts. We just need to love Jesus. That love casts a wide net. Whenever we listen respectfully to someone’s opinion, we’re reflecting Jesus’ patient love and his net settles over them. Every time we show love to someone else, we are casting Jesus’ net. Every time we speak positive words, or share our joy with someone, the net pulls them a little closer to Jesus. When we have the chance to share what Jesus has done, we are able to draw the net even tighter. Notice what’s happening? Jesus has equipped us with an incredible net—his Word. It is powerful! “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16 EHV). We live that Word and others see it. His Word works, and every once in a while we catch a person for Jesus!
When should we go fishing for people? Let’s try the fishing brick again. If I throw it up and it comes down, it’s time to go fishing...for people! Jesus has called us to follow him. Let’s follow! Jesus promises to make us incredible fishers of people! Let’s go fishing! Amen.