-In chapter 1 of Mark, we find that when Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John, their reaction was the same as Matthew’s, they dropped their fishing nets, and left their boats to follow Jesus.
– Like Matthew, they’d not had what it takes to be a disciple according to their torah teachers so they had followed the path that was expected of them – the family business of commercial fishing.
– BUT unlike the rabbis and torah teachers of that time, Jesus didn’t look at what they were in themselves – He saw what they would become by the work of His Spirit in them.
-Remember, the goal of discipleship is to become just like the rabbi. So when a young man began his discipleship, he picked a rabbi to follow by asking, “Who could I be like?” But most of them were turned away by the words, “You can’t be like me!”
-But when Jesus said to Peter and Matthew, “Follow Me” He was saying to them “I know that YOU can be just like Me.”
-What Jesus said to them, He says to you and I. We did not choose Jesus – He chose us! He came to us while we were going about our lives in this world, and He showed us there was a whole new way to live.
-We didn’t go to Him and plead with Him to let us follow Him. No – He came to us and said, “Follow Me – and I will make you just like Me.”
-That’s what the Spirit is doing in us – He’s making us just like Jesus. As it says inRomans 8:29 “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
-Disciples in Galilee followed their rabbi for 15 years, until they turned 30, then if they had accomplished the task of becoming like him, they became rabbis in their own right.
-But after only 3 years of training the 12, Jesus sent them forth to make disciples of the whole world. Matthew 28:19a says “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.”
-Jesus took the narrow doors off of what it takes to be a disciple. Before He came, only an elite few were disciples, based on their skill, talent, and intelligence. But Jesus based the invitation to discipleship, not on our ability, but on His.
-Even to this very day, Jesus comes to men and women who have been beaten down by sin, to those rejected by the authorities, crushed by parents and teachers who have told them they’ll never amount to anything, and He says, “Follow Me, and I will make you just like I am.” Then, even more, He entrusts His mission to us and tells us to go and make disciples who will be just like Him.
-There is one condition though – one necessary thing we must do. Like Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew – we must drop our current identity and occupation if we’re going to follow Jesus. Peter couldn’t follow Jesus and fish at the same time. Matthew couldn’t follow Jesus and collect customs duties at the same time. To be a disciple meant leaving his tax-booth.
– Now, i’m not saying we all should forsake our jobs and live and work in a church…what i’m saying is this, if we follow Jesus, then we must turn our backs on our identity as sinners and drop the things that make for sin…we must shed all those things of the “old life” the “old nature” and embrace the new life, that new nature that Christ offers us in Him.
-In Matthew 16:24 Jesus says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” See, the invitation is open to all – “If anyone” Jesus said.
– But the condition to following Him is to die to self so that Jesus can live in and through us. It’s this indwelling of Christ that brings the power to change us so that we become just like Him.
-Being a Christian today means we follow Jesus in the midst of our careers and vocations and family lives. What we leave behind to follow Jesus is the old man, our identity as people who defined themselves by the things of this fallen world.
-Jesus invites you to be His disciple today. He doesn’t invite us to be His student. The invitation isn’t even to be a Christian, or a deeply religious person. He invites you to become just like He is and to enjoy the closest possible relationship with Him.
-It doesn’t matter what’s happened to you in this world. It doesn’t matter what sin you’ve managed to immerse yourself in. It doesn’t matter that others have told you you’re a loser, that you’ll never amount to anything.
-Jesus stops before you today as He stopped before Matthew’s tax-booth, He looks you in the eye, holds out His hand and says, “Follow Me.”
-Just as the disciples were called to follow Jesus TOGETHER, so are we. The Body of Christ embraces men, women and children of all colors, backgrounds, and social levels. Our common bond is our relationship to Jesus, and that relationship erases all other distinctions.
-As Paul says in Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Applying that to today, we could say in Christ there is no Caucasian, Hispanic, African, or Oriental; there’s no distinction between ravers, skaters, Goths, surfers, punks, waxheads, preps, minis, silents, jocks, nerds, and geeks.
-As we follow Christ, we invite all, whatever their background, color, or ethnic group – to come follow with us in following Christ.
-And in Christ we are one.