Today Pastor Jonathan preached from Matthew 4:12-25. The message he wanted us to take away was Jesus’ call to “Follow me”.
See it Clearly
I saw two big points in the sermon.
1. Who are we to follow?
Reviewing the fist chapters of matthew, Pastor Jonathan made it clear that Jesus is the King of Kings (Rev 17:14), the promised Messiah (John 4:25-26), and Immanuel or “God with us” (Matt 1:23). Christ has ushered in a new age and a new exodus for the people of God. This time our exodus is from the power of sin and the influence of this world, which is under the power of the enemy. God announced this new age at the Baptism of Christ and then Jesus proved his authority and his allegiance to the Father during his temptation (testing) in the desert. Indeed Jesus is the God-man, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who we are to follow into eternity.
2. What does it look like to follow him?
Pastor Jonathan made the point that Jesus came to call people from darkness and he himself is the light. He said that “Jesus is calling people out to follow him.”
In describing Jesus’ promise to make his disciples fishers of men, Pastor Jonathan described that Jesus himself (by the power of the Holy Spirit) will accomplish the willing and the doing in us (Phil 2:13). He said “Christ is the enabler and the doer through them…despite their strange quirks”.
Looking about the room, Pastor Jonathan asked the question, “Is this all it means to follow Jesus? Does it just mean coming to church or having a 5-minute devotion… or does it mean giving your life?” We were challenged today to consider if we are a light shining in a dark place. We were challenged to consider if we are fishers of men or not and what that may say about our following Jesus or not.
The point was made that the great commission does not exist as an end to itself, but to make more worshipers. God is building a choir of burning lights who will represent all peoples of the earth and we will sing together of the glory of our great God!
Get it Truly
On who we are following
I understand from the sermon and the text he referenced that we follow no mere man who calls us to do the impossible and then leaves us to our own devices in a ridiculous effort to lift ourselves up by our bootstraps. No ma’am. We are following the creator of our souls (John 1:3; Col 1:16). We are following the one who commands the waters (Luke 8:25) and who holds together the planets and the stars (Col 1:17). Before Christ came the law was at best a guardian and a guidepost, and at worst a condemnation (Gal 3:21-24; 1 Cor 15:56; Rom 4:15). But by the eternal command to bring about the obedience of faith, Jesus comes and gives us a new power…grace (John 1:17; Rom 1:5, 16:26). The Gospel of Christ provides what the law demands (Rom 8:3-4)! A poem by John Bunyan (Puritan pastor and author of Pilgrim’s Progress) helps to illustrate the impact of the grace of God…
Run, John, run, the law commands But gives us neither feet nor hands, Far better news the gospel brings: It bids us fly and gives us wings.
I take this poem to be helpful because it bridges me to how in the world I am going to become a fisher of men.
On what it looks like to follow Jesus
Thank the Lord for his amazing grace! Like last week’s sermon helped us to see, the grace of God is not a cheap grace that licenses sin but a transforming grace that empowers us to do the impossible. The Apostle Paul makes this abundantly clear in Titus 2:11-14. Today Pastor Jonathan lays out the need for personal reflection as to what the grace of God is doing in our lives with respect to our “fishing”.
The Apostle John tells us that if we abide in Jesus, we ought to walk as he walked (1 John 2:6). Jesus describes his sheep in Matthew 25:35-36. The description did not involve a reference to how many Bible verses were memorized or how many church services were attended. Jesus describes his sheep based upon their love. The kind of spirituality that God is interested in us having does not look like coffee and a crumpy and my Bible. The Lord calls us to be poured out (Isaiah 58:6-11).
“10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.” (Isaiah 58:10, ESV)
Pastor Jonathan pleaded with us to follow Jesus and to consider what that really looks like.
Value it Appropriately
This message is valuable to me because I do not want to go through the spiritual motions and play the part of the nice Christian who in the end was selfish and focused only on my own vertical relationship with God. I would love to finish this race with a wide birth of horizontal impact on the world for the glory of God. We are promised that we will indeed be fishers of men but I must step out of the boat before I can walk on the water.
Feel it Fully
This message pushes me to personal reflection and careful consideration of my motives and attitudes. What does my following of Jesus look like? Am I just following him to Starbucks or am I following him to a baptism of death and a pouring out of my life? Maybe this message hits me flat and I have no emotional response whatsoever. Maybe I need to get alone with God and pray and seek him and ask him to help me know if my following looks like he is calling for it to look. Maybe I need to pray that he would add to my zeal and that he would grant me new desires and greater affection for Jesus. Maybe I need to pray that he would give me a heart for others and a diminished treasuring of the world and its distractions.
Do it Joyfully
So I am certain that this message of following the omnipotent Son of God into a life of service to the glory of God and the joy of his people will only be acted upon if I can do it with joy. I have seen God change my drives and passions before. Perhaps I should focus on seeking him and looking for him to give me a heart that wants to live this message. Perhaps this is the first step in being a fisher of men. The desire for desire might be the first step that I can manage right now…this is a great start. Or maybe I am “all in” and I want to shout it from the mountain top. Maybe then I need to consider how to best share this good news of the hope of Jesus with those I love and with those I have some influence with.
Share it Compassionately
Is there anyone I know who would benefit from hearing the message of this sermon? Maybe I can carry the message to them or maybe I can bring them next week.
Soli Deo Gloria!