January 30, 2022

Following Jesus

Passage: Luke 5:1-11

What moved a young man from a wealthy family while being in medical school in the 1850's to go and live in the poorest neighbourhood in London?  What moved him to give away his new clothes?  What moved him to hand out free medicine to those who couldn't afford it?  But then what moved him to give up a career in medicine and to have gone to China and dress like the Chinese to be accepted?  What moved him to have worked as a medical missionary without any compensation?  When asked why he did all those things and what moved him, he said, “I made no sacrifice.  There was One Who sacrificed Himself and it became my desire in life to follow Him and go wherever He sent me.”  The name of the man who surrendered his life and career to Jesus was Hudson Taylor.  Each time when we come to worship, each time when we have our devotions in the presence of God, we have to affirm, “Yes Lord, I will follow You all the days of my life.”  The words of 2 Corinthians 5: 15 have to be true of our lives – “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him Who died for them and was raised again.”  Following Jesus means that become a disciple like the first disciples.  They never looked back; they never took time off.  No they were focused from that moment they followed Jesus.  The Greek word for disciple is “mathetes” and it's can be described as follow “A disciple in the ancient biblical world actively imitated both the life and teaching of the master.  It was a deliberate apprenticeship which made the fully formed disciple a living copy of the master.”  When we hear this we have a better understanding of what Jesus meant when he told a man who wanted to first bury his father and then come back to follow Jesus, “Let the dead bury their own.”  There can be no distractions; there can be no detours you take in life.  And you see, that became the problem for thousands who started off well in Following Jesus, but then they got lost along the way.

There are two principles we want to meditate on from Luke 5: 1-11.  First you have to 1 Develop A Passion For God's Word.  Luke says in verse 1, “One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around Him and listening to the word of God.”  The word “crowding” in the Greek has the same meaning as pressing.  The people were so eager to hear Jesus speak that they were pressing in on Him.  He had to get into one of the boats to have room to stand and speak.  Those people were hungry for Jesus' teachings and they followed Him from region to region.  And as Jesus spoke He saw fishermen at their boats cleaning their nets.  We have to understand – they weren't there by chance.  As much as they didn't drop their nets to join the crowd in listening to Jesus they were close enough to hear Him speak.  They wanted to hear His teaching.  You see, they joined Jesus before as He went from region to region to bring the Good News.  Those who joined Him were Simon and his brother Andrew and there were John and James.  Each time after they heard Jesus speak they went back to their profession of fishermen to provide for their families.  But again and again Jesus' words drew them back to Him.  Some commentators believe that without knowing it Jesus was preparing them for greater things to happen in their lives.  With what they heard Him speak it was like it created inside of them a great desire to hear more and that those teachings would do something in their lives.  A family was having devotions after supper and the father asked his 5 year old daughter, Katie, what she wanted to hear from the bible.  With excitement she said, “I want to hear about Jesus calling the children to Him.”  But her father protested, “Katie, we read that passage over and over again.  There are so many other passages we haven't heard.”  The little girl replied, “But daddy, Jesus tells me that the bible is for me too and I want hear Him say it to me again.”  There was a 5 year old who developed a passion for the Word of God.  And then we have to answer a question in our own person, “How much of the Word of God do you take in like food feeding you that you can grow spiritually?”  You see, my friends, it has always been something lacking in the lives of many followers of Jesus.  They go with the perception, “I know what I need to know and that's good enough for me.”  No my friends, there has to be more we want to have.  We need to develop a spiritual maturity.  St. Paul addressed the believers in Corinth who didn't grow spiritually.  They didn't allow themselves to grow by hearing the Word of God.  He told them that they wanted solid food, but they were only like infants that couldn't have more than just milk.  What is true in our lives? – do we study the Word of Goa so that we can spiritually grow?  The first step in Following Jesus is to listen to Him speak to us through His Word.

There is a second principle we learn from Luke 5: 1-11 – 2 Do What God Says, Even If It Doesn't Make Sense.  We read in verse 4, “When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”  Here was Peter who with the others worked throughout the night, and all in vain.  They didn't catch anything.  So, Peter must have been discouraged and he waited for nightfall to try again.  You see, at night was the best time to put out a fish net.  And now, Jesus a carpenter by trade, instructed Peter, a skilled fisherman, what to do.  Perhaps when Peter said, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything...”, he just wanted to be honest.  It's like he respectfully wanted to say, “But Lord, it doesn't make sense what You instructed me to do.”  But you see, it wasn't just Peter who questioned Jesus' instruction.  It's a part of our human nature to think that we know how things should turn out.  We want to pray and ask, but it's like we want God to agree with us and put His stamp of approval on what we want and think.  But then my friends, from Scripture we learn of how God often instructed His people to do things out of the ordinary.  Abraham was instructed to go and sacrifice his son that he waited for so long; Moses was told to hit a rock that water could flow from it; Gideon was instructed to send home most of his soldiers before the battle against the Midianites.  And then we read in Matthew 17: 27 of what Jesus told Peter of how to get a coin to pay his taxes.  He was to go to the lake and throw out his line.  The first fish on the line would have a four-drachma coin in it's mouth.  Many times what God wants from us is incomprehensible.  But there is a reality we always have to keep before us in Following Jesus – as much as the way sometimes might not make sense, the way He takes us on is the right way.  And the instructions we receive are the only ones to follow.  Peter learned that at the Sea of Gennesaret.  He reluctantly said in verse 5b, “But because You say so, I will let down the nets.”  After he followed the instruction a miracle happened – they caught so menu fish that their nets began to break and as they load fish in two boats they sank of the weight of fish.  That made Peter to say in verse 8, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”  Isn't that the confession we need to make from time to time, “Lord Jesus, how could I have doubted Your way?  And that after You have proven many times that Your way is the only way.”  Why does God bring the out of the ordinary to our lives?  Because He wants to have our unconditional trust in Him.  Let's follow Jesus without thinking of reasons why His ways should be different.