Hillhall Presbyterian Church
SUNDAY 10TH FEB 19 (AM)
- I will make you Fishers of Men
- PrayIntroductionWhat’s in it for me?That’s often heard when people are talking about deals being done. Someone maybe asks you to help them out in some way and the response might be, ‘what’s in it for me? What do I get out of it?’‘Why should I do this thing you’re asking me to do - is there any benefit for me?’Is that how we approach Jesus? When Jesus calls us to follow him is that our response?Well, anyone who has truly followed Jesus will know that what’s in it for us is everything!But while there is EVERYTHING for us, there are things that we need to leave behind.And that’s what we’re looking at this morning.Are we prepared to leave things behind to follow Jesus?If Jesus asks you to follow him, are you prepared to leave stuff behind, whatever that might be, to follow him?PauseIn airports there are loads of things that you can’t take with you on the plane. These days the list is getting longer.So you’ve checked in, your luggage is away, you get to the security desk and you realise that you’ve got your £100 bottle of perfume with you. Of you’ve forgotten that your favourite penknife is in your pocket cos you carry it everywhere with you and you put it there from force of habit.And you have to leave it behind because it’s not allowed where you’re going.Do you say, ‘I’m not going on this trip.’ or do you drop it in the big perspex box with all the other knives and scissors, or give it to the security woman who might just take it home with her?I’d say for the most people, they would leave it behind - begrudgingly - but they’d leave it behind, because the trip is worth more than the item you’re leaving behind.And it doesn’t take much for us to get that.But when it comes to Jesus - when he calls us and asks us to leave our current way of life behind for a new life filled with blessing and hope and filled with Jesus himself, many people are reluctant to leave that old way of life behind.And part of the reason is that they don’t see that what is ahead is so much better than what they leave behind.THAT, or they want to have it both ways - to live the way they are living, come to church a bit more, and expect to have a new life full of blessing and the presence of Jesus wherever they go.But it doesn’t work that way.What’s in it for me? What do I get out of this? Is this worth giving up what I currently have?PauseLast week we looked at what it means to have an encounter with Jesus Christ - to come and see him. And we were encouraged not just to have a passing conversation with him, but a genuine encounter.And we looked at John’s gospel, where the disciples come and see Jesus and have this encounter with him.Some time later, we see what happens next... and it’s in Mark’s account of the events. After the disciples come and see Jesus, Jesus comes to them and he calls them…he calls them into a new way of life. “I want you to leave your old way of life behind and I’m offering you a new way of life that is much better.”And that’s what we’re going to look at this morning - what does a call look like and how should we respond to a call of Jesus to follow him and what does it involve? What does it require of us?Let’s look at the passage together. In fact, since it’s short, let’s read it again...16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.Now, there are a couple of things that we notice in this passage...First of all we see the persuasive presence of Jesus. Jesus just has to say, ‘come, follow me,’ and these guys follow him. These guys must have seen something in Jesus to not even ask, ‘what’s in it for me?’ or…they KNEW what was in it for them and it was a no-brainer.Second thing to see is that these guys just leave everything behind to follow him...18 At once they left their nets and followed him.So let’s dig down a little here and see what’s going on - what is it about Jesus that makes these people act they way they do? And what is Jesus offering them that means that they are willing to leave their livelihood and family to follow this man?What is it about Jesus that Jesus has to simply say, ‘come follow me,’ and they follow him?Well, we saw this last week in John’s gospel....Andrew and Peter had already encountered Jesus, and we saw that last week - they had already seen him and met him and spent the day with him. So they know that Jesus is the Messiah - the chosen one that the Old Testament writers were referring to all along.And because they had this encounter with Jesus and they knew who he was, they knew that following him was better than the life they had. A genuine encounter with Jesus will do that - a genuine encounter with Jesus will put you in a place where nothing else will satisfy unless you give up everything to follow him.I’ve heard stories of people who have been attending church for years, and then something is said from the pulpit and it takes the rug from under their feet. It kinda shakes them up. Something is said, that has maybe been said many times before - but THIS time it hits right to the heart.And this thought or word or verse - whatever it is - cannot be shaken. They can’t get it out of their head. There’s a niggling feeling that there is more to life than what they’re doing. It’s like that word from God is telling them, ‘you need MORE than this life. You need Jesus.’That’s the encounter with Jesus…and then, what happens is that either at that time, or a few days or weeks later, the person realises that nothing else will satisfy them unless they give up their old way of life and follow Jesus.That’s when they accept the call. The encounter comes first, then the call.PauseNow, here’s the thing - not everyone who met Jesus had an encounter in the same way that Andrew, Peter, James and John did. And we mentioned that last week and here’s the evidence...Remember the rich young ruler in Luke 18?18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.So this man had an encounter with Jesus, but it was more like the passing conversation. And the question, ‘what’s in it for me?’ had a different answer.You see, he didn’t see Jesus as worth more than the wealth he had. He didn’t see following Jesus as better than the money he had, or the power, or the prestige…so he wasn’t willing to let it go and leave it behind to follow Jesus.PauseNow, Jesus isn’t wanting us to leave all our money, sell everything we have and give to the poor before following him. The point is that we see following Jesus as a much better option than anything else - to the point that we are prepared to sell everything and follow him.Which leads us to the second thing to note from our passage...These guys just leave their livelihood and their families to follow Jesus - what is he offering them that is better than that?Now, we could be forgiven in thinking that these are simple fishermen who are poor and have nothing to lose...But these people aren’t poor.These people are between the rich and poor. Not that there was really a middle-class back then, but fishermen weren’t poor people. Andrew and Peter were in business with James and John - and the business must have been successful enough because they had hired hands - servants working for them.20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.You don’t have servants if you’re poor.So the first thing to note is that these people DO have something substantial that they are leaving behind. So why leave this to follow Jesus?Well, it’s like before - these people have encountered Jesus in a way that others haven’t - they KNOW he’s for real, that there’s something different about him and they KNOW that Jesus can offer them much more than they currently have.So there’s no deliberation here. There’s no reasoning. It’s an immediate following. It’s a no-brainer.18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.PauseNow let’s look at what Jesus said to them - what was his ‘call’ to them?17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”Before we look at what Jesus said, let’s look at what Jesus DIDN’T say...He didn’t say, ‘follow me and I will teach you how to become fishers of men.’He didn’t say, ‘follow me and you will learn how to become fishers of men.’That’s not to say he didn’t teach them because we know that Jesus taught on many occasions - but that wasn’t the incentive to follow.Jesus said, ‘follow me and I will change you. I will MAKE YOU INTO a fisher of men.’And that’s the call that Jesus puts to us - follow me and I will change you. I will change your life. I will transform you into someone better than who you are - someone who will be able to bring others into the kingdom of God too.The PCI essentials booklet puts it like this...Not better informed, but fully transformed.That’s the call that Jesus offers us - follow me and I will change your life. I will change who you are and I will MAKE you into someone much better with a different mission in life.You see, up to that point, Andrew, Peter, James and John’s mission was to catch fish - to sustain life on earth for as long as possible until they die. Jesus says, ‘your mission is going to change - you are going to catch people and bring them into the kingdom of heaven which never ends.’And here’s something else...back then, disciples chose their Rabbi. They chose the person THEY wanted to follow.In this case, with Jesus, HE CHOOSES THEM. And that is significant. Jesus calls THEM, not the other way around.And he calls US too.PauseBut while Jesus offers us a new life and a new goal in life, and so much more - that’s what’s in it for you. But while he does that, he asks us to leave behind our old way of life. And that’s where some people get stuck.Because for some, the old way of life (or the current way of life) is pretty sweet. For some, life is great. They’re successful and wealthy and life is great.Jesus isn’t necessarily asking you to give that up - but he IS asking you to love him more than that…so that when the ground is pulled from under your feet, you still have a hope and something to live for.But for some people, they are also successful and wealthy, but it’s through dodgy dealings and illegal activity or from the exploitation of people…Jesus IS calling us away from that. Jesus is calling everyone away from a life that contradicts the teaching of the bible, whether in business or just in general. There may be sinful practices you need to give up - is Jesus worth giving that up, to you?But for most people, we’re just getting on with life - trying as best we can to make it through each day. And for many people, they are slipping away to a lost eternity because, for many people in our world, they don’t realise that there’s more for them than this life.This life is NOT all there is - there IS more than this life. There IS more than living and dying - and that’s what Jesus offers - life and life to the full.There’s a great quote from CS Lewis, and it’s this...[There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind]And the disciples saw that and they immediately left their old life to enter into this new life with Jesus. But this new life came with a mission - it came with a goal... this new life with Jesus meant telling those other people, who are just trying to get by day by day, that there is MORE to life than that. That there is an alternative life that has more value than that. That there is an alternative life in the kingdom of God that never ends.The disciples are told by Jesus from the start that they will be made into people who go and tell others about this amazing life that can be had in Jesus. And that’s what the call of Jesus means to us too - a call to a new life, a transformed life, a life that is about higher things......but also a life that is about reaching out and telling other people who think that this life is all there is - reaching out to them and telling them that there is MORE than this life - there is an eternal life to be had if we would only let go of this life and follow Jesus.That was the call that Jesus had for my life. I just happen to be one of those people who have given up my career to tell others about Jesus and help disciple them. But you don’t have to give up your careers - you just have to let go of what you think is important in life and put Jesus in that place instead.And if you’re not keen on doing that, then perhaps you haven’t truly encountered Jesus.A while back I was talking to a woman who said to me, when I asked her about giving her life to Jesus, ‘Well, I smoke...’I thought to myself - wow. even though you don’t NEED to, you’re not willing to give up smoking in order to follow Jesus? You’re putting smoking higher on the list of priorities than following Jesus?That lady’s eyes hadn’t been opened. She didn’t see the far, far better things that lay ahead.We need to be careful, because what we’re holding on to in life is temporary - what Jesus offers us is eternal.The disciples didn’t think about it. Following Jesus was a no-brainer. They KNEW, they just KNEW that this new life was far better than anything that they had on earth.PauseDisciples are people who recognise that there is more to this life than living and dying and working in between. Disciples of Jesus are people who are willing to leave life as they know it behind in order to gain the much better life that Jesus has to offer, but also to tell other people the good news about how your life has changed.Jesus didn’t say, ‘follow me and I’ll teach you...’ he said, ‘follow me and I’ll MAKE you...’Make you into something new and into someone who will go and make more disciples.Disciples who make disciples.What’s in it for YOU? Everything!What have you got to lose? This life? Sure, this life may be great, but in 10, 20, 30, 40 years this life might be over and then where will you be?PausePerhaps there are people here who have been going through life having encounters with Jesus - maybe passing encounters or maybe something has been niggling away at you and you can’t shake it.Perhaps Jesus is calling YOU to give up your old way of life and enter into a new way of life with him.Or perhaps you’re in a relationship with Jesus, but Jesus is calling you ‘all in’. Maybe you’ve been feeling the nudge by the Lord to give up more of your life and follow him in a greater capacity - maybe in part time or full time Christian work. Maybe the Lord is even just nudging you on the next step and you want to give up a weeknight to serve him or to learn from him.There are opportunities within the church to serve God, there are courses too if you want to learn more. There are avenues available to anyone who feels like Jesus is calling them into more and more life.Maybe you’re having an encounter with Jesus right now. Listen for the call - what is Jesus calling you into?Is it to give your life to him for the first time, or is it to give more of yourself to him by serving him in some capacity? Is it giving up more of your time to learn more about Jesus in general.What is Jesus calling you into? Listen to his voice, and follow him. Let him transform you, let him change you, let him make you into that disciple that he wants you to be.Let’s pray.
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