Pastor Lorraine's Sermon for October 12, 2003
The first thing Jesus did was to gather disciples around him
-- a group of people who followed Jesus
-- they ministered with him, helped him, learned from him, shared daily tasks with him
Not even Jesus ministered alone
Here we see the story unfold
as Jesus calls Andrew, John, Peter, Philip, and Nathanael (or Bartholomew)
John the Baptist has just identified Jesus as the Messiah -- the Son of God
John the Baptist and some of his followers are hanging out together the next day
When Jesus walks by
John the Baptist again says, "Look, the Lamb of God!"
Andrew and John (the author of the Gospel) are "pulled" to Jesus
It's as if they can't help themselves
They want to be with him -- They want to learn from him
They don't even know what to expect
There is just this inner longing to find out more
Jesus notices that they are following him, turns around and asks, "What do you want?"
They don't even know how to tell him -- or rather they can't articulate it
They simply want to be with him
So they say the first thing that comes to mind, "Rabbi, where are you staying?"
At that Jesus invites them to come with him
They end up spending the rest of the day together
-- getting acquainted, talking, simply being together
It was an amazing day
Andrew can't wait to tell his brother Simon
Finding him, he says, "We have found the Messiah."
Together they go to Jesus
Jesus looked at Simon -- no, he stared at him -- as if he was seeing his very soul
"You are Simon, John's son," he said
"You will be called Cephas"
It wasn't as if Jesus was giving Simon a new name
but simply speaking the name that was truly him
They were speaking in Aramaic -- the common language of the day
Translated into Greek, his name was Peter
and that's what he became known by
Cephas and Peter mean rock
That described him
the rock, lumbering, stubborn, dense, obstinate
but also solid, sure, stable, and above all strong
The on whom Jesus would say he would build his church
Before Jesus leaves town the next day, he looks for and finds Philip
He simply says, "Follow me"
Recognizing Jesus as the Messiah, he too can't wait to tell someone close to him
He runs to find Nathanael and tell him about Jesus
At first Nathanael is a real skeptic
Jesus? from Nazareth??? You're kidding, right?!?
Nazareth is the town where Jesus grew up
It's near the Sea of Galilee in the northern part of the country
The area around the Sea of Galilee had many gentiles living there
People in the area worshipped as many as 7 pagan gods
It was looked upon with disgust by proper Judean Jews
Galilee was second only to Samaria in ill repute
Philip knows Nathanael well enough not to argue
Instead he says, "Come and see"
Like with Peter, Jesus recognizes the real Nathanael and speaks to that person
There is a heart to heart speaking that allows Nathanael to recognize Jesus
He says, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel."
And so Jesus' band of disciples grows -- he now has five disciples
Five who said yes when Jesus said, "Follow me"
Computers are fun because you can do so much with them
Looking up words is easy
So I did a little search of the words "Follow me"
The two-word phrase occurs 27 times in Scripture
21 times in the four Gospels
All 21 times -- they are the words of Jesus saying , "Follow me"
Interestingly, there is never a casual use of "follow me"
-- when Joe says to Harry, "follow me, I'll show you"
Consistently when Jesus calls the disciples he invites them to come with the simple invitation
-- "Follow me"
Not everyone follows
There is the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and asked,
"Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?"
Knowing that the young man is caught up in his current lifestyle
-- it is his passion, even though he is a responsible person
Jesus tells him sell his possessions and "follow me"
-- make me your passion
But he can't do it. -- Sadly, he walks away
Then, there is Peter, just before Jesus is crucified
Peter says I'll go anywhere you go -- I'll even die for you
But Jesus says, "Where I am going, you cannot follow me;
but you will follow afterward."
And then he tells him that before the cock crows, Peter will deny him 3 X
In the beginning it is just a simple, "Follow me"
The disciples had no idea what the future would hold
No concept of what it truly meant to follow Jesus
No idea that for some of them it would mean their lives
-- or that for all of them it would become their lives
-- that, in time, nothing else would matter
They simply said yes to Jesus invitation to follow him
That's the way it begins -- with a simple yes
Jesus will lead you step by step, just as he led them
In time Jesus tells them to count the cost
Matthew 16:24 "If any want to become my followers,
let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."
Luke 9:57-58 Someone says "I will follow you wherever you go."
But Jesus said, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests;
but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."
Matthew 10:37-38 "Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me."
It's an invitation from Jesus that will demand everything you are and more
But it is also the most rewarding commitment you will ever make
Jesus only asks that we give him what we know
But daily there will be the opportunity to say yes again
To choose to follow Jesus today, with everything I am and know
For tomorrow's knowing -- no matter how difficult it is,
there will be adequate grace to continue to follow
Back to Sermons page
Return Friends Memorial Church main page