Damariscotta Baptist Church
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

09/07/14 Sermon - Chosen to Follow Jesus

“Chosen to Follow Jesus”

Mark 3: 7-19

 

We are continuing in our reading and understanding of the book of Mark and today we find Jesus attempting to get away with his disciples. That word “disciples” is going to be the word of the day. I want you to put that word in your head, and keep it there throughout the rest of the time we are worshipping. If you need to, write it down on your bulletin somewhere. In fact, a good place to write it down, in today’s bulletin, directly under the title for my message, where it says, “Chosen to Follow Jesus”. While I am on the topic of the title of my message, I would like to point out, that the title can be taken, two different ways.

One can read it and think,

“Who was chosen to follow Jesus?”

or one can read it and think,

“Who has chosen to follow Jesus?”

I suggest you look at it both ways.

Each of us sitting here today, by the virtue of coming into church, has been chosen to follow Jesus.

The question is – Has each of us chosen to follow Jesus?

Now I don’t know about you, but when I read the word “disciples” and Jesus in the same sentence, I immediately go to the idea of the “Twelve disciples”.

However, if you were following along while MaryAnn read the Scripture today, you will notice, Jesus hasn’t chosen his twelve disciples yet.

So who are the disciples this verse is talking about? And to answer this question correctly, it is important to know

What exactly is a disciple?

 

Having Google at the time of my preparing my message, I found the definition and it reads:

1.   dis·ci·ple

noun: disciple; plural noun: disciples

1.    a personal follower of Jesus during his life, especially one of the twelve Apostles.

synonyms:
"the disciples of Jesus"

§ a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher.

"a disciple of Rousseau"

synonyms:
https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=what+is+a+disciple
 

So the word “disciple” at this point in the book of Mark, would have been anyone who chose to follow Jesus during his life, and the chosen Twelve were definitely among the group.

 

That means, while Jesus is going from place to place, Jesus has more than 12 men following him, listening to him, and learning from him. The 12 were just his Inner Group, and I’ll get to them in a minute. What I think is important to notice, is there were always more than 12. In my research to find out just how many there were, it seems the number fluctuated depending on various factors. The gospels record a significant number of 70, with times having more than 1,000’s.

Which makes sense, depending on the motives of the people following Jesus. Some came to listen and learn, some came to be healed, some came because they thought he was the Messiah and He had come to overthrow the Roman government and save the Jewish people from oppression.

 

In today’s reading of Jesus and his disciples we discover he has gone to the lake, they have a large crowd following them. We have a list of all the different places from which they have traveled.

 

We read they have traveled to see Jesus, because “they heard all he was doing”.

 

I suspect this crowd has heard about Jesus and how famous he is, and wants to see him for themselves and touch him and be near him. This happens today all the time in Hollywood. As many of you may know, when I met my husband Val, he was working in Hollywood as a Set Dresser, for a decorating crew that worked on major motion picture films. He spent most of the time being the “On Set Dresser” which meant, that after they had decorated a certain scene, they left Val to stand around while they filmed the movie. And if they needed a piece of the furniture moved for any reason they would holler his name, “Hey, Val” and the director would explain what was needed and Val would do it. Val called himself a “Glorified Furniture Mover”.

 

Val has many stories of seeing and meeting famous movie stars, and one in particular was when he was working on the movie, “Primary Colors” where John Travolta plays a character that was supposed to represent President Clinton. Now John Travolta didn’t hang out with the crew, but Val did observe him coming and going from the set each day. And the scene looked something like this.

Apparently, Mr. Travolta was escorted to and from his on-stage motor home by two or three body guards. He had a marked out route with ropes or a designated path in which he would go back and forth. And along this route, when possible there were always people crowding and pushing and shoving to get a glimpse of Mr. Travolta and reaching out to touch him as he went by. I remember Val coming home one night and saying, no wonder movie stars have so many emotional issues. There is no way a man can be normal when humans are trying to mob him all the time.

 

This is exactly what was happening with Jesus. He had his disciples close to him as he traveled, but on the outside there were those who were pushing and shoving just trying to get near him, to see him, hear him, reach out and touch him. At this time, Jesus has even asked his disciples to prepare for him a small boat so he could have some space as he spoke to the crowd.

Quite a picture.

And in the midst of this pushing, shoving and eager crowd to get close to Jesus,  we read that

“Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, ‘You are the Son of God’”.

Do you get the picture?

We have this mob scene, if any of you have been to any type of rock concert or large crowd event, where people are standing around, shoulder to shoulder, you can maybe imagine the scene. And then the person who is the star or the center of attention, begins moving. Then what happens to the crowd when one of the people, who is near the center of attention, falls to the ground in front of him? I imagine Jesus stumbling over the person, with the evil spirit and nearly tripping. And as he is tripping over the person, he is giving them strict orders to not tell who he is. And he is forced to keep on going, because the crowd is keeping the momentum going.

How frustrating!

And yet, how confusing. He is leading people, and he has followers he is trying to teach who he is, and why He is here, and while this is happening, evil spirits shout out, claiming who he is, and he shuts them up.

What’s going on here?

Remember the word I asked you to keep in mind today? Anyone?

Yes, disciple. Remember the definition of disciple? It has something to do with being a follower and learner of someone. Those evil spirits were not following Jesus because they wanted to be his disciple. Those evil spirits knew who he was but they were disciples of someone else, Satan.

You can trust that an evil spirit is not going to want to do what Jesus wants them to do, they are doing what Satan wants them to do.

Satan knew that it would be a disruption for Jesus if his evil spirits told the truth about his identity and so that is exactly what they were doing. Jesus was not ready to reveal who He was. He had a plan and he had the power to bring it about, including power over the evil spirits that pestered him along the way.

The next event Mark tells about is when Jesus decides to call 12 men, from the larger group of disciples, to be Apostles. I don’t know about you, but in my Bible, the New International Version, there is a tiny “a”, or superscript, after the word apostle, which takes you down to the bottom of the page, to explain, that ‘some manuscripts do not have “designated them apostles”. Which means, the idea of Jesus designating the word “Apostle” may not have been in the original writing of this book. But the idea was certainly there, the qualifications of an Apostle will come later. These 12 men were set apart and authorized with a particular function, and that was to be close to Jesus for the rest of the time he would be on earth. The number 12 was significant because it aligned with the 12 tribes of Israel. Jesus chose to invest in 12 men, personally. His investment meant he would be able to send them out to preach and to drive out demons. In other words, he empowered them, to spread the good news and to be stronger than Satan.

Then Mark gives us the names of the 12 he appointed. I learned them in Sunday School in a song.

There Were Twelve Disciples
Hymn Lyrics

There were twelve disciples Jesus called to help him:
Simon Peter, Andrew, James, his brother John,
Philip, Thomas, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus,
Thaddeus, Simon, Judas, and Bartholomew.

He has called us, too. He has called us, too.
We are His disciples, I am one and you!
He has called us, too. He has called us, too.
We are His disciples, I am one and you!

Remember, I asked you to keep the word “disciple” in your mind. The concept of Jesus, the Son of God, coming to earth and investing himself in 12 humans and then returning to heaven is intriguing to me.

Okay, I get the whole divide and conquer strategy. Jesus is surrounded by crowds all the time and there was no human way possible for one man to cover all the problems, so the wise person multiples himself and that way more people are touched and healed. What I want to focus on today is the character of the disciples that are chosen. Here are what some have described them to be, I would like you to listen and see if you can relate to anyone or recognize a characteristic that would describe you.

Simon Peter-Impulsive, but bold in preaching
James(of Zebedee)-ambitious, short-tempered, judgmental, deeply committed to Jesus
John-ambitious, judgmental, and later very loving
Andrew-eager to bring others to Jesus
Philip-doubtful, questions Jesus
Bartholomew(Nathanael)-Honesty, straight-forwardness
Matthew(Levi)-Trusting, hated by others for his tax collector career
Thomas-courage, doubt
Simon(the Zealot)-fierce patriotism
Judas Iscariot-treacherous, greedy

James & Thaddaeus(Judas)-unknown

 

If you were going to chose people to do a job and follow you and succeed, I wonder if you would have chosen the likes of these twelve? I would have liked to have been there when they had dinner together, or walked from place to place. There is a piece of me that is comforted by this list. You see, I can relate to a few of those characteristics, impulsive, straight-forwardness, as well as, deeply committed to Jesus. The best part of this list is, this group of men sound “ordinary”. And God uses their ordinariness to serve Him and to be effective. Jesus doesn’t choose 12 “successful, religious men”, he takes these 12 ordinary men and instead of changing them all to look like “good disciples”, he accepts them, just the way they are and develops their disciple making skills and smooths out the rough edges.  By the grace and with the love of God, they grow to be more like Him.

Do you remember the verse, Mark 1:17, where Jesus calls us to be disciples, He said, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And just before Jesus ascends into heaven, after his resurrection, Jesus gives the command to go and make disciples.

I believe this means that Jesus calls each of his children to be a disciple and to make disciples.

Uh-oh! That may mean each of you.

Now the word disciple is starting to get personal. 

I hope you are thinking in your mind, “What does she mean by thinking I am supposed to be a disciple? And I’m supposed to make disciples?

What exactly does she mean by that?

I am glad you asked. Because I want to make myself clear.

Jesus want to empower us to spread the good news and to be stronger than Satan.

What does true discipleship actually mean? What does it look like?

It looks like this –

We have been called to be a disciple and to make disciples.

The next question should be, “How?”

First, Jesus says in John 8:31, “If you abide in My word, you are my disciples indeed.”

The verb, “abide”, means more than just coming to church on Sundays. The word “abide” means “gaining one’s life from” like a branch abides to a tree.

We need to be close to Jesus, just like the 12 apostles. And today, the best way to maintain closeness to Jesus is to abide in his word.

Remember, He is the Word.

This means the Scriptures must be a part of your daily schedule.

An active part of your daily schedule.

Disciples were followers who were focused on learning. The true disciples followed Jesus around because they wanted to learn from Him. This means your daily schedule needs to include not just reading or hearing the Scripture, but thinking about it. Having a second thought, one of your own thoughts about the Scriptures.

I am talking about abiding here, which means action,

which means studying God’s Word for yourself.

Then once you have done all that,

Abiding means to obey God’s word, making it a part of your life.

Taking it out of your head and putting into action, being and living it.

I can hear it now. Some of you are thinking, she must be kidding.

I don’t have time to “study” anything, or

“The last time I studied was so long ago I don’t remember how to do it.” Or,

“I am definitely not smart enough to study God’s word. Marilee went to seminary, she learned how to study God’s Word, I am so far from that.”

My response to those statements is,

Excuses, excuses, excuses.

We all have 24 hours in a day, and we all have time for things we want to have time for. And remember, the definition of disciple is one who is learning.

We are all learning more about God.

Each of us is somewhere on the continuum of “getting to know God”.

It doesn’t matter where you are, what matters is are you moving forward?

Are you further along the relationship scale with God today, than you were yesterday, or last week, or last year?

In order to make sure we are, we have to be intentional.

It doesn’t just happen. You can’t just put the Bible under your pillow and you’ve got it.

Right now, I want you to be honest and think about how many minutes a day you spend reading God’s word and studying it.

I mean, after you read it, you think about it, contemplate, see how it fits in your life, or doesn’t fit in your life, in other words, “abide” in it.

Okay, now that you have that amount of time I want you to add a minimum of one more minute.

Start with one more minute, think about it.

If you add one minute, a day for each day, from now until the end of this year, you will have studied God’s Word for 2 more hours.

What I am trying to get at, is you need to intentionally do “more”,

not a lot, …………just more.

Be learning, …………….be a disciple.

 

Secondly, people are known for being a disciple of Jesus, by loving one another. Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” A disciple of Christ is recognized by trying to follow Jesus and pouring out acts of loving kindness in the church of God. We need to be lifting each other up and speaking kindly of each other. Inside the church, and outside the church, wherever we are. 

Finally, after we have been abiding in God’s Word and showing loving kindness to our fellow Christians, Jesus said, in John 15:8, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be my disciples.”

Think about it, can people see the fruit of Jesus in you? I am talking about love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness & self-control, otherwise known as the fruit of the Spirit.

Now don’t worry, I don’t think we can expect one person to have all of those characteristics, this side of heaven, but I think we can expect us to be working towards it. To be better at it tomorrow than we are today.

Bearing fruit also means taking every opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ whenever possible. Ouch!

I’m can hear it now, “I’m not good at sharing the Gospel. I don’t know what to say. I’m not sure I have it all figured out for myself.”

Again, it is not as difficult or scary as you think. I’d like to direct you to the front of this morning’s bulletin. The quote from Francis of Assisi explains the best way to share the gospel.

Jesus spent about three years with the disciples, those that followed him, and even the twelve he chose to be closest to him, didn’t completely grasp what he was saying. I think we can give ourselves a bit of slack.

What I don’t think we can do,

is do nothing.

It is my desire that each person here today, choses to be a disciple of Jesus, and to disciple others. By that, I mean you decide to take more time, not any specific amount of time, just more time, than you are doing now, to learn more about God’s Word, about God and about Jesus. And then pass it on. And there is no better place to make that commitment than at the Lord’s Table.

I would like to invite each of you to get up from where you are sitting and come down to the front and let us act like a genuine family of God and partake of the Lord’s Supper today, together. Let’s gather together, sit close to our brothers and sisters in Christ and remember what Jesus did for each of us.

 

[Lord’s Supper]

 
 
 
 
 
 
 Closing Prayer:

Lord, thank you for your example. I know your desire is for each of us to be your disciple and to share your gospel. I pray that as we reach out to learn and to be taught, more about you, that we find our Christian walk to be more challenging and more exciting, and that you give us a sense of purpose and direction. May we drink in every word from you and then apply what we have learned to our lives, and pass it on to others.

BENEDICTION:
 

Walk forth this week with intention, by the grace of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.