In this sermon, Pastor Neil continues his series on Travels with Jesus. This sermon, entitled, “Follow Me,” centers on the call to follow Jesus and what it means. Here are some excerpts:
…[T]he Sea of Galilee was not Peter’s first exposure to Jesus. Which, when you think about it, may encourage us not to expect that a single exposure to the gospel will result in the salvation of a family member or friend or anyone you long to bring to Christ. A single exposure may result in a person’s salvation, but more often God uses multiple exposures to the message of the gospel in the process of bringing an unbeliever to faith in Christ. Which also means that God may want to use you in one or more of those exposures to Jesus that will bring others to saving faith. It is something to think about. And something to act on.
Jesus doesn’t turn away from Peter. He doesn’t turn Peter away. Instead, He calls Peter to a new life. He calls Peter to a new mission. He calls Peter to a new vocation. No longer is Peter to give his life to fishing for fish on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus invites him to become a new and different kind of fisherman – to “catch” men and women, girls and boys, young and old, rich and poor, educated or not, and eventually both Jews and non-Jews for the kingdom of God.
Fishing, of course, is a metaphor for the work of evangelism, for the God-given Great Commission to go and make disciples of people everywhere, in Kingstowne and Franconia and Rose Hill and Springfield and Burke and Annandale and Alexandria and Mount Vernon and Lorton and Fairfax and Fairfax Station and Arlington and Falls Church and wherever we live and work, even to the far corners of the earth. The word Jesus uses in His call to Peter is zogrein, which means “to catch alive.”
This kind of fishing results in life, not death. True, Jesus calls us to die to ourselves, and our selfish, sinful nature. But the life He gives us in our souls is unlike anything you can ever experience apart from Him. It is life in HD (high definition); a life rooted in a love that is unchanging and unconditional; a grace-filled life, flowing from grace that comes free of charge to people like us who don’t deserve it and never will. It is a life marked by repentance, forgiveness, faith, hope, love, grace, and peace, all rooted in the saving power and redeeming work of Jesus on the cross.
Do you have this life living in you? It is as available to you today as it was to Simon Peter, to Andrew, James and John, and the millions – billions – of people throughout history who have embraced the message of the gospel. You may feel like some sin in your life has disqualified you from the kingdom of God. But you are wrong. Jesus promises that He will never turn away anyone who comes to Him in true repentance and faith. Not Peter, not you, not me. No one. Remember John 6:37. Jesus says: “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (ESV). That includes you.
You won’t find the words “Follow me” here in Luke 5. We do find these words in the call to Peter and Andrew in Matthew 4:19 and Mark 1:17. But the call is clearly implied here in Luke, because the result is the same. “They” – Peter, James, John, and Andrew – “pulled their boats up on shore, left everything” (nets, boats, the catch of a lifetime – everything) “and followed Him” (5:11). They left the fishing business in order to pursue a new vocation as disciples of Jesus.
Jesus doesn’t call us all to leave our vocations, to quit our jobs, to sell our homes, in order to follow Him. In some cases, He does. More often, He wants us to remain where we are. He wants us to serve Him and His kingdom in our present position.
Wherever we are, whatever we do, whatever our vocation, God wants each of us to be about His business as we follow Him, as we represent Him, as we live out our faith and let our light shine for Him in this world.