Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 4:20 (Holman) Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
Jesus commanded Peter and Andrew to follow Him. This would sound arrogant from anyone else, but seemed to fit Jesus perfectly. The brothers, unphased by it, gave themselves “immediately” to following Him.
Don’t tarry to do God’s will. Never linger in temptation. Excuses are refusals. Delays are denials. “Wait” is “no”. Elisha left home. Moses and David left sheep. The Samaritan woman left her water pot. Matthew left his tollbooth. Bartimaeus left a cloak. Forsake all reluctance. Obey quickly.
Obey Jesus with alacrity. Augustine knew he should have received Christ years before he did. He would actually pray, “Lord, save me, but not now.” In his later years he deeply grieved and regretted his foolish delays.
Peter, Andrew, and soon James and John (v. 22), came after Jesus together, as a group. Following Christ is meant to be a process of relational discipleship shared with other growing Christians. Effectively maturing in Christ longterm requires relationships; it cannot take place in isolation.
Jesus stressed relationships. Rabbis taught disciples, but did not live with them. Jesus stayed with His followers, daily modeling life for them.
We at Second want everyone to be in a group; some in the 70’s size bracket (LK 10:1), some in the 12’s. Some will meet in our building, some off site. Some will meet on Sunday mornings, some during the workweek.
We want groups with intentional leaders who are helping people take a next step to Christlikeness, teaching and training us to become worshipers (Holiness matters most.), ministers (Serve all, including our 18 Springfield partners), and missionaries (Lost people need to be included in every group.)
Our focus has to become them, the fish; not us, the fishermen. Instead of seeing a crowd as “Who will notice me?” the focus must be compassion, “Who needs my help? Who looks lonely? Whom can I share Jesus with?”
As we come behind Peter and Andrew on this life-journey to fulfill the Lord’s mission, let’s remember the most powerful weapon in our spiritual arsenal may be our house. The great Capernaum healing revival began with Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law at his house (MK 1:30ff).
Our author Matthew, upon his conversion to Christ, invited sinners to his house to meet Jesus (LK 5:29). When Jesus commissioned the seventy, He told them to enter, and stay in, houses (LK 10:5ff). Mary and Martha invited Jesus into their home (LK 10:38ff). Zaccheus invited Jesus to his house (LK 19:1ff). The earliest believers did their great work in the temple and in houses (AC 5:42). Cornelius invited family and friends to his house to hear Peter preach (AC 10:24). Time and space don’t permit a list of house churches, and homes where Paul stayed in his journeys. Suffice it to say, in the Church’s early days, we survived and thrived in the homes of believers.
Hospitality was huge. It is a waning practice in USA Christianity. We need to resuscitate it. Thabiti Anyabwile, Pastor at First Baptist Church Grand Caymen, convinced me of the importance of hospitality. He points to three factors discouraging us from showing hospitality in Christian homes.
One, desiring privacy. We don’t want to hassle with having people in our homes. We want our houses to be harbors, safe quiet places. Too many of us neglect the social aspect of our faith; we reduce Christianity to a one-on-one personal relationship with Jesus and little more. This is disallowed. The second command, to love our neighbor as ourself, requires relationships.
Two, fearing people’s reactions. They may not come if asked, may think us strange to have invited them, or may think our house is a mess. In our culture, it is easy to be stricken with a showcase mentality. We need to move past this. Glenda Scott, one of our church members who has the gift of hospitality, long ago gave me a slogan to remember, hospitality before pride.
Three, passivity. We’re nonchalant, unintentional, about cultivating meaningful relationships. We wait for them to come to us. Content with our current group, we would rather let relationships “click” than work hard at forming them. Jesus did not do this. In His day, students solicited Rabbis, but Jesus sought out His followers rather than wait for them to come to Him. We have to set aside time to form relationships; they will not occur quickly.
We have to be intentional, not accidental. We need laser beam focus. Moses prayed for God to spare the people, or to blot out his name (EX 32:32). Paul wished he were accursed to benefit his countrymen (RM 9:3).
John Knox said, “Give me Scotland or I die.” Wesley said the whole world was his parish. Praying Hyde landed and said, “Here let me burn out for God.” Amy Carmichael prayed, “Make me Thy fuel.” David Brainerd said, “Oh, that I were a flame of fire in my Master’s cause.” Henry Martyn, missionary to India and Persia, prayed he might “burn out for God,” and did.
MacArthur tells a story of Robert Murray McCheyne, one of my favorite heroes. I have been blessed for years by repeating his prayer, “Lord, make me as holy as a saved sinner can be.” One of my life’s most moving experiences was to voice that prayer aloud in McCheyne’s Scotland.
It was said of him, “Everywhere he stepped Scotland shook” (Courtland Myers). He was responsible for thousands coming to Jesus; all before he died at 29. How does a person have that much influence this young? Visitors who come to see the church where McCheyne was Pastor are shown a table, chair, and open Bible. They are then told he spent hours with his head buried in the Bible, weeping for those he would preach to.
What McCheyne did with his Bible, I wish we would do with a laser beam focus on our living room couches, weeping for those who might be saved in that very room. We have to create relaxed settings where we regularly connect with unbelievers. Our homes are made to order for this.
We have to be around the lost in order to effectively deal with them. Fishermen know and understand the ways of fish by fishing. Fishers of people have to know and understand the ways of the lost by fishing, by being with them. Our homes can provide for the lost a place where they can safely ask hard questions. We often fear these situations, we feel inadequate, but need to remember the three magic words, “I don’t know.” This phrase is our friend. It disarms the objection unbelievers often have that believers claim to be know-it-alls. Whatever they ask, you can find the answer later.
We tend to stress too much over winning the lost. We are to fulfill the promise made to Abraham that he would bless the world. A “convert them” mentality will cause “me versus them” thinking; they will be targets we approach with ulterior motives. Surprise them with kindness. Be like no other Christian they have ever met. They’re used to being condemned before listened to. Have fun watching their attitudes change, and their hearts open.