Sermon delivered January 27, 2001 by Jason Foster, Senior Ministerial Student, SAU

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV) unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Jesus' First Disciples

How many of you have ever received a call before? You know, someone has called you on the phone. For instance, you're sitting at home watching television and someone calls you. The phone rings and so you answer it. "Hello." The voice on the other end says, "Yes, hi, um. My name is David, David Koresh." "Yes sir?" I was just wondering if you, by any chance, would want to.. I mean.. I don't know what you are doing, if you just want to leave whatever you're doing, your home, your family and stuff, and come and be a part of my cult. You know, follow me."

Well, for those of you who don't know who David Koresh was, he was kind of a funny guy that thought he had some messiah-like qualities and he actually got a lot of people to follow him. They actually left everything they had, moved on down to Waco, Texas and they all lived together.

So, think for a moment. Do I really want to follow this guy? What am I thinking? NO! I don't want to follow this guy! You reply, "Mr. Koresh, I'm going to hang up now and I'll probably not be following you, ever. Okay? Right, 'bye." And you hang up.

It seems like a strange question for somebody to ask you, doesn't it? It's kind of weird, kind of kookie, but there was a time when that question was asked quite frequently. I remember hearing this first story like it was just yesterday. And there He is, one man walking alone, walking down the road. Nothing real special about Him. He doesn't look real spectacular. Nobody that you would just want to run to. But there is something, an air about Him. He walks with a purpose. It seems like this purpose is so important to Him that nothing else matters. It's interesting. He's nice. He's friendly. He's kind. He's strong and He's bold. And He's meek. All the things you want to be. I mean, He's muscular.

And there you are, standing there. And you can see Him as He walks down the dusty road. You are drawn to Him. Something about that aura around Him draws you to Him. And you run to meet Him. And you bow to your knees and you say, "Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

He replies to you, "Why do you call Me good? There is only One that is good. And that One is God." But He doesn't stop there. He continues on to answer your question about how to inherit eternal life. And He says, "You know the commandments: Don't commit adultery, you shouldn't steal, you shouldn't kill, you shouldn't bear false witness, you should honor your father and your mother."

With a smile on your face, you can reply to Him, "Yes, of course I know the commandments. I've been following those since I was little." Eternal life in my hand.

But then, Jesus, with His face full of love, says, "But you're missing one thing. One thing you lack. What you need to do is go home and sell everything that you have. You need to get all your goods and give them to the poor. And then your riches, the things you have stored up, they will be in heaven. And then you can take up your cross and come and follow Me."

And your face sinks. "Everything I have? Sell it? Give it to the poor? But I'm rich. I'm young. How can that be?" And sadly you must turn your face and your back on Jesus. And you must walk away because the price is just too great.

We all know the story of the rich young ruler well. But what if we were really there? What if we had responded to Jesus in that way? What if..! We can find this story in three places in the Bible: Matthew, Mark and Luke. This morning I want to invite you to Mark. Mark 10:17-31 is what I'd like to focus on. I think we have a picture of what is going on here in the discourse between the rich young ruler and Jesus.

If we look in verse 22, that ends where we left off. But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Mark 10:23-31: Then Jesus looked around and said unto His disciples, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!" And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again, and He said to them, "Children, how hard is it for those who trust in the riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for the camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

And they were greatly astonished. "No ruler, no leader? They couldn't believe what Jesus was saying. And so they whispered among themselves, "Who then can be saved?"

But Jesus, with compassion (see verse 21), looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God, all things are possible."

Then Peter began to say to Him, "See, we have left all and followed You."

So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time-- houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions--and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first."

It's a unique request. The request, "Follow Me." What does it mean when Christ extends that opportunity to someone? It's kind of interesting that Jesus answers this question with a bit of another question. The rich young ruler has asked, "How can I inherit eternal life?" And Jesus asks, "Follow Me. Follow Me." But the rich young ruler has turned away. Jesus had offered him eternal life if he would just leave all and follow.

Who else had Jesus invited in this way, to follow Him?

A group of fishermen were asked the same question. And again, I have a story that is found in three places: Matthew, Mark and Luke. Let's look at just one: Matthew 4.

Jesus had come into Galilee as was told in prophecy that He would come and preach there. What was He preaching? Verse 17: ... "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand."

Continuing on with verses 18-22, And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him.

They followed Christ. No questions asked. They just dropped it all. Just like that! The rich young ruler couldn't drop it all just like that.

Jesus extends this invitation again to someone different. Let's turn to Matthew 9:9. Jesus has been healing and preaching all day long and now He's left that. In verse 9, As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he arose and followed Him.

Again, unlike the rich young ruler, Matthew, dropping everything in a heart-beat follows Jesus.

One more example. John 1:43. The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, "Follow Me." We know from the rest of the story that Philip followed Jesus.

What does all this mean? Why have I presented these four episodes of calling people to follow Jesus? Who were these last three groups of people? They were Jesus' disciples. The invitation to follow Jesus is a request to become His disciple. Jesus had extended eternal life to the rich young ruler if he would just leave everything and follow. Or should I say, he should become Christ's disciple. Christ calls the disciples to follow Him. Why? To give them eternal life and save them . By becoming a disciple of Christ, salvation and the gift of eternal life is extended to all those that would follow.

It's interesting, though, Christ doesn't just ask you to follow Him and drop all your responsibilities and have nothing to do. Christ wants you to have responsibility. And to find that responsibility let's look back in Matthew 4:19. Jesus says, "You had some responsibility, well here is the responsibility I want to give you. And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." He says, "Hey, you fishermen, I want you. I want you to leave the responsibilities you have now and I want to give a new responsibility. You will no longer be fishers of fish, you will be fishers of men. And as fishers of men, I want you to extend that same offer to all. Give everyone the opportunity to follow Me. Give everyone the opportunity to be My disciple. Open to everyone the gift of eternal life.

This is what Jesus called His disciples for. And this is what Jesus called the rich young ruler for. But He couldn't leave the trust that he had and the things that belonged to him. Like we read in Mark 10:24, The riches of the world, the trust in the riches of the world made him turn away from eternal life and being a disciple of Christ.

My original question to you was: Have you ever been called? The answer is, "Yes." But called to follow David Koresh? Why not? He has the same appeal as Jesus, it seems like. It seems like he calls. He says, "Drop everything and follow me," just as Jesus did.

I have a friend I've been talking to recently. He doesn't know whether it's important to him or not to follow Jesus. He doesn't know why. He should. Frankly, I sometimes don't know why, either. Why would James and John follow Jesus, leave a successful business, the sons of Zebedee, and just drop it and go? Successful men and women dropping everything. They followed David Koresh.

A teacher in one of my classes gave a quote one time: "When people ask, "Why is it that you follow God?" He said, "Only if you knew my Jesus." There is just something about the sweet name of Jesus that beckons us. So the answer is "Yes, you've been called." But not to David Koresh. Not to any other human being. Not to your possessions. You are called to follow Jesus Christ, along with the other disciples, to be disciples, to inherit eternal life, to take on a new responsibility of fishing for men and offering them that same opportunity.

Some of might be saying right now, "But me? I'm just a child." And some of you might be saying right now, "Me? I'm just and adult." and some of you might be saying, "I'm a doctor, I'm a business man, I'm a lawyer. Me? I'm a Pathfinder. I'm a deacon. I'm an elder. I'm not qualified." Who said anything about "qualified?" Christ called fishermen to follow Him. Christ called tax-collectors to follow Him. And why? Because Christ calls anyone who is willing to drop everything and follow Him.

Something we that need to remember, it's one of the best things I've ever heard, is that Christ doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. And we are all called because He is strong you your weakness, He is truth in your error, He is boldness when you are shy, He is qualified when you are unqualified. Friends, this is your wake-up call because you are called. Called to follow, called to fish and called to find others who will join you in eternal life. You are called to be a disciple of Christ. It is my prayer that you will become a disciple of Christ.

But I don't want you to just say it. In your mind you think, "Yes, I want to become a disciple of Christ." I want you to make me a promise that every day, at least once a day, you will ask God to help you be a great disciple for Him. And how? By expressing Jesus to at least one other person daily, whether they know Christ or not. If they know Christ, wonderful! Fellowship with them. Fellowship your relationship with God with someone else who is claiming discipleship.

As disciples, Christ wants us to make other disciples.

This is your call. Become a disciple of Christ.

Hymn of Praise: #537, He Leadeth Me
Scripture: Mark 1:16-20
Hymn of Response: #574, O Master, Let Me Walk With

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