the one about God choosing you...
January 27, 2020, 8:00 AM

Sermon from January 26, 2020

Text: Matthew 4:12-29

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, have you ever done anything on the spur of the moment? Just had an idea and decided to act on it? Whenever we think about ‘spur of the moment’ decisions, typically they are centered on ourselves. We decide – on a whim – to take a trip; to ask that person we like out on a date; to buy that thing we’ve been thinking about; to repaint entire rooms in our homes.

I’d imagine that happens to a lot of us, right? That’s typically how we view ‘spur of the moment’ decisions. Things that make us feel good.

This morning, as we read our gospel from Matthew, we see quite a different ‘spur of the moment’ decision being made. Jesus approaches two pairs of brothers and offers them a chance at a new and different sort of life. A life and opportunity to follow him.

Now, even though this is the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, I’d like to think that word about this interesting and peculiar guy had been spreading around Galilee. Perhaps they heard what happened on the River Jordan with John. They might have heard Jesus preach and speak to small groups of people. Anyone who lives in a small town knows – news travels a lot faster than you could ever possibly think. And just because at this time they didn’t have phones and social media, didn’t mean news didn’t travel any less slow.

People had heard of this teacher, they had heard of his message of the kingdom of heaven come near. Naturally, people talked about it.

I wonder how much Peter and Andrew and James and John of Zebedee had heard about him. They were fishers of course. I’d imagine long talks were held during those hours of waiting for the nets to get full. Surely, word had spread to them as well.

And, whether the message and deeds of Jesus had reached those two pairs of brothers, when the Lord spoke to each of them – they responded. Immediately.

They dropped their nets and they followed him. James and John even left their father in the boat.

What is so interesting about this encounter with Jesus, is that this might be the only time that men in our scripture took a call from the Holy and didn’t stammer and stutter about it.

There is example after example of when God approaches people to lead a new and different type of life, where there are always excuses that are mentioned. Moses argued no one would listen to him because he stuttered, Jeremiah balked because he felt he was too young, Gideon felt he wasn’t worthy enough because he was from the weakest clan of Manasseh, Jonah just didn’t want to do it, so ran in the other direction.

Yet, for whatever reason the disciples are different. They hear Jesus speak to them and they immediately stop what they’re doing and leave their ‘old’ life behind.

I’d be willing to bet, that more of us are like the prophets of old, than we are like the disciples in this moment. How many of us have dropped everything to follow a new life? Leaving everything behind, stopping all that we know, leaving with what’s on our back and following another?

I know I haven’t done that. In fact, before discerning God’s call to ministry, I felt there was no way I could do this. I wasn’t smart enough. I wasn’t spiritual enough. I didn’t speak good enough. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t enough to do what God was calling me towards.

I read a funny little picture on the internet the other day that I think sums up that thought pretty well. It said something to the account of, “When God called you – God already took in account your ‘stupidity/limits’ and called you anyways.”

Perhaps more than anything, that is what Peter, Andrew, James, and John took in the most to their hearts. They were fishermen. They weren’t extraordinary. In fact, I’d be willing to bet to those around them they were less than ordinary. Fishermen aren’t typically seen as the ‘cream of the crop.’ Not then, and probably not today.

It’s a hard job. It’s a smelly job. I’m not sure you necessarily take that job willingly and excitedly. You do it out of necessity. You do it because you have no other choice.

Yet, that is who Jesus approached first. The ones no one would expect. He didn’t reach out to scholars or deep thinkers. He looked to the ones who others thought might have been flawed or less than in some way. That’s who Jesus sought.

And those ‘flawed’ and ‘less than’ folks jumped at the chance to follow this One. They immediately left their nets and their families and walked behind and with the one who was rumored to be the One.

Their spur of the moment decision didn’t necessarily benefit them either. There weren’t riches at the other end. There wasn’t a deep sense of pride that emanated from their families and friends.

In fact, there was – more than likely – the opposite. I’d imagine those families chided these four and Jesus. How could they leave everything behind and follow that guy? He can’t be who they say he is because he chose four nobodies from nowhere. How ‘special’ can he be if he chose them?

God chose them. God continues to choose today. Jesus reached out to the ones no one expected to walk with him. Jesus spoke to the people who others would distance themselves from because of their job, their life, and probably literally in this story, their personal aroma.

God chose them despite others thinking it would be a bad decision. Wouldn’t get much back on his return. The investment in them wouldn’t be worth it.

And yet, these four were the beginning. From these four this message of eternal forgiveness, radical hospitality, limitless love, and daring faith has spread around the world. It is through the beginning of these four that the massive gathering of the faithful would follow.

Still, God calls today. Yes, God is still at work today. God continues to call, to convict, to pull, to push, to send out into the world those whom God deems good enough to proclaim the message that Jesus shares. That the kingdom of God is at hand. That the kingdom of heaven is near. That God is with you – that God is with us – now.

And who does God continue to call and send? Who does God deem good enough already? Each and every one of you. Truly, God does.

Where you and others might see flaws, brokenness, and imperfection – God sees you. God sees the one who can proclaim this love, this grace, this forgiveness. God sees the one who can live into the radical hospitality that Jesus continues to model today. God sees the one who can and does shine light on injustice in the world. God sees the one whose prayers move to action to bring about change in this world that God loves so much.

No matter if you are a bit hesitant like a reluctant prophet or pastor, no matter if you jump at the chance to follow this new and different life before you – God chooses and calls you.

God does. God has. God is. God will.

Live into the life that God has called for you and for the world. Know that God sees value and worth in you already. God can and does use you – just as he chose the disciples – to proclaim this love, this life, this new thing that God has done.

Those followers began with these four. That faith and hope that they had in Jesus continues to flow through us so that all and more might know of God’s redeeming and overflowing love for the world.

It won’t always be easy. There will be trials and tribulations. It more than likely won’t lead to riches or fame. It may seem unexpected. Yet, God calls us to proclaim this love to a world in desperate need to hear it. And when it becomes difficult and frustrating, God’s promise continues to linger with us. That promise given to the prophets, that promise given to the disciples, that promise given to the world – Immanuel. God is with us. Always. Amen.

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