Friday, October 5, 2012

Followers Not Fans

I know everyone breathlessly awaits my recitation of Pastor Ron Hindt's Sunday lessons. (Just kidding. One of you do...) Pastor Ron's sermon on Sunday, September 30, 2012 focused on the last part of Matthew 4 and how Jesus was seeking followers, not fans.

Matthew 4:12-25 King James Version (KJV)

12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;
13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:
14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;
16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.
22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.
25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.

Pastor's major point was that fans know all about Him, but don't know Him personally. We all know many people like that, and it requires a careful search of our own hearts to determine if we are followers or fans. A fan stands on the sidelines and cheers for Jesus. A follower gets in the game, gets to know Jesus by reading the Bible, by praying, by continually learning.

1) Outcast (12-17)
The land where Jesus settled was around the southern part of the Sea of Galilee. I've been there, and it is a beautiful place. I know that Jesus loved Jerusalem, but honestly if I have an option I'll take a small cottage on Galilee or somewhere along the Jordan River in the woods. The raw beauty of the area remains largely undisturbed today, and I wonder why. Only the city of Tiberias makes a major impact.
When we were there the water level was over twenty-five feet lower than normal. Since the Sea is the major source of water for all of Israel, this could become a problem.
The northern part of the Sea of Galilee is comprised of the areas of Zabulon and Nephthalim. These areas were considered lands of darkness because they were the portions most often attacked when Israel was invaded by foreign powers. Often, settlers from conquering nations would move in and inter-marry with the local people. Part of this area belonged to the Samaritans, the group of Jewish people claiming descent from Joseph and believing that they had the true, unaltered Abrahamic religion, which was corrupted into Judaism during the Babylonian exile. So when Jesus settled in Capernaum, home to Peter the Fisherman, he settled "next to darkness," thus fulfilling the prophecy.
Jesus preached the same message that John the Baptist preached and He preached it to everyone: Repent.

2) Outreach (18-22)
The Sea of Galilee is eight miles wide by thirteen miles long. There is high cliff (Mt. Arbel) on the west side where you can look down and see the entire Galilee area, including the Sea and Tiberias and (faintly) Capernaum to the south. When we stayed in Tiberias and the sun came up in the early morning, the sea was placid and looked like a lake of liquid gold, shining so brightly that I had to shade my eyes. Josephus says there were between two and three million people around the Sea and about 240 boats fishing there. Some people estimate that not many more than that live near the Sea today.
When Jesus called the fishermen, they left everything behind, even their livelihood. He was saying come spend time with me. That was how they qualified to become fishers of men - not seminary, not conferences, but time with Jesus. The new disciples left and followed him immediately, not a trivial thing to overlook. A fan would stand on the sidelines and see which team to root for before committing himself.
Pastor spoke some about John, chapter 6, where Jesus is starting his ministry at the Sea of Galilee and he had many fans, people who cheered Him on and would have tried to make Him king. Jesus said they came to Him because He fed them, but when He started talking about sacrifice "many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him." These disciples were fans; they stayed with Him when life was good, when He provided food and good tidings. They didn't want to stay with Him during the tough times coming or when they were confused by the message.

3) Outcome (23-25)
We finish the chapter noticing that Jesus did three things now in His ministry: Teaching, Preaching, and Healing. This is the correct priority. Many churches today focus on preaching, or healing, but that is in the wrong order.
Teaching has to come first.
I was fortunate Sunday that my youngest son came to Calvary with me. I wonder what he heard?


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