“When God bids
a man, He bids him ‘come and die’.” And Bonhoeffer did. He came; and he died.
He recognized the hold of God over him as a disciple. There really is no other
legitimate way to respond to God. We must recognize His hold over us. God’s
call comes with consequences.
It’s not clear
in our text (Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26) if Matthew fully understood what he was
getting into. But it became clearer the longer he stayed with Jesus. In the
ensuing conversations and events the consequences became crystal clear.
of following Jesus…
is to be pressed
out of our comfort zone, relationally. Soon we find ourselves with all those
“undesirable” folks. It’s hard for the Pharisee in us to think God cares about
those “tax collectors and sinners,” but eventually we learn He does.
A few years back,
when AIDS was more fearsome than today, I watched a man share his testimony
in a room full of aspiring ministers. As the story unfolded of bi-sexual behavior,
infection, and repentance, you could see the visible attempts to move as far
back in their seats as possible. But not all-at the break, several came and
embraced our guest and welcomed him to our class. These men and women knew
the calling of Jesus.
said, the church is not a sanctuary for saints but a hospital for sinners.
My friend and fellow-preacher wants to know, “why do we have to waste so much
time ‘hand-holding’ the saints?” It’s because we haven’t been close enough
to Jesus to hear His call. His call presses us out of our comfort zone. He
changes the nature of our relationships. He changes the addresses in our guest
Jesus models for
us a life of ministry. Interrupted at the banquet and interrupted on the journey,
He models that life is lived for others, not for self. We are here to offer
what God has given us, no matter how inconvenient that happens to be.
of following Jesus …
is to be pressed
out of our comfortable plans, professionally. The next thing we know, Jesus
is calling us to consider the real focus of our lives. Are we doing what He
wants or what we want?
James Earl Massey
calls it the Burdensome Joy of Preaching. He describes
the actual call in his book of the same name. He heard the voice of God as
a teenager sitting in worship studying a waltz by Chopin. He heard God call,
“I want you to preach.” Massey was headed to Julliard’s to study music. But,
instead, he responded to God’s call and became one of America’s greatest preachers
and teachers of preaching.
God doesn’t change
all our careers, He merely changes our professions. Where once we professed
to be a lawyer who happened to be a Christian, we now profess to be a Christian
who happens to be a lawyer. The difference may sound subtle, but it’s profound
in its implication. Eventually our career does nothing more than make our calling
of following Jesus …
is to spend time
with Him, personally. We can’t follow Him if we don’t spend time with Him.
When Jesus responded to the request of the ruler to heal his daughter, “Jesus
got up and went . . . and so did His disciples.” While they may not have known
where they were going, they were privileged to go with Jesus, wherever that
In Matthew’s gospel
we see the disciples with Jesus, learning to pray (sermon on the mount), learning
to listen (mount of transfiguration), learning to mourn (garden of Gethsemane),
learning to obey (mount Calvary). Then, when He’s ready to depart, they are
ready to go (great commission).
When we spend
time with Jesus, learning what life is supposed to be like, it prepares us for
the greatest consequence of being with Him, that of going for Him.
God’s call is consistent;
His call always comes with consequences. Abraham heard a call
that included purpose (be a blessing) and promise (be blessed) (Gen. 12:1-9).
His call story was repeated in the New Testament (Romans 4:13-25) with purpose
(righteousness) and promise (offspring). His call comes to us with purpose
(go for me) and promise (I will be with you).
Sermon brief provided by: Chuck Sackett, professor of preaching at Lincoln
Christian Seminary in Lincoln, IL; and David N. Mosser, Pastor of First United
Methodist Church in Arlington, TX.