Sermon for January 24, 2021

Epiphany 3 – January 24, 2021

Faith Lutheran Church

Isanti, MN

Grace to you all and peace from God our creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus. Amen.

It was a very important day when Jesus began to choose his disciples. It wasa mighty important day when walking along the sea of Galilee Jesus called these first four men to follow him. It was a big day in the history of the Christian church and of the whole world.

Today is still a big day for us. It is a big day for us because, through the Holy spirit, Jesus is still choosing his disciples. Every day and time when we gather and learn about the life and ministry, when we share the story–that is the time and space when Jesus is seeking out those who would heed his call and follow him.

On the basis of our gospel text for today, we are going to examine Jesus’ choosing and calling his friends and disciples. There are three things I we will be paying specific attention to: Who Jesus calls, how he calls them, and why he extends the call.

First, we engage with the who.

Notice who the four people Jesus calls are. They are simple folk. They are not from schools or colleges. They were not form the upper class elite in Jerusalem. The people living in Galilee were peasants who through their labors and taxation supported the wealthy people living in Jerusalem.

They themselves were not wealthy, but were simple fishermen. They were ordinary people, who worked in an ordinary occupation. It was as if Jesus said, “Give me twelve men who would fit in with a crowd at the implement store. If they will give themselves to me, they will change the world through me.”

It is still so today. Through the holy Spirit, Jesus can choose whom he will. He can choose those who have wealth and extensive education, the top 1 percent. But much more often he chooses the common person, the laborer, the average person to be his disciple, his follower. Jesus Chooses us. Jesus chooses us and seeks to work through us as we are.

Now, you might not think you are worthy of such a call. And if you think that, you are right!–You are on the right track. A saying I have heard goes “The Christian church is the only society in the world in which membership is based on the single qualification that the candidate shall be unworthy of membership.” What other group, society, organization, lodge or brotherhood has that kind of requirement?

You can join the church when you believe that you are unworthy to join. Then the person who has joined themselves to the church should never think so much of what they are, and rather of what Jesus can make them. Because Jesus will always call the common, the lowly, the downtrodden.

Notice also in our text what those who Jesus calls are doing. They were not simply waiting around, sitting passively in a religious service. They were working when Jesu called them. They were doing their daily chores. They were busy people that Jesus called to be his disciples. The same was tru for many of the prophets who were called by God.

The prophet Amos said, “I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was a herdsman and a gatherer of sycamore fruit, and the Lord took me as I followed the flock and said to me, “Go prophecy unto my people Israel.” Amos was in the middle of shepherding and God called him to another task.

Likewise, Jesus calls those who are already busy. It is the very people who feel their lives are so full of work, and family and friends that God is calling. Jesus calls those who are busy to still greater work.

So we recognize who Jesus calls as his disciples––the common person and the busy person. Surely he is calling you and I!

This leads us to ponder how Jesus chooses or calls his disciples.

Jesus spoke with authority to the disciples on the shore of the sea of Galilee. His call was not pleading or a question, but a summons- “follow me.” How much more astonishing then that this may have been the first time these future disciples heard Jesus voice? Yet, they knew what this call meant. It was a call to discipleship, a call that would necessarily be the center of their lives from that moment onward.

When Jesus called out to these four Men, immediately, without hesitation they followed him.

In this way, Jesus still calls all of us today. Jesus still calls us to forsake all that we have and all that we have known to follow him. For most of us this does not mean leaving our jobs like it did for the disciples, but rather means that we dedicate ourselves and our work to God and God’s glory. To follow Christ, to truly be his disciple may not mean to leave our father and mother like the disciples did. And yet for some people, it might mean these very things! It may mean a change of plans for the future. It may mean seeking out people, and places and relationships that foster the inbreaking of the dominion of God.

At the sea of Galilee, it was the voice of Jesus that was heard to say “follow me.” Today it is the inner voice, the inner urging of the Holy Spirit. None of us would even be here if it were not first for the call of the spirit.

We too easily forget the work of the Holy Spirit. We recognize the work of Chrst, but forget that the Holy Spirit is at all times active in our lives. Luther put it well in the small catechism where he wrote, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to him, but the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, even as it calls, gathers, and enlightens the whole Christian Church on earth.”

It is the Holy spirit that extends this call to us and brings us to Christ. That is how Jesus is still at work today. The call is just as real for you and I today and just as full of authority as the words “follow me” were to those fishermen by the lake.

And so now we have seen who Jesus calls as disciples–the common, busy person. We have learned how Jesus calls disciples–by words of authority and the leading of the spirit. We no turn to why Jesus calls disciples.

Surely, it is common to share that to all people that Jesus calls, he offers salvation and healing and restoration to. Jesus calls to all humanity because he wants to deliver us from the clutch of Satan and evil present in our world and in our lives. Jesus calls to us because he desires that we be free from the grasp of anything that might try to separate us from him and his love.

Jesus chooses his disciples with this gift of salvation in mind. But discipleship doesn’t come only with gift, but with a task. Jesus was preparing his disciples for the time when he would no longer be living among them on earth.

The disciples were not only to follow Jesus to learn, but were also called to do.  Jesus said to them, “I will make you fishers of men.” And this fishing they were called to was not to be done through violence, but through the sharing of God’s word. The call was the beginning of their Christian life. It was a call in which they would only gain for themselves by giving everything to others. They had the task of spreading the gospel to every corner of the earth.

And this is why Jesus Still chooses disciples. This is why Jesus is still sending the holy spirit upon our congregation TODAY–to give us missional vision-vision for what the world could be.

And this mission takes ambition. We can’t sit back and watch the world go by.  It is like when a flood comes by, and picks up all kinds of logs, and debris. There is only on direction that things can go—downstream. Nothing can go upstream unless it has life, unless it has energy and will to move. It takes strength to go against the tide of sin. It takes a definite intentionality to be about this task of going against the flow.

Some people have made this intention clear before. But it is easy to say “no” to the holy spirit as it works in your life.

When Jesus calls through the spirit, he says “Seek ye first the dominion of God.” This task that Jesus sets before us is difficult, but it is not impossible. It can be done.

Today is a big day. Jesus is calling his disciples. Jesus is calling you and me. Jesus is calling the common and busy pople. He is calling us through the Holy Spirit, to offer both gift and task.

The four disciples from our Gospel reading followed right away. They didn’t object, or hesitate–they just went. And while there may have been worry in their hearts, they still trusted Jesus’ call to them. A call to follow him. A call to spread the good news of the dominion of God.

As we worship together, nearly two thousand years after this encounter on a beach by the sea of Galilee it can be easy to separate that call from our own. Yet, we engage with the words and actions of Jesus as revealed to us through scripture, may we all be moved to receive this call. A call to follow Jesus, wherever that may lead. Amen.

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