Presentation on theme: "Presentation 03. Introduction My mother was the dressmaker for the family. She often said, “I wont get into difficulty as long as I follow the pattern”."— Presentation transcript:
Introduction My mother was the dressmaker for the family. She often said, “I wont get into difficulty as long as I follow the pattern”. That is true in every sphere of life and particularly true of the Christian life where we are exhorted to, “walk in his [Jesus’]steps” 1 Pet.2v21. At the very outset of his public ministry Jesus did something, which established a pattern for the church to follow. He made two things abundantly clear. 1. The nature of his task. It was to return men to a right relationship with God. 2. The manner of its accomplishment. By calling and equipping very ordinary folk to work at his side.
Presentation 03 The Nature Of The Task Jesus’ task is sometimes described in scripture as looking for lost sheep but here it is described as 'fishing for men'. What kind of picture does that conjure up in your mind? When a fisherman catches a fish, he brings it from one sphere of existence to another, from one environment to another, from one condition to another. Jesus was not vague about the purpose of his mission. He had a very specific goal in mind. He was out to catch men. Not in order to manipulate them or, exploit them. Not to harm them or, to profit from them. He was out to catch men in order to deliver them from a polluted environment and its consequences
Presentation 03 The Nature Of The Task Let me try and illustrate. As a child I was told to keep away from the River Clyde which was just a few hundred yards from my home. It was dangerous not only because it was a tidal river but because of all the pollution which was discharged into it by local factories. It was not uncommon to see dead bloated fish floating on the surface. They'd left the pure water upstream and come down to swim around in the murky depths of our contaminated water. They lived in atmosphere of death which eventually overwhelmed them.
Presentation 03 The Nature Of The Task Man also lives in a world that is both physically polluted and spiritually contaminated. Spiritual darkness abounds. Men and women are being choked to death by the effluent of sin, which is not only discharged around them but which they find discharging from their own hearts. They are set on a path of self-destruction. Jesus as chief fisherman, came to deliver us from that plight and to transfer us from one environment into another, from death to life. He came to deal with these hearts which by nature constantly discharge the effluent of sin. Here then is the reason behind Jesus' clearly stated aim- that of catching men. He wants to deliver them from the power, pollution and punishment of sin.
Presentation 03 The Manner Of Its Achievement Jesus knew how he intended to achieve his task. He would use very ordinary men to bring others to himself. There is a very real element of surprise in this call. Jesus did not hold his recruiting drive in the courtyards of Jerusalem university or the temple precincts. He did not demand a Ph.D. in theology. Instead, he went to the fish markets and called those who had responded to John's ministry of repentance. God delights to use ordinary people. Why? When things are accomplished through them, people don't say ‘What great men you are’ but ‘What a great God you follow’. Don't ever begin to think, 'God could never use someone like me, I am too ordinary’. God delights in ordinariness.
Presentation 03 Jesus called fishermen and his call to them was clothed in language that they understood, 'Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men'. Words that indicated there would be an element of continuity between their old life and their new one, between their natural gifts and their spiritual calling. They would channel their old fishing skills into their new calling as fishers of men. Courage, patience, perseverance and even the fisherman's ability to face monotony would all be put to good use. Note that the God of nature is also the God of grace and as we discover God's plan for our lives then our natural gifts and abilities will be employed as well as the super- added spiritual gifts brought by God’s Spirit. The Manner Of Its Achievement
Presentation 03 The call of Jesus also introduces an element of discontinuity between the old, and the new life of discipleship to which they were called. They would be catching men and not fish. There's a world of difference between men and fish – despite what evolutionists attempt to teach! The glory of man lies in the fact that he has been made in the image of God. It is this which makes being a fisher of men an office of immense privilege. These fishermen were called to engage in the most glorious profession and privilege of all - winning others for Jesus. Their unparalleled calling remains the calling of the church. The Manner Of Its Achievement
Presentation 03 Sadly many churches have become keeper of aquariums rather than fishers of men. It is simpler to feed the fish already in the tank than to engage in creative outreach that wins others for Christ. There are millions of people swimming aimlessly around in a polluted sea, dying by degrees. They have never heard of God's kingdom. Of course calling involves training. Jesus words are quite literally, "Come follow me and I will make you to become fishers of men". It takes time to become a fisher of men. We need to be trained to be that and the training begins as we follow Jesus. The Manner Of Its Achievement
Presentation 03 The Necessity Of Training The training process would last the length of Jesus’ public ministry and it would be very specialised. Don't think that this task required only the minimum of training or commitment. Luke uses a very interesting term to describe the call of the disciples to be fishers of men. It means literally, 'taking men alive'. The mark of a successful 'fisher of men' would be that he would take fish alive. In Jesus’ day fish were caught either using a hook and line or a net. If you used a hook and line you could easily damage or kill the fish. The hooks cut into their throats, jaws and stomachs.
Presentation 03 The Necessity Of Training But the net brought the fish in alive and without damage. Luke's term reminds us that methods are important. Some methods of winning men can be harmful. Personalities can be damaged. Men can be bullied and psychologically manipulated. Some fishing methods scar the souls of the men they purport to help but rob God of the glory which is his due. Jesus is interested in saving lives not in counting scalps. He wants to net lives for his glory, whole lives with hearts minds and consciences intact. He wants man to be able to serve God with all that he is and all that he can be. Therefore the methods which we use will always be of great importance.
Presentation 03 The Necessity Of Training Jesus call was specific. He said, 'follow me.' During the Renaissance when the great masters took on apprentices, they didn't give them a box of paints, brushes or canvass. Not even some paper and a stick of charcoal. Instead, they gave them a stool. The apprentice sat at his master's feet and watched him at work. By spending time with him, absorbing his style and capacity to mix colour, they eventually became little masters. When they produced their own work others could say with confidence this painting definitely came out of the school of Leonardo, Botticelli, or Michelangelo.
Presentation 03 The Necessity Of Training Following Jesus means, sitting at his feet and learning from him. If we are to be useful in his service we must spend time with him in reading and in prayer. As we do so, we will grasp his immeasurable compassion for the lost, even for those who turn their back upon him. We will sense the tenderness of his appeal to men and women who are lost especially when speaking of the awful reality of judgement. As we sit as Jesus’ feet we will learn to shed tears for the careless and indifferent. This exposure to Jesus moulds us into fishers of men and in Luther’s words makes us 'little Christ's to our neighbours'. Are we prepared to sit on that stool and learn?
Presentation 03 The Necessity Of Training We must do more than sit on stool. Following Jesus for the disciples meant separating themselves from every impediment and in their case that meant their job. Following Jesus involves obeying his commands. This is basic to being a Christian. Christian character and service are the two sides of the same coin. As we allow Jesus to change our characters we become more effective in Christian service. It is wrong to think, "I may be impatient, selfish, proud and a gossip but that does not matter because I am involved in Christian service, I speak to people in the streets, and bring them to church!" Jesus recognised that it is what we are, that gives significance and fruitfulness to what we do.
Presentation 03 The Necessity Of Training Robert M McCheyne was one of the most holy and fruitful ministers in the Church of Scotland in the C19th. He wrote to encourage a young man who was standing on the threshold of his Christian service with these words; 'It is not great gifts God blesses but great likeness to Jesus’. Do you believe that? Do you long to be useful and fruitful in the service of Christ's kingdom? Then make great likeness to Jesus your aim and ask God to do his transforming work in your life.
Presentation 03 Conclusion The disciples immediately responded to Jesus’ call. There was no hesitation! They did not argue that they were unqualified or unworthy, though both were true. How seriously do we take Jesus call to be fishers of men? Do we organise our lives in such a way that our great priority is to gather in the lost from a polluted world? Or, are we out of step with Jesus whose call is clear and winsome? Despite any reservations these men may have had they believed that Jesus could be trusted to change their lives. Do we share that confidence as Jesus speaks through his Word and points to a world of men suffocating in the pollution of their sin saying, "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men"?