Being Called for What

John 1:43-51

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him,“Follow me.”

44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law,and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.

“Come and see,” said Philip.

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

Dear Friends in Christ,

If somebody told you, “follow me” what would be your first thoughts?  My guess is you would be a little unsure of what that person is asking of you.  You would probably have a few questions to ask that person before you follow them.  If you’re like me you would want to know, where you’re going, what you’re doing, and why should I follow you.  I just like to know what I’m getting myself into when somebody asks a question like that.

In our text for today, we read about Jesus calling His disciples.  If you notice Jesus isn’t asking them a question when He says, “follow me.”  He doesn’t say, “follow me?”  Instead He gives the imperative, “follow me.”  What does Philip do?  He goes and tells Nathanael that He has found the one that Moses and the prophets wrote about.  Philip has no reservations about what Jesus is calling Him to do.  We don’t read about Him playing 20 questions with Jesus to see what following Him exactly entails.  On the other hand Nathanael kind of scoffs at the idea that something good would come out of Nazareth.  In their initial encounter with this idea of following Jesus we see a contrast between Philip and Nathanael.  Philip is eager and ready to go, while Nathanael isn’t sure.  That all changes as Jesus reveals His divine knowledge about who Nathanael was.  None of the disciple ultimately knew what Jesus was calling them to do.  In the end they all gave up the life they knew and did exactly what Jesus said to do, “follow me.”  My question to you is what part of your life is Jesus calling you to follow Him.  Is He calling you to follow Him through a difficult time in your life?  Is He calling you to share your faith with someone and be a witness?

I doubt the disciples realized what difficulty was ahead of them when they decided to follow Jesus.  They didn’t know that they would be persecuted.  They didn’t know the hardships that they would face.  But all of this was part of their calling.  Just as the disciples didn’t know what hardships were ahead of them you and me don’t know what lies ahead of us.  We don’t know the difficulties and the struggles that we will one-day face.  In those moments when hear words such as, “It’s cancer,” “It’s terminal,” “I don’t love you anymore,” or “I’m sorry we did all that we could but it wasn’t enough.”  Words like those have a sting and leave an impact in our lives.  In the midst of the sting of those words we are left in a daze looking for answers.  Just wondering what happened.  We might even start to wonder where God is.

I can tell you exactly where He is.  He is right by your side.  He will never leave your side.  David writes in Psalm 34, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  That sentiment is repeated in Psalm 147, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  God is by our side healing our pain both physically and emotionally.  When we follow Him we can rest assured that He is near to us helping to heal our broken hearts.

As we experience those things we follow Him to the cross.  It is on the cross where we see God’s healing.  There was a healing from the curse of sin.  Sin, which fractured our relationship with God was healed by the blood of Christ.  It’s on the cross we are reminded of God’s love.  We see God’s love as His Son gave it His all so we would be forgiven.  Not only on the cross do we see sin defeated but we also see death defeated.  No matter what we are going through when we follow Christ to the cross we are reminded of the life that awaits us in heaven.  A life that we can’t even imagine what it will be like.  All I can say is it will be perfect.

Not only did the disciples endure difficulties in their life they proclaimed the Gospel message to the people around them.  That wasn’t always an easy thing to do.  They were thrown into prison because of what they preached, they were beaten, and ultimately all but one died a martyred death because of listening to Jesus’ call and following Him.  Why did they do this?  They went throughout the world spreading the Gospel message because they knew the difference that it would make.  Is God calling you to follow Him to share the Gospel message with a family member, friend, neighbor, co-worker, and maybe somebody you meet in a store.

Sharing your faith with someone can at times be a lot easier said then done.  The devil tries many different ways in which he tries to get us to keep our mouth’s shut.  One of the biggest ways that he tries to do that is by discouragement and fear.  When the exiles returned and were beginning to rebuild the temple the devil used the local people at that time to discourage the people and put fear into them.  It says in Ezra 4, “Then the local residents tried to discourage and frighten the people of Judah to keep them from their work.”  The exiles work was different than ours but the tactics of the devil remains the same.  To me the biggest way the devil tries to discourage us in sharing the gospel is by saying we aren’t making a difference.  He likes to play the number game.  He puts it in our mind that it’s not a big deal if we share our faith with one person, and that there is no point to share it with one person.  Or he tells us we did a poor job because we only shared it with one person.  I came across a story to prove how important it is to share our faith even if it’s just with one person.

Years ago the Walther League Messenger told a story about an aged minister who was informed by one of his deacons that there was something radically wrong with his preaching because only one person had been added to the church in a whole year, and that person was only a boy.  But was his service in vain?  Years later, when the minister had already gone to his heavenly reward, that one boy, now a man, returned to London from Africa as a missionary whom the entire nation revered.  Not only had he brought to Jesus one of the most savage African chiefs, but he had also translated the Bible into African dialects, so that the Word of God might become known to them.

What a powerful example of how even sharing our faith with one person can make a world of difference.  Who knows if the person you share the gospel message with may serve and reach many more people.  You never know what difference it will make in that person’s life and who they will then influence.

When we talk to others about our faith it might makes us paralyzed with fear.  I can completely understand that.  You don’t know how that person is going to react or what they might think of you.  Or maybe you don’t feel like your qualified enough to share the Gospel message.  There is no reason to be afraid, as Jesus told the disciples at the end of The Great Commission, “I am surely with you even to the very end of the age.”  Christ is with us so we have no need to fear others reactions or the view they might have of us.  God’s view of us is the only way that matters.  And He sees us as His precious blood brought children.  And I think all of us here are qualified to share the Gospel message.  We know what Christ accomplished on the cross.  We also know how we have been strengthened in our life because of our faith.  It’s that simple.

As we think about sharing the Gospel and our faith with others, I want to share with you one of the things I heard at the Passion Conference two weeks ago that I think is a great idea.  Carl Lentz who is the pastor at Hillsong in New York City said that we should get rid of the words “almost” and “someday” from our vocabulary.  Think about it do you want to look back at your life and say, “Well, I almost shared about what Christ did for me to a person who needed to hear it.”  None of us want to look back in our life and say that, instead we would rather say, “I’m so happy that I took the time to share what Christ did for me with that person who really needed to hear it.”  And we don’t want to fall into the trap of saying, “Someday I’m going to share my faith with that person who doesn’t know about Christ.”  If we do that we might never get the chance to share, and there is the chance of regretting putting it off.  The Gospel Message of Christ is powerful.  And maybe God is calling you to follow Him and share the message with somebody who is in desperate need of it.

What is God calling You to follow Him to do?  Only you know the answer to the question.  But as you think about that my prayer is that you answer the call the same way Samuel did when he said, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.”  Because that’s exactly who we are servants of God.  He may be calling you to trust Him as you are experiencing a storm in your life.  And let’s face there is nobody better to trust than God, He always comes through on His promises.  Or maybe God is calling you to be a witness to someone in your life.  No matter how intimidating that may sound to you, He will never leave as you share.  And you never know what difference you might make in someone’s life.  God’s is calling each of us to follow Him, and we can find comfort that as He calls us, He never will leave us.