Sermon Outline (Youth)
United in Peace, for the World, We Are Called to Be Disciples Who Make Disciples
Text: Matthew 4:19-20
“And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him” (Matthew 4:19-20).
Prepare in advance: Four clear drinking glasses and a pitcher of water; possibly a bowl or basin to catch the overflow water if that is a concern.
Hold up one empty cup in one hand and the pitcher of water in the other hand.
Let’s imagine this cup is your life starting Monday morning. You wake up for another week of school, and you are…
- somewhat rested from the weekend (pour some water in the cup)
- sort of done with your homework (pour some water in the cup)
- kind of ready for an upcoming exam (pour some water in the cup)
- looking forward to seeing some friends (pour some water in the cup)
- and pumped for some of your favorite activities that are coming up this week (pour some water in the cup)
Cup should be about three-quarters full by the time you are done with this portion.
So you dive into your week, not totally full (hold up cup), but hopefully with enough to make it through.
- Your first class is math. You turn in your homework that took you forever to finish, but then you find out that was supposedly the easy stuff and this week you’re moving on to harder material. Your teacher suggests that you’ll need up to two hours a night to keep up. (Dip your hand in the cup and splash out some of the water.)
- Your history exam on Tuesday seems to target all the dates you were shaky on and barely hit any of the material you really knew. (Dip your hand in the cup and splash out some of the water.)
- On Wednesday there’s a huge fight between two of your friends, and you are caught in the middle. As you try to help them work it out, they both end up mad at you. (Dip your hand in the cup and splash out some of the water—as you progress, you can increase the amount and consider splashing it at students.)
- You go to cross-country practice ready to run off some steam, but you end up twisting your bad ankle during the first mile and have to go to the trainer instead. (Dip your hand in the cup and splash out some of the water.)
- When you go home, your parents can tell you’re a bit down. You don’t want to talk about it, but they keep pressing and you end up in a big fight. You basically let out all your anger and frustration about the whole week on them and then head to your room, exhausted (toss out the rest of the water). You’ve got nothing left. And the sad thing is it’s only Wednesday!
Have you ever had week like that? Or maybe that’s how you feel your whole life is. You try to try to keep up with school, friends, family, activities, but the more you pour out into each of these things, the less filled up you feel. Maybe you’re at the point of running on empty. That’s a hard place to be.
What We Can Learn from Peter
Now I’ve gotta be honest, sometimes I wonder if Bible really addresses the stresses we go through. After all, there are a lot of differences between our situations and the ones we see in the Bible.
Yet we see some similarities, such as in Peter’s life. Peter worked with his brother Andrew. Maybe they got along overall, but like any siblings they probably fought and annoyed each other at times. And even though Peter didn’t have homework and tests to worry about, he did have his own daily stress. Number one on that list: catching fish.
The first time we meet Peter he has just pulled an all-nighter trying to catch any fish at all, but he’d come up empty. So he probably wasn’t in the greatest mood when Jesus showed up. Peter and Andrew were casting one last net, perhaps hoping that this one would catch something when Jesus called out to them, “Hey, come follow me and I will send you out to fish for people” (Matthew 4:19).
They might have wondered what Jesus was doing. Couldn’t he see that they were busy? Why was he bothering them? They have enough troubles just trying to catch fish—now he wants them to drop everything and go do something that just sounds weird?
Maybe that’s how church feels sometimes to you. You’ve already got a ton on your plate and you’re pouring out everything you have. But whether it’s your parents who push you or your own faith that motivates you, you have to find some way to squeeze in time to come to church and youth group, pray and read the Bible, and even try to get your friends to join you. Sometimes it’s just too much. Why doesn’t Jesus get that?
Well, thankfully, I’m pretty sure he does.
What We Can Learn from Luke
Luke’s version of the story adds more detail, which helps it all make more sense. In Luke 5:1-11 we see that Peter and Andrew were fishing near where Jesus was teaching a crowd of people. Jesus first asked if he could teach from their boat, and they said yes.
In Luke’s version we get a much better sense of who Jesus is. After his sermon, Jesus starts out by meeting Peter right where he was. He invites him to cast his nets one more time—and that gets Peter’s attention.
When Peter and Andrew haul in so much fish that their nets rip, Peter is terrified. He knows Jesus must be divine in some way, and he knows he’s a sinner. He can’t believe God could possibly be pleased with him.
But that’s where Jesus’s invitation in Matthew is so awesome. Instead of condemning Peter for all his failures and shortcomings and weaknesses, Jesus says in effect, “Chill out, man, and let’s hang out! I’d like to give your life a whole new meaning and purpose!” (Matthew 4:19).
Okay, so that’s not quite the real translation.
Rather than a “have to,” Jesus’s invitation to Peter and his brother is really a “get to.” Jesus isn’t piling on another thing that Peter has to do—Jesus is inviting him to something amazing.
“I Will Give You Rest”
Read Matthew 11:28-30.
“Come follow me” is really an invitation to rest in Jesus. It’s an invitation to stop searching desperately for ways to keep filling your own cup, but to trust that Jesus can lead you to something new and more full. Jesus can fill us up in a way that lasts not just until Wednesday but all the way through the week—every week.
It might sound scary to leave everything to become a disciple of Jesus like Peter. But could you be ready for a change? Whether you’ve been a Christian your whole life, or you’re new to this journey, or you’re still not sure Christianity is the thing for you at all, have you noticed how pretty much everything else we try to fill our lives with tends to comes up short? It doesn’t last.
Peter and the other disciples gave up everything to follow Jesus, but they received all kinds of rewards in return. Not only did they get to hang with Jesus, God’s Son, for three years, they got to help start the church. They got to be part of the greatest movement in all of history. They got to live lives that meant something, lives that mattered and were filled by God himself.
But that’s not all. Let’s go back to our cup for some help.
Put three cups in a triangle formation and set the original cup on top of them. Grab the pitcher.
One way to summarize Matthew 4:19 is to say that Jesus is inviting us to be disciples who make disciples. When we follow him, he will change our lives so powerfully that we’ll help others to follow him too!
As I follow Jesus, I start seeing all of life differently. Prior to letting go of all my selfish desires, I was too filled up with myself to see much of God. But when I start to trust Jesus, I begin seeing God in some deeply filling ways.
- Maybe it starts with creation. I slow down enough to marvel at a sunset, a tree, a flower, a lake, or a thunderstorm. (Pour some water in the cup.)
- Maybe I also start to see God in others. Other disciples show me love in ways I haven’t experienced before or just haven’t taken time to appreciate. (Pour some water in the cup.)
- Maybe that leads me to want to know more about God. So I talk to him through prayer. And I begin to learn there are so many ways to talk to and listen to God. (Pour some water in the cup.)
- As I’m trying to figure out how to talk to God more, I want to learn about others who knew God well. So I read my Bible—not as a “have to” but as a “get to.” I want to know God more and as I read, I am filled up by the rich truth and love I discover. (Pour some water in the cup.)
- And as I’m being filled up, I want to imitate Christ, the one who’s filling me, and I start to serve others. Maybe it’s kids younger than me. Or maybe it’s loving my friends or family differently. Or maybe it’s addressing some social justice issues that really concern me. (Fill the cup to overflowing and briefly let it pour into the other three cups.)
But rather than getting sucked dry by having to do all that stuff, I find that I am overflowing with what God is pouring into me and that spills out all around me.
- I’ve still got math homework and history exams. (Dip your hand in the top cup and splash out some water.)
- And I’ve got friend issues and maybe some family struggles that might exhaust me. (Dip your hand in the top cup and splash out some water.)
But my perspective is changed. I can start to see God in those areas and invite him to be with me through those challenges. With this new vision for my life, those stresses still matter, but I no longer need those things to fill me up. God’s got that covered. I am walking with him and he is walking with me. I follow his lead.
And as I follow him and really live my life differently because of Christ, he fills me in ways that overflow to others. God can use me to actually change someone else’s life. (Pour out the rest of the pitcher and overflow it to the other cups.)
Being a disciple who makes disciples isn’t just another thing that drains and empties your cup. Following Jesus and blessing others with the overflow love that he pours into us is an amazing gift. It gives life meaning and purpose. Peter and the other disciples were so transformed by being with Jesus that they were willing to die for their faith so that others could know the blessings of following Christ too.
Wherever you are in your faith journey, what is the next step God might be inviting you to take in being a disciple who makes disciples? What might it look for you to be filled by God in ways that overflow to others?
Here are three possibilities.
- Look for God everywhere. If we are following God, we have to notice his presence. So look for God, not just in big moments or at church but in the little stuff. Look for God in the beauty of nature, in a great conversation with a friend, in the way your parents care for you. Look for God in the opportunities you have in your life. Any time you recognize one of the bajillion gifts God gives you each day, say thank you! Thank him for the chance to follow him and see the world in a whole new way.
- Talk to God about everything. It’s great to pray at meals and it’s probably okay to pray when you need a miracle on a test you don’t feel ready for. But what if we take that to another level? What if we tell God what’s bothering us and ask God for help with the difficult relationships in our life? We can feel free to get angry about stuff and let God know that—even if we’re mad at him. Peter and many other followers of Christ often let God have it when they were confused or frustrated. God can take it.
- Believe what God says about his followers. The Bible is full of so many encouragements about who we get to be as followers of Christ. Check out this list (if possible print it out for your students or at least project it on a screen). As disciples of Christ you are:
- Saved forever
- Dearly loved
- Servants of the Most High God
- New creatures
- Dead to sin
- Alive to God
- Walking in the newness of life
- The temple of the Holy Spirit
- Clothed with Christ
- At peace with God
- Born again
- Children of God
- Empowered by God
- One in him
- The body of Christ
- Seated in heaven
- Kingdom citizens
- A royal priesthood
- Vessels of honor
- Salt of the earth
- Light of the world
- Full of the Holy Spirit
- Ministers of reconciliation
- More than conquerors
Friends, you may have come here today feeling stressed out, empty, and failing. But that’s not God’s vision for you at all. He invites us to follow him and become all the things on this list. When we receive and respond to that invitation, we leave our old life behind and join a new adventure. We leave behind our stressed out, empty self and accept God’s invitation to be a dearly loved, chosen, child of God, ambassador who lights up the world for Christ! That’s what being a disciple who makes disciples is all about.