Sermon Outline (Adult)
United in Peace, for the World, We Are Called to Be Disciples Who Make Disciples
“Jesus called out to them, ‘Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!’ And they left their nets at once and followed him.”
We are called to both follow Jesus and to help others follow him, and to do this together as a community. Throughout the Gospels we discover how diverse the group of early disciples was—from tax collectors to Zealots! This calling to follow Jesus together so that we may help others follow Jesus extends to the church today. We are called to unite in peace for the sake of the world to mobilize a multiethnic movement of disciples who make disciples across all ages.
“Nowhere in Bible does Jesus call us to worship him, he calls us to follow and to obey him. The way we worship is to follow and obey.” —Alan Hirsch
INTRODUCTION: The Sea of Galilee Boat
In 1986 an ancient boat was pulled from the mud along the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was an exciting find that gives us an idea of the sort of boat used during the time of Jesus.
The boat appeared due to a great drought during which the waters of the lake receded and was discovered by the brothers Moshe and Yuval Lufan, second-generation fishermen from the area.
Once the discovery was reported, members of the Israel Antiquities Authority came to investigate and begin an archaeological dig. Pulling the boat from the mud without damaging it took 12 days and nights, with the boat constantly under guard. Because the ancient wood was fragile, it then had to be transported carefully and submerged in a chemical bath for several years before it could be displayed.
Based on pottery and nails in the boat, radiocarbon dating, and construction techniques, the boat was dated to the first century AD. Because of the evidence of many repairs, they could tell the boat had been in use for at least several decades. Once it was beyond repair, its owners likely removed any useful wooden parts and intentionally sank the hull.
The point: This is a vivid reminder of the daily life of Galilean fishermen. They were small business owners—not unlike today, working families making small profits, enough to make a living in a cosmopolitan area, etc.
When they first met Jesus, Peter and Andrew were probably teenagers who were in all likelihood not wealthy or bright enough to be students of a rabbi. Instead of being in the temple studying, they were out learning their family trade. It is to the most unlikely and ill-equipped that Jesus says, “Follow me.”
He continues to call those on the margins today.
Jesus begins his ministry by calling them to follow him, and he concludes with a similar invitation to these same followers to go make more followers (Matthew 28). In between those two invitations Jesus spent his time showing us what it looks like to truly follow—to come under the authority of God, to live in an alternative kingdom, to live the life of heaven now—and join him in the “renewal of all things” (Matthew 19:28). Jesus says in essence, “Follow me. I’m going to show you how to do it.”
This sounds like a simple enough invitation. Yet why do so many of us fail to live in ways that do not reflect the Way?
THE STRUGGLE: Information Overload
We live in the information age. We have access to more information by orders of magnitude than any humans at any other time in human history. There is a benefit of course: we can Google anything or look anything up on Wikipedia. We don’t have to read a map ever again.
However, many of our deepest thinkers are not convinced that all this information, whether it comes on our smart phones, tablets, or laptops in the form of headlines, tweets, sound bytes, Facebook status, Instagram posts, YouTube videos, viral memes, blogs, books, plugs, movies, magazines, advertisements, newspapers, columns, articles, radio programs, interviews—even talks at our church—is it actually benefiting us. Does all this data make us better human beings? Does all that information make us better followers of Jesus?
In reality, this world poses a profound danger to us, especially when it comes to discipleship. There are two ways in which a world of too much information poses a threat to learning: It can cause us to forget what we learn, and it can cause us to forget how we learn.
We forget what we learn. (Story)
In a world already saturated with too much information, it’s hard to absorb and process new information, let alone remember it.
But there’s an even deeper challenge.
A world of information overload can also make us forget how we learn.
It is tempting to think that having access to information or absorbing information, or even being able to regurgitate information, is the same thing as learning.
But as any educator will tell you, the absorption and recall of information are the lowest forms of learning.
Then what is learning?
True learning never stops with information—it always leads to transformation. We have to learn with our feet.
Real learning reshapes not only what we know, but what we do. It changes how we see the world, who we become, what we produce, and what we pass on to our children.
God has always been primarily interested in our transformation.
The reason Jesus took on disciples was not merely to pass on information to them but to transform them to be like him, so that eventually they would teach like he taught, heal like he healed, walk like he walked, live like he lived, and bear God’s image as he did.
God is first and foremost concerned with our transformation. Ultimately, it’s why God assumed human form, so that he could heal our brokenness and restore us—and then invite us to join him demonstrating and announcing the kingdom.
Jesus seems clear:
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I say?” Jesus asked his disciples (Luke 6:46, NIV). Why would we call him master, why would we say that Jesus is the way, the truth, and life and not do what he says.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
Words without action were never acceptable to Jesus. Jesus is always honest about how difficult it will be. He is straightforward. And yet there are people to whom this invitation is enticing and electric, people who are looking for something to give their life too.
Remember Jesus is saying “I’m worth it—in me is life to the full.”
FISHERS OF PEOPLE
In John 6, Jesus feeds the five thousand and walks on water. And then he delivers a challenging word to the crowds, and even his disciples say, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (v. 60). Many of his disciples stopped following him, and Jesus asks the Twelve, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” (v. 67).
Simon Peter answers him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (v. 68).
Maybe Peter had a revelation that where Jesus was leading them would be like nothing they had ever seen. For him there was no turning back.
I often wonder if those first fishermen knew what would become of them? Do you think they had a sense of where this new trade, “fishing for people,” would lead them?
Jesus calls us to follow him. What will you say?