This week’s message is the first in “The Real Jesus Christ” series to focus on application. We are instructed by scripture to follow Jesus. What does that mean, and what does that look like? Listen to Pastor Leland Acker’s message via Soundcloud.
Jesus called us to do more than say a sinners prayer and rest upon our blessed assurance. He called us to follow Him.
In Luke 9:23, Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
The call to follow Jesus is the call to an amazing lifelong journey in which you will literally see amazing things.
The life of a disciple is truly a transformational and fascinating experience. Think about it. When we read the Gospels, we often imagine ourselves as one of the disciples, as one who would follow and learn from Jesus.
In fact, there’s an entire TV series dedicated to that idea. The Chosen spends as much time, if not more, exploring the lives of the disciples and their personalities than it does recreating the events of the Bible.
None of us imagine ourselves as just one of the townspeople, Roman soldiers or Pharisees. We tend to imagine ourselves as disciples. That’s where Jesus was. That’s where the action was.
But life for the disciples was not for the faint hearted, and neither is life for disciples today. When Jesus issued this call to discipleship, He clearly set tough expectations. He made it plainly known what we should expect.
In Luke 9:23, we see three steps to discipleship.
1. Discipleship begins with the commitment to follow Jesus. Jesus had just predicted His death, burial and resurrection for our sins according to the scriptures. He then said, “If any will come after me.” Basically, He was saying, “This is where we’re headed.” To follow Jesus meant that you would have to be committed to the cause.
2. Discipleship involves sacrifice. Jesus’ next words were “let him deny himself.” Denying yourself means foregoing current temporary pleasures in order to achieve the greater goal of following Jesus. Sometimes this involves financial or career sacrifice. Sometimes this means discontinuing activities that are not pleasing to the Lord. Either way, there is sacrifice.
3. Discipleship involves following. This means we learn from the Lord and conform our lives accordingly.
Being a disciple means learning from the Lord and growing in your faith. This is an endeavor we have all undertaken. This is a journey that is best taken together.
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As the disciples argued over who would be the greatest in the Kingdom, Jesus took a small child and placed him in the middle, telling the disciples that those who would receive little children would also receive Christ. In other words, if you want to honor the Lord, receive those whom can do nothing for you.
Listen to the above-posted sermon as Pastor Leland Acker discusses how we are to love others the way Christ loved us.
The Gospel according to Mark was written to record Peter’s teachings about Jesus, so it should come as no surprise that the Lord’s call to the disciples to “come, and I’ll make you to become fishers of men,” had a profound impact on Peter. A fisherman by trade, and one who found balance on the water, Peter understood life best when he was casting a net, which is likely one reason he returned to fishing in John 21.
When Jesus called the disciples to follow Him, and become fishers of men, He was not only calling them to be His apostles. He was telling them what they would be doing.
Being fishers of men, the disciples would cast a proverbial net to bring people into the Lord’s presence. They would labor to bring people to salvation in Christ.
Likewise, we are called to be fishers of men. Our call mirrors that of the disciples. Jesus has called us to follow Him, to cast a wide net, and to work together.
We are called to follow Jesus. The disciples were called to follow. When Jesus said, “Come ye after me,” in Mark 1:17, He was telling them, “Fall in behind me and follow Me where I go.” Jesus led. They followed.
For us, following Jesus means that we should hear His teaching, we should follow His teaching, and we need to realize that the miracles and work are His. In Mark 1, it was Jesus who cast out the unclean spirits. It was Jesus who healed Peter’s mother-in-law of her fever. It was Jesus who cleansed the lepers.
For us, it’s Jesus who saves, changes/transforms lives, who hears our prayers and intercedes for us before the Father. We don’t accomplish these things through our own wisdom or innovation. It’s Christ, working in us through the Holy Spirit with the blessing of the Father. We merely follow and obey, ministering, praying and serving as the Lord leads.
Jesus called, and in Mark 1:18-20, the disciples left their nets, boats, fathers and employees, and followed Christ. They left it all behind. To follow Christ, we, too, must leave it all behind. While some are called to leave the life they’ve built in order to become missionaries overseas, not every one receives that order from the Lord.
Being called to leave it all does not always mean that you have to leave here. However, being called to leave it all behind does mean that you will have to leave your unscriptural beliefs behind in order to follow Jesus. You will also have to leave the friends who hinder your walk with Christ. While it is good to have lost friends to whom you can witness, if that friend is openly rejecting the Gospel and discouraging you from following Christ, that friendship is detrimental to your Spirituality. We also have to leave behind our sin and rebellion against God.
Following Jesus meant starting over for the disciples. For us, it means starting over by allowing Christ to transform us from the inside out.
The question then becomes, “Are you following Christ? Or are you wanting Him to fill the gaps in your life?”
May God bless you in your Spiritual journey.