January 24, 2021
Pastor John Hering
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. 15 “The time is fulfilled,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near! Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
16 As Jesus was going along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen. 17 Jesus said to them, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 18 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 Going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately Jesus called them. They left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
It’s time for a change. We saw the change take place this past week in Washington. The controversial election called for a new president. If people ask why this happened a simple answer is, “Some people thought it was time for a change.” Others think it’s time for change when it comes to our money. Perhaps some of you thought, “It’s time for me to control my money instead of my money controlling me.” And by the way, if you’re thinking of such a money controlling change, we can help you with that. Maybe you thought it was time for change when it came to your health. You said, “Now I’m going to eat right, get off the couch and get some exercise, and take better care of myself.” If someone asks you why, you can tell them, “It was time for a change.” But, this morning we’re not here to talk about joining a gym, cutting up credit cards or politics. We’re here because the problems that upset us the most are not political, financial or physical, but spiritual. We’re here because we know our sinful life has separated us from God (sin) and we know we’re in need of a change (the gospel). The world offers many solutions for positive change socially, physically and emotionally, but Jesus offers the change that truly makes a difference in our lives. That’s because Jesus offers us the gospel! Today The Holy Spirit points us to Jesus because
Christ Calls For A Change
Calling us to Repentance & Faith
God had been planning for this day for a long time. Ever since he created Adam and Eve he was looking forward to the day when his promises would be fulfilled. There were prophets and messengers to prepare people for this important day. The greatest of these was John the Baptist who prepared people to listen to Jesus. Now Jesus was here and “14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. 15 “The time is fulfilled,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near! Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Last week we heard Paul preach a 460 word sermon to the people in the synagogue. Today Jesus preaches a 17 word sermon and it was perfect! First we marvel at Jesus the promised Savior of the world. When the people heard John preach they heard from a man that had the same hang ups they had due to sin. But, when they heard Jesus they heard God the perfect Son of Man. Second we marvel at the moment. It had been hundreds of years since the world heard from a prophet sent from God. Then John came. But, now he was in prison. The world was once again quiet. There were no more promises to make. The perfect moment had arrived. Thirdly, we marvel at the message. We can boil Jesus sermon down to basically two words. Repent & Believe. That is the perfect sermon. It is exactly what the people of Israel needed to hear. They were a people who had mastered their political, social and physical life to suit themselves. They thought they could make God happy with their dedicated and changed lives of obedience. They were satisfied at being religious instead of being faithful. Spiritually speaking, we might say they had fallen asleep at the wheel. Jesus gave them a perfect message: Repent & Believe.
But, we soon find out they didn’t like the man, the moment or the message. He became a threat to their religion. He was gaining a following that would exceed their followers and his message was setting people from their law-based religion. Jesus Christ was calling, but they didn’t want to listen to this man.
They aren’t so different than we are. Jesus said “Repent.” They didn’t want to listen to his message of repentance, because that insinuated that they were doing something wrong and needed to be turned around. I have the same attitude inside of me that doesn’t like hearing that I’m doing something wrong and can immediately get very defensive. If you tell me I always twitch my pinkies when I’m preaching I can handle that, but if you say something about the way I live my life—then watch your back! Jesus said, “Believe.” Just like them I like to see, touch and hold things. Jesus said believing was a do or die ordeal. Jesus calls for change to rely on something I can’t see, touch or do. I want to rely on me more than I rely on God. Jesus wants you and me to rely on me.
And what about God’s moment? The Jews wanted their Messiah to show up on a throne in Jerusalem. But, Jesus showed up on the streets of Nazareth and shores of Galilee. It was a critical moment when they came face to face with Jesus. That happens to us, too. Sometimes it’s during a sermon and you ask yourself, “Why does the preacher have to talk about my sins?” Or “How did he know I needed to hear that?” You see, Jesus still comes to us in the moment through his Word. We see Jesus’ face in the sad eyes of someone we’ve disappointed. We hear Jesus’ voice when our spouse or Christian friends points out an ungodly activity in our life. We ask, “Why do you have to confront me at this moment? Why now? Can’t it wait?”
Think of it like this. What is your reaction when your phone rings in the middle of the night? You are startled and thoughts run through your mind: “Who is it? Who is calling me at this hour?” Then you think, “What has happened? It must be an important call.” Then you realize that it isn’t the phone but your smoke alarm going off! Then you get up at once because you know it just can’t wait! Jesus’ call to repentance and faith is no different. Repentance is confrontational because it has to be. Faith is critical because it means life or death. In love, Jesus calls us from sin and to forgiveness. So, at just the right moment, with just the message, working through just the right person, Jesus calls. He calls for repentance and faith because he calls for a change for the better. Then Jesus supplies us with ability, strength and mission as
He calls us to Service
Jesus came to proclaim the Kingdom of God because the world was in need of change. Jesus also knew his time of proclaiming law and gospel would be limited to three years on this earth. Therefore, grace upon grace, the Lord Jesus called disciples to repent and believe, and he also called them into service so that the message of God’s Word would continue to change the lives of people forever. Today we hear about four of these men: Andrew, Peter, James and John. “16 As Jesus was going along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen. 17 Jesus said to them, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 18 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 Going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately Jesus called them. They left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.”
When was the last time you changed your job? We know changing jobs is one of those major times in the lives of people. It can be difficult to change your job because we are also creatures of routine, security and smooth sailing. Jesus saw these four fishermen and told them, “Gentlemen, it’s time for a change. Leave your nets and your boats. I have a new job for you.” I wonder how difficult it was for them? Maybe it was easy for them because they didn’t like fishing all that much. Or maybe working for Dad wasn’t all that easy either. It seems they were okay with leaving dad with the employees. Whatever the reason, they’re weren’t held back. Besides that, these men also knew who Jesus was. The last time Jesus was up in Capernaum (Luke 4:38) Jesus had been to Simon’s house and healed his mother-in-law. Perhaps they saw Jesus as the new, up-and-coming mover and shaker in Palestine. However, I can counter these thoughts realizing that fishing wasn’t their hobby, but they fished for a living. Following a teacher around Palestine didn’t exactly put bread on the table. And look what happened to the guy who baptized Jesus! He was in prison now! But, how about I put the best construction on their actions and just say Jesus’ call was powerful and effective. They weren’t naïve. It wasn’t an easy job at all. Jesus knew exactly who he was calling into service.
Think of it. That kind of trust in spite of the challenges was precisely what Jesus wanted to see. He called men to faith. He called these men to put their faith into action. Likewise when Jesus called us to faith, he also calls us into active service. With his call into service also comes blessings from Jesus. We have a Savior to hears us when we have troubles. We have a Savior who understands and knows exactly what we’re going through. Jesus knows the challenges we face when following him. We don’t have to drop our nets, but we might be called to drop our creature comforts, our security in the things of this world. Yes, we know that following Jesus means taking up our crosses and following him. When we realize the blessings we enjoy as a follower of Christ, and realize the blessings those around us don’t yet have, let’s not hesitate or get defensive, but rejoice in our call to service.
There is a whole new job for you, and Jesus has given you spiritual gifts in order to fulfill your service. You can show mercy on those who are hurting. You can encourage those who are down. Are you gifted with arts, music or even taking on a support role to help others. Perhaps the Lord has blessed you with the gift of discernment, so you can apply the Word of God for people with specific needs or problems of life. These are jobs in God’s kingdom that bless people, and bless you as your use those gifts to serve that creates a huge change in the lives of others forever.
It’s time for a change. Yes, the change might come in government, finances and health. It is good for us to pray for God’s blessings on those changes. If the changes we make mean leaving behind a bad habit and pursuing godly lives, these too, will be a blessing for us. No matter what changes we face this side of heaven, there is something on which we can also count on. It isn’t the world of social, political or physical changes that won’t last. It is Jesus Who Calls For A Change for our eternal good! He will lovingly call us to repentance and faith in his forgiveness. Jesus calls us into service to share his gospel message with others. You can preach the sermon Jesus preached. Repent. Believe. For a Change The is Out Of This World! Amen!