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What Jesus Really Wants

January 23rd 2011 by Joel Schultz

As Jesus begins His public ministry He desires that people follow Him and become fishers of men.

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Epiphany 3A – Matthew 4:12-25 – “What Jesus Really Wants” – 1/23/11 Our text today presents us with Jesus’ first recorded deed of public ministry. Did you happen to catch what that was? You might think that it would have been something dramatic. After all, this is the Son of God who brings God’s final, victorious, conquering power into the world! Yet what does Jesus see as most important? What does He desire to do until the end the age? The answer is right here in verse 19 – He want to make disciples! He really wants people to follow Him.

So the first act of His public ministry is to call four fishermen to be His disciples – followers. And He promises that He will change them and use them to call others into that same relationship – to be fishers of men.

This desire of Jesus, for people to follow Him, presents us today with both opportunity and clarity. First, understand that here, in these words of Jesus, is an opportunity for Christians – you and me – to pause and to marvel and to rejoice! Think of it, Jesus has reached down into your dirty, sin-filled life – a life of rebellion against God – a life stained by death – a life lived apart from Him – and has said to you, “follow me.”

The call is His. We did not volunteer to be disciples any more than those four fishermen. In fact, no one becomes Jesus’ disciple by his own initiative. Jesus calls and only then can and do people respond.

Today, His call comes through the Gospel – that Good News message about a Savior who took the filth of our sin upon Himself and died the death we deserved – a Savior that gave us His right standing before God and took our punishment of eternal separation from God – a Savior who rose from the dead to defeat death and Satan once and for all.

Each of us have been called to follow Jesus, to be His disciples, to be in fellowship with Him – A call that came through the Word of God or through Holy Baptism – a call that took sinners like you and me and made us His forever. Saved by Him, called by Him, Jesus’ words indeed give us opportunity to pause and to marvel and to rejoice in the love of our Savior.

Secondly, understand that here, in these words of Jesus, is clarity – clarity in knowing what it is Jesus wants us to do today. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (v.19). As those who have been called by His grace to be disciples of Jesus, He now desires us to be fishers of men – to seek out the lost – to take the light of the Gospel and shine it on those living in the darkness of sin and death.

And He equips us for the task. We are to use the “net” He provides – the mean of grace – the Gospel of Jesus in Word and Sacrament. There is no other power in the whole world that can bring sinners into Christ’s kingdom. Only the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses people from their sin, and only such cleansed sinners are received into God’s kingdom for eternity.

And like fishermen, our new calling is one that takes patience and perseverance. We will never know for sure what results our labors will amount to. We are simply called to follow Jesus’ instructions and trust Him to bring the results He has in mind.

That is what Jesus wants us to do – be fishers of men. So, how’s your fishing? Well, it might not always be so good, huh? There are many things that get in the way of fishing. Sometimes we can lack the awareness of the need to share the faith. Our world promotes the false idea that all roads lead to the same God. It is difficult for many Christians to hear the truth of Jesus’ words: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6). It can be difficult to hear that Jehovah’s Witnesses and Morons, for example, at least based on the teachings of their churches, do not believe in Jesus as true God and Savior from sin and death.

Sometimes our fishing/ witnessing is affected by our attitudes toward certain people. The neighbor we can’t stand, the person who is strange by my standards, the person from a different social class, the homeless, the person from a different racial background.... Do your attitudes about those around you make you not care about their salvation?

A general lack of confidence or a fear of rejection can also lead too poor fishing. Many Christians just don’t feel like they know enough to share their faith – no competence in the subject matter – “I’m not sure if I could answer their questions, so I won’t say anything.” Or we are not sure what reaction we will get – not sure wether to risk it the repercussions – “I don’t want any problems from those who don’t believe – so I won’t say anything.”

I also think that many Christians simply think it is someone else’s job to witness to unbelievers. My oldest brother, when he graduated from the seminary, was sent a videotape from the congregation to which he was called to introduce them to the congregation. The person shooting the tape showed the parsonage, the church, the offices, and the empty church. As the man panned the empty church he said, “Now that’s why we are calling you, to come fill these empty pews.” Although said innocently, his words underscore what many Christians believe – that it is the job of trained pastors, missionaries, teachers, and the like to witness to the faith.

The truth is that the privilege to fish is given to every Christian. Some indeed are specially trained but everyone is called by Jesus and equipped to share the faith with others. See, changed by Jesus, He will MAKE us into fishers of men.

The key is simply living life with Jesus – being fed by Him through His Word and Sacraments – striving to live a life worthy of the calling we have receive through the power of the Holy Spirit. Then, see, letting Him work in us, we will slowly be transformed by that power. And He will use us powerfully to fish.

Here are some suggestions: Pray for those you know that don’t know Jesus or who have fallen away from the faith. Encourage unbelievers who are going through problems and difficulties in life. Share the hope you have in Jesus. Give a simple invitation to come and sit with you in church to hear what Jesus has to say. And ask more than once.

Jesus wants people to follow Him. It is the thing that He will care about until the end of the world. We rejoice that He’s done it for us and we pray that He will do it through us.

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