Scripture Reading: Luke 5:1-11
A young man from good home. His father is a teacher. His mother is a nurse. They are a musical family, and a church-going family. The young man is a good hockey player and plays on some top local teams. He takes his first drink at the age of 14. And from there his life takes a tumble. He disappears from family events… where is he tonight? Eventually he hits rock bottom…
What would you expect from such a young man? Where is his life leading him? Drugs? Dealing? Stealing? Jail?
Another young man. Again, he lives in a good home with hard working parents who provide for and support him in his dreams. But it’s not a church-going family. In fact, he gives the Christian clubs at university a rough time (all in good fun he thinks). He’s got no interest in church or God. His life is pretty good, if he must say so himself. He’s got a good girlfriend. He’s a good athlete. He’s a good student. He sees a bright career laying out before him, and there’s not a lot that’s going to take that away from him. What does life have in store for this young man? A big house? Fancy cars? A nice corner office?
Two different lives, both well outside the realm of the church. Neither has any time to even think about church, let alone ever considering going into one. That would be a big waste of time, for sure.
So what about these young men? Whatever became of them?
They are cousins actually, and would you believe they are both pastors?
The first, his name is Dave, is a pastor and evangelist in Maine, he sings and preaches at meetings and churches across the US Northeast and into New Brunswick. By his own account he endured 10 years of struggle and wayward living, God saved him from certain self-destruction. The second young man stands before you this morning.
People come from all walks of life into the church. What do we have here this morning? Teachers, administrators, nurses, labourers, salesmen, moms, dads, rich, poor, all walks of life are here.
And the beauty of it all is… God can use each and every one of us!
Over the next few weeks we’re going to look at the “Genius of Jesus”, where we’ll hear stories of Jesus and look at it’s impact on not only the people involved, but also how it impacts us today.
Today we’re looking at Jesus teaching beside a lake, and he ends up in the boat of a fisherman where he continues to teach the assembled crowd. Jesus is just starting his ministry and large crowds are already following him around.
After he finishes teaching, he takes the fisherman back out into deeper water and tells him to throw his net in. The fisherman hesitates, says he already spent all night fishing and didn’t catch a thing, but does so any way.
The net catches so many fish it begins to break! It takes two boats to bring the load of fish in to shore, nearly sinking both of them.
Once ashore, Jesus says to Simon Peter, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” Simon Peter, James, and John leave everything behind and follow Jesus. These three become the first disciples of Jesus.
Think about who are Jesus’ disciples. We’ve got Simon Peter, James, John, Matthew, Thomas, Judas, Simon, another James, Philip, Batholomew, Jude, and Andrew. Many of them were fishermen. There was also a tax collector. We don’t know the backgrounds of all the disciples, but I think it’s easy to agree they were not from high society. They were men who saw something in Jesus which caused them to walk away from their old lives and into a new journey with Jesus.
But it’s not just about what they saw in Jesus. Jesus invited them!
Jesus is the one who extended the invitation. They didn’t ask if they could come. All of these men were chosen, personally, to be part of an incredible journey where they would see and hear things no one else could ever be part of.
Now, if you were building a team of people to be taught and trained to take over for you when you’re done, who would you pick? Would you pick people who are uneducated? Would you pick people who smell like fish? Would you pick someone from a profession known for its cheaters?
If I were to build an elite team of people I’d look to business leaders; I’d talk to professors; I’d go to the leaders in the community, turn on the charm, and try my best to convince them to join me.
I’m willing to bet it wouldn’t work. After all, who am I but a small town, small church preacher. Why would someone out there want to join me?
And what am I using as a measuring tool to decide who I pick for my team? I’m looking at their achievements, their successes, their influence, maybe even their money, the same things the rest of us would look at.
Which leads me to the question, “What did Jesus look at?”
Most of these guys he picked are regular people. Nothing special about them. They aren’t sitting at the head table of political rallies. They aren’t rubbing elbows with royalty. They aren’t full of cash. They don’t have influence.
They don’t have any of the things we would look for if we are starting something special.
Yet these are who Jesus picks.
He hand selects them, with hardly a word shared. There’s no interview process, they don’t submit resumes with a list of references. Jesus just walks up to them and says, “Follow me.” And they do!
So what is so special about them? Why would Jesus pick a bunch of nobodies and trust them with everything?
That’s the genius of Jesus.
Jesus doesn’t look for what we look for. Jesus doesn’t look at their accomplishments, their awards, their influence. He has no need for any of it.
Jesus looks at their potential.
Only Jesus could know what these young men were capable of. We’d never be able to see what Jesus can see. Jesus can see their hearts. Jesus can see what they are going to do, with the right encouragement and teaching. Only Jesus can see what God can do in and through them.
Jesus selected these disciples because of who they are and what they can do. Jesus picked them because he knew what God had in store. God used them to build His church. They are the one’s who got it started after they had received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. A bunch of nobody specials going out and preaching about Jesus, and thousands of people join the church.
Jesus chose my cousin Dave. Not because he was a stand-up citizen, but because he saw into Dave’s heart and what he was capable of. How Dave would touch the lives of many in his ministry.
Just as Jesus chose me from a different life too.
Just as Jesus chooses you. Did you know this? Did you know that God has a plan for you too?
We all have a part to play. We all have incredible potential when we let God lead us by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we too accept the invitation from Jesus to follow him.
You could be thinking to yourself, “I have nothing to offer. What can I possibly ever do?”
What do you think the disciples thought? Could an uneducated fishermen have much to offer in terms of preaching the word of God to the masses? Could a tax collector? Could an alcoholic teenager? Could a man with a heart set on gaining us much as he could in wealth and influence?
We are often quite good at seeing what we can’t do. When we look at what seems to be an impossible task, all we can see are the barriers.
That’s not what God sees. God sees the potential. God sees the openings and the good that can come. God sees what we are capable of and asks us to join Him.
It’s genius… at least it looks that way to our simple way of thinking.
But for God, it’s all just part of His plan. It’s just what happens next.
So… are we willing to see fully what God has in store for us when we accept the invitation offered in Jesus, His Son? An invitation to follow him and learn of and from God’s great gift to this world. A gift who gives his life for us on the cross so we may fully know of the love being offered and how we might be part of a great plan to share it with everyone else who need to know about it too.
Jesus chose some unlikely followers when you really think about it.
But he also chooses us!
May we also be so bold to turn and walk with him when we hear those wonderful words, “Follow me!”