I delivered this talk a couple of years ago at various places. God spoke to people through it and there was salvation. As with everything I put online, please feel free to adapt and use.
I want you all to close your eyes. I want you to imagine that you’re at work or school. You’re doing what you normally do. Maybe you’re at your desk, or working on the construction site or taking a break for lunch. It’s a completely normal day, there’s nothing out of the ordinary. You have all your normal worries and concerns– paying the bills, your relationships with family and friends, meeting the next big work deadline. Maybe you’re counting down the hours until you get home. Then you notice a man walking towards you. There’s nothing unusual about how He looks. He’s just a normal looking man. But then He looks right at you and it’s as if He knows everything about you and He simply says ‘Come follow me.’ You stop what you’re doing, you get up and you follow Him immediately. You know it’s crazy, but you somehow know it’s what you were made for. You take a step out and you follow Jesus for the rest of your life.
This is exactly how it was for the fishermen in our reading – they were just normal people with normal worries, fears, hopes and dreams. They were just doing a normal days work when the extraordinary happened. They had an encounter with Jesus. They heard His call. They heard Him say ‘Come follow me’ and they took a step out and they followed. They stepped into their destiny, into what they were made for and they were never the same again. Their lives were completely transformed.
And that call to follow is the same today as it was then. Jesus is saying to you, just like he did to them, ‘Come follow me.’ He wants to transform you life too. He wants you to do the things He has planned for you since before the beginning of time. Jesus wants you to know Him and He wants you to experience His amazing love.
So you have consider are you going to say yes and follow and step out into an amazing life with God? Or if you’ve already made that commitment to follow in the past, are you willing to follow more closely? Willing to give more of yourself to Jesus? It’s my prayer and my hope that you will all answer yes.
They were just like us
One of the things that strikes me so much about this passage is the normality of the fishermen. They would have had normal concerns like you and me. They would have done wrong in the past. They would have experienced guilt and fear and rejection. They would have cried and they would have laughed. They were just normal people.
The fact is that no matter who you are or what you have done, Jesus loves you and wants you to follow Him. He is aware of your fears and your worries; paying the bills, difficult family lives, how the kids are growing up. He’s aware of issues and difficulties from your past. He’s with you when you’re alone or scared or experiencing loss and He wants to comfort you. He’s with you in the laughter and the good times too. I can’t make this clear enough, no matter who you are, Jesus wants you to follow Him. He is calling you to follow Him. The Bible describes this unconditional love so perfectly in Romans 8:
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Bible speaks for itself here. Jesus loves you and that’s why He’s calling you. He knows you better than you know yourself, He knows your individual situation and He knows your heart and He loves you the same and He is saying to you ‘Come follow me’.
Accepting the Challenge – Stepping out Immediately
The second thing that strikes me so much about this amazing passage is how the fisherman ‘left their nets at once and followed him’. They didn’t say ok and not act on it, they didn’t say next month or next week or even I’ll get things in order and follow tomorrow. They immediately followed Him. What an amazing example, how those men on their normal day heard the call of Jesus Christ the Son of God, stopped what they were doing and followed immediately!
Would that have been an easy choice to make? Of course not. Stepping out into the unknown is scary. It’s uncomfortable. But I promise you, there is always more to life than we see now. There is always more of God to know and we can always, even if we already are following Him, follow Him more closely. The challenge to us today is the same as it was then. Will you rise to it? Will you say yes? Will you respond to the call and follow Jesus? Will you do that immediately? Will you step into your destiny, into what God created you for?
God is yearning for you to say yes more than you can ever imagine. In fact the Bible tells us, especially when you chose to follow for the first time and give your life over to Jesus, that there is ‘joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents’ (Luke 15:10). Can you picture that, when you say yes, when you accept the call, there is cheering and joy and celebration in heaven itself! So great and huge and incomprehensible is the love of God for us.
Jesus is saying to you ‘Come follow me.’ What’s your answer going to be?
An Amazing Life with God
And of course, after the fisherman accepted this call to follow Jesus, their lives were never the same again. They became disciples, they learned from Jesus and after He died on the cross for our sins and rose to Heaven, they spread the good news to thousands upon thousands of people. They lived extraordinary lives and devoted themselves to helping others hear and respond to the call of Jesus. They did the amazing things that Jesus did – they healed the sick, cast out demons and performed a multitude of miracles. Jesus even said ‘I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.’ Greater things than Jesus did! That’s how amazing and powerful God wants our lives to be. I don’t know about you but I find that incredibly exciting!
So what’s the challenge for us all today? Jesus is saying to you ‘Come follow me.’ If you’ve responded to that call before and are a Christian, will you commit today to following more closely? Will you commit to becoming better followers and unlocking more of what God planned for you since the before beginning of time?
Or perhaps you’ve never responded to that call. Perhaps you didn’t even know that Jesus was calling you. The message for you is that Jesus loves you, loves you so much that He died so that you could be forgiven and you could live your lives for Him. There is a plan for you and a purpose for your life. The Bible makes it clear that if you believe in Jesus and turn away from all the wrong in your life and commit to following Him, rather than yourself, then you will be saved. Your life will be transformed right now and you can be assured of eternal life afterwards. God wants you to follow Him more than you can imagine and He wants to do amazing things through you and He wants that to start right now.
Jesus is saying to each of us ‘Come follow me.’
You’re now going to have an opportunity to respond to that call. We’re going to move into a time of prayer and I’m going to invite the band to play. I want you to speak to God and to give Him your answer.
We’d also love to pray for you. The Prayer Ministry team will be by the Organ. There’s nothing scary about this, they just want to pray for you and to see you blessed by God. It’s completely confidential. If you’re serious about taking the step to follow or to follow more closely, I’d really encourage you to go forward and to receive prayer to commit yourself to God at this time and to receive encouragement and blessing. I’d particularly encourage you to go forward if you’re saying yes for the first time. Please don’t leave this morning without speaking to someone.
I’m going to pray and then I’d invite you to make your response to God, either in private prayer or through the receiving of Prayer Ministry.