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But Where is He Going? (Matt. 4:18-20)

February 1, 2015 Speaker: Bryce Morgan Series: Reset: Back to the Basics of Our One Mission

Topic: Matthew Passage: Matthew 4:18–4:20

Reset: Back to the Basics of Our One Mission

But Where is He Going?
Matthew 4:18-20
(One Mission: I am Not Ashamed)
February 1st, 2015

 

I. Kinds of Resets

Have you ever had to reset your computer, or your tablet, or your phone? If you did, maybe it was necessary because of a virus. Maybe it was necessary because, after many years of use, your system was bloated and bogged down.

Did you know there are two different kinds of 'resets': there is something called a 'soft reset', and then there is something (not surprisingly) called a 'hard reset. A “soft reset” is typically something like a more in-depth reboot of the system, a process in which you can retain most of your personal files. But a “hard reset” will restore the default factory settings of your device, that is, it will clear all your data and take the device back to what it was like when it first came out of the box. Unfortunately, if your screen has a crack in it, it will still be there, even after a “hard reset”.

Have you ever thought about resetting your spiritual life? And I'm not talking about a “soft reset”. I'm talking about a genuine “hard reset” in light of God's word, through the power of God's Spirit. Just like our devices, Christians, followers of Jesus are also susceptible to spiritual viruses; we are also prone to become spiritually bloated and bogged down. There are times when those 'factory settings' need to be restored.

What exactly do I have in mind? Well, let's look together at God's word and begin by asking two related questions: 1) What does it means to follow Jesus, and if we have or are prepared to follow Jesus, then 2) Where on earth is He going?

 

II. The Passage: “Fishers of Men” (4:18-20)

Now we are going to do a lot of page flipping this morning, but let's begin to answer those questions by looking together at Matthew 4:18, 19. This is what we read there:

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. [19] And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” [20] Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-20)

I am going to begin with the assumption that what Jesus is doing here at the beginning of Matthew's Gospel is the very thing he will commission these men to do at the end of Matthew's Gospel in chapter 28: Jesus is making disciples. A disciple is a follower; one who follows in order to learn or become. And Jesus is clear about what they will learn, isn't He? He is clear about what they will become: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
And think for a minute about the connection between the two parts of that statement: “Follow ME...and I will make YOU fishers of men.” It is in the following of Jesus specifically that anyone can become a 'fisher of men'. This then gives us insight in regard to where Jesus is going, right? He is going to men, to people. And He is going to fish.

But what does it mean to “fish for men/people”? Clearly it isn't the same as fishing for fish, since Peter and Andrew leave their nets behind when they follow Jesus. So what does it involve? And why does it really matter?

Let me do this: let me give you three truths about the ministry of Jesus that I believe will help us get our bearings when it comes to following Jesus. Here are those three truths:

1. Jesus came to fulfill the Law of God, by fulfilling the Great Commands.
2. Jesus fulfilled these Great Commands as He fulfilled God's mission.
3. Jesus continues to fulfill God's mission through His fullness in the Church.

So get your fingers ready and let's see how God's word, how Scripture reveals and explains each of these truths.

 

1. Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets by fulfilling the Great Commands.

First of all, let's turn to the next chapter, to Matthew 5:17. Listen to what Jesus tells us about where He's going:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)

Even though Jesus didn't 'tow the line' in regard to the religious leaders of His day, those who saw themselves as the guardians of the Law, He makes it clear here that his ministry was one of fulfillment not abolition. Now, there are many ideas about how Jesus fulfilled the Law, but let's keep going in Matthew to discover a passage that can help us make sense of Jesus' claim. Turn to Matthew 22:34-40. This is what we read:

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. [35] And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. [36] “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” [37] And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. [38] This is the great and first commandment. [39] And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. [40] On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40)

Now I want you to notice that both Matthew 5:17 and Matthew 22:34-40 are concerned with the “Law”, or “the Law and the Prophets” (that's shorthand for what we call the OT). And clearly, based on what Jesus tells us here about how the Law and Prophets “depend” or “hang” on these two Great Commands, then Jesus fulfilling the Law must also “depend” on Jesus fulfilling these Commands. So I think it's fair to say that Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets by fulfilling these Great Commands.

But with those ideas in mind, let's look at our second point about Jesus ministry.


2. Jesus Fulfilled These Great Commands as He Fulfilled God's Mission

Let's keep moving through Gospels by heading from the first Gospel to the last Gospel. Look with me at John 4:34. When his disciples urged him to eat, Jesus responded...

...“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. [35] Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. (John 4:34, 35)

If you flip forward two chapters, Jesus makes a similar statement in 6:38, 39:

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. [39] And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. (John 6:38-39)

Did Jesus love God with all His heart and all his soul and with all His mind? Absolutely! He did that, He does that now, perfectly. His ministry was about doing God's will, in every way, all the time. And as we see here, and as we know from the Great Commands, God was glorified by how Jesus loved His neighbor as himself. That WAS God's will. Turn back to the Gospel of Luke. We see this same thing in 19:8-10...

And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” [9] And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. [10] For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:8-10)

Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets by fulfilling the Great Commands. But here Jesus speaks again about the reason He came. Is this a second reason? No, this is another way of saying the same thing. In seeking and saving the lost Jesus was loving God with His all and loving His neighbor. And if you go back one more book, to Mark 10, we are given even more clarity. Look with me at verses 42-45. Look at what they tell us about the ministry of Jesus and the mission of God:

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. [43] But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, [44] and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. [45] For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

Think about that statement in light of the Great Commands. Could there be a more perfect fulfillment of these Great Commands than the cross of Jesus? Jesus loved and served men and women throughout His ministry. But His greatest act of service was also His greatest act of glorifying His Father. When He gave his life as a ransom for many on that Roman cross, He fulfilled the Law and the Prophets, not simply as a spotless sacrifice, but as an expression of perfect obedience to the Great Commands.

So Jesus didn't fulfill the Great Commands in some vague, generic way. He fulfilled them as He fulfilled God's mission of redemption. But there's more. Listen again to the third truth.


3. Jesus Continues to Fulfill God's Mission through His fullness in the Church

Go back with me to the Gospel of John, this time, chapter 17. Listen, starting in verse 15 to how Jesus prays for His followers:

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. [16] They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. [17] Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. [18] As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. (John 17:15-18)

Jesus does not ask God to keep in the world because it would be too crowded in heaven if they were taken out of the world. No, they are to stay in the world because they have have been “sent into the world”. The mission of God that Jesus began is to continue. And it's that fact that helps us make sense of what we find in Ephesians 1:22, 23 (turn there). We read...

And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, [23] which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:22-23)

Have you ever wondered why Paul refers to the church as the “body of Christ” in several of his letters? Even though Paul uses the concept to teach us about our unity and about how much, in spite of our differences, we truly need another, that's not THE reason we are “the body of Christ”. We the body of Christ, because through us, Jesus is continuing to carry out the mission of God through us. Isn't that stunning? The work He began in Galilee 2000 years ago is still be carried out, by Him, in Buckeye today.

But you might say, “No, wait. All of this is really about the first disciples, the Apostles; not me, not us. Right?” I want you to turn over to I Corinthians 9. Listen and see if you can spot all of these same ideas in what Paul is teaching the Corinthians here:

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. [20] To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. [21] To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. [22] To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. (I Corinthians 9:19-22)

But, you might say, that's Paul. But when we move into the next chapter, we understand why Paul was encouraging them with his own example. Look at 10:23...

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. [24] Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. [25] Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. [26] For “the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.” [27] If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. [28] But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience—[29] I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience? [30] If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? [31] So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. [there's the Great Commnad; here's the second...] [32] Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, [33] just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. [11:1] Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. (I Corinthians 10:23-33; 11:1)

Sounds like Paul was on the same mission Jesus was on: seeking and saving the lost. But like Paul says, it's not that he might save them, but “that they may be saved”. By who? By Jesus. And is this just for Paul? No, Paul tells the Corinthians, and God is telling us, “Imitate me in this way as I imitate Jesus.”

And as we do that, Jesus is continuing to fulfill the mission of God through us.

 

III. How to Run and Where to Run

Brothers and sisters, do you understand what this means? If this is correct, then this means the reason our church exists is to carry out, to continue the “seeking and saving” mission of God that Jesus began. Again, if this is correct, then it means the reason God has left you in this world is to carry out that very mission in your world, in your circle.

But many of us have redefined our Christian lives. We have made the mission of God a kind of extra-curricular activity; something we hope will happen, but not something we are very deliberate about. We might call it outreach, and then think in terms of events and committees.

In many cases, we instead we focus on sin management, we focus on deepening our fellowship, we focus on protecting our kids, we focus on increasing our biblical knowledge, we focus on volunteering at church, we focus on fine tuning our programs, we focus on community activism or charitable service.

Are any of those bad things? No, absolutely not. Most of those are necessary things; critical things. But they are to happen within the context of the mission of God. Why? Because that's what it means to follow Jesus. That's where He's going. Those kinds of things should be taking place as we go.

At Way of Grace, we want our Four Essentials to point us back to the priorities of God's word: One Lord, One Body, One Truth, and One Mission. But One Mission is not put at the end because it is the least important. None of these Essentials is biblically clear unless all of them are linked. You can't really say you follow One Lord unless you are on His One Mission. And you can't say you are on His One Mission unless you are going with His One Truth.

You see, the danger for all of us is to lose sight of what it means to follow Jesus, to turn it into something it isn't. Remember the call of Jesus: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Do you hear the Great Commands in those words? “Follow me...”. Loving Christ is loving God. Giving all to Christ is giving our all to God. “...and I will make you fishers of men.” Isn't that the ultimate expression and the ultimate end of loving our neighbor, that they might be saved?

Do you understand? The purpose of your life here is to obey the Great Commands as you carry out the mission of God. Isn't that what Jesus was doing? And aren't we His disciples? Aren't we called to imitate Christ?

Life is like a race. The Great Commands are like the principles of running, and the mission of God is like the track. You can know everything about racing, about the regulations and about the right techniques, about the history of the sport and the best shoes to wear. But without a track, you'll never win the prize. You need both: how to run and where to run.

Jesus ran that race, didn't He? Paul ran that race, didn't He? Are you? Am I?

Way of Grace, it's easy to get off track. It's easy to become bloated and bogged down by the daily grind, by the pressures of the world, by temptations to be comfortable, by Christian culture, but church traditions, by fixating on “my personal relationship with Jesus”. It's easy to get off track. It's easy to accept counterfeits when it comes to following Jesus.

That's why I believe I need, that's why I believe we as a church need a 'hard reset'. We need God to restore us to His 'factory settings'. Listen again to where Jesus is going...

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:8-10)

"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

And we could add two more from the Gospels:

Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13b)

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10b)

The cross of Jesus made that abundant life possible. But there are many more who have yet to receive it. There are many more God wants to call. And you and I are His instruments. We are the “body of Christ”.

I want to challenge you to think very carefully and very deeply about what this should mean for your life; what this should mean for our church. Would you commit to pray about what the mission of God should and must look like in your life? There is no other kind of Christian life. We cannot claim the name but fail to follow. Over the next three weeks we are going to get very biblical and very practical about what this should look like.

As we finish, I want you to try to visualize Jesus during His earthly ministry. Do you see Him among the sick and broken? Do you see Him with the hurting and spiritually hungry? Do you see Him going “to seek and save the lost”? But look where He is. He's in Buckeye. How? Because His earthly ministry really never ended. It continues today through us. What a high calling! What a privilege! “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” 

More in Reset: Back to the Basics of Our One Mission

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Get Ready to Stir (Hebrews 10:19-25)

February 15, 2015

How You Ought to Answer (I Peter 3:9-16)

February 8, 2015

Your Greatest Outreach Tool (Titus 2:1-3:8, 14)