Sermon March 29, 2008 : An invitation to discipleship (Luke 5)

Posted in Sermons
  • Presenter: Samuel Acevedo
  • Date: March 29, 2008
  • Location: Congregation Lion of Judah, Boston MA

I’m excited to see all of you here tonight, specially if you’re just here because in a way, as you’re going to hear, even if you’ve been coming here for a while, everyone who’s here tonight is part of what we’re considering is a new and exciting era in this fellowship. It's a beautiful thing that God has ahead and tonight’s talk is addressing some of those things.

I’d like for us to turn to Luke, chapter 5. I’d like to talk about discipleship tonight. In fact, it’s not just the talk, I’ll tell you upfront. I have a bias. Tonight is an invitation to discipleship. I’m excited tonight because for everyone who’s here tonight I have great news from the spirit of God.

I received word from the spirit of God that what’s ahead of you, even if you’ve been serving the Lord for years, or you’re just beginning to explore the Kingdom of God, what awaits you, what’s ahead for your life could be the greatest adventure of your life, no matter where you are in your walk before the Lord and if right now tonight if you make a decision, the greatest time, the greatest season, the greatest adventure of your life lies ahead of you; the best years of your life with the Lord await you.

But there’s a flip to that and that’s the way it is with discipleship. The greatest adventure of your life will also cost you more than anything else in your life, but I’m telling you that it’s worth it. And this passage, Luke chapter 5 gets me thinking about discipleship perhaps because, well maybe it has something to do with the title. If you notice the editors, if most of you have a version of the Bible known as the New International version or the NIV and if that’s where you’re reading from, the title of this passage for the editors of the NIV have entitled this section, Luke chapter 5, verses 1 through 11, the Calling of the first disciples.

However, if you happen to be a spanglish person like me, who goes back and forth in Spanish and you happen to have a bilingual Bible as many of you do, and you have one of those Bibles, right, pastor Esteban, has one of those Bible that is on one side, the left side the Reina Valera, which is like the Spanish King James, and on the right side is the NIV, you’ll notice something, there’s a different title to Luke chapter 5 in the Spanish version, in the Reina Valera. What’s the title? La pesca milagrosa, which is translated as the miraculous catch of fish.

Now, I’m paying attention for this for a couple of reasons. First of all, Luke, the evangelist, did not write either of those things. The original Greek does not have either The miraculous catch of fish, or the Calling of the first disciples, at the beginning of it. What happened here? Well, no one’s committed any crimes, no one’s committed any heresies, no one’s committed any sins, no one’s trying to pull the wool over your eyes. What’s happened is that the editors of these distinct Bibles are trying to help us. Seriously, they’re just trying to help guide your eye and let you know as you’re looking at this text, well, what’s taking place between verses 1 and 11 of Luke chapter 5.

Basically they’re trying to let you know what was the important thing that took place here, so that you know that you’re looking for, which means this: someone made a decision that when the editor of the Reina Valera that the most important thing that took place by the shores of lake Gennesaret that day, was this incredible miracle over the works of nature, where the Lord willed this miraculous catch of fish. That is a huge thing, especially if you’re a first century fisherman and we’re going to talk about later.

Someone else editing the NIV decided, no, the most huge, the biggest thing that took place here was the calling of the first disciples. and in that sense I heard that the Lord was telling me, ok, Sam, which do you think was most important? Which is the bigger miracle? The Lord canceling the laws of nature, taking over this lake, ordering fish to do things that fish aren’t meant to do? Or the calling of the first disciples?

I’ll tell you, I’m not going to be a coy, I’ll tell you exactly where I am. I believe that there is no greater miracle, I really believe this, it’s an astonishing thing that anyone would be a disciple of Christ. You know why? Unlike any other miracle people choose to become disciples of Jesus. The Lord can command the eyes of the blind to be open, he can command paralytics to dance, he can, with his voice of authority, call the dead, and he did on more than one occasion, out of the grave. He has that authority. Or he can command authority over the laws of nature. He did here as he did, as he calmed the storm, as he did on many occasions. What does not do, what he’s chosen not to do is command anyone to follow him, to become his disciples. People become his disciples, people give up their lives, give up what they know, give up what pleases them, give up their area of comfort, they give their lives up to follow Jesus at will.

You’re a disciples of Jesus because you have made a decision, you chose to become a disciples of Jesus. The army of God is an all volunteer army. And frankly, folks, for many people, I’d say for most people, let’s just wait to bigger leap, that is too huge a leap, which is why I want to make a distinction right now.

Many people, in their experience with God, in their journey with God, sometimes drought their lives would prefer being religious than to be a disciples of Jesus. Now, what do I mean by that? And forgive me if that term has come across as a pejorative term. I want to be clear: you can be Catholic and be religious, you could be Methodist and be religious, you could be Presbyterian and be religious, you could be Baptist and be religious, you could be pentecostal and be religious, you could be a member of the congregación León de Judá for years and be religious, because it’s a status, it’s a state of being. What distinguishes someone who’s religious from someone who has made a decision to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. And I came to thinking, you know it really comes down to this: we can boil this down, but I’m going to save you all some time, it comes down to this: who is following whom?

Because if I’m religious I can take my idea of who Jesus is and plant that idea within my prefabricated framework of my life and take this pre conceived idea of who Christ is, all that I choose to venerate about the Kingdom of God, what I love about God, what I love about the experience of being part of the body of Christ, and incorporate that by reference in a life that I have run, over which I have programmed, one that I am leading and then I’m expecting Jesus to follow me. I’m expecting God to bless, to accompany me as I proceed in the predetermined path that I had set and I can literally and very credibly use words like, Lord bless you, or may the Lord bless this effort, or may the Lord accompany in this task, or may God be with you, or God be with me. What I’m basically saying, if I’m religious is you’re the one who’s really calling the shots in your life, but God is there to cheer you on. Christ is following you.

When you’re a disciple you’ve done an astonishing thing. For some reason you have chosen to forsake the things that you know, the things that make you comfortable, the things that make you save safe, the thing that you’ve trained for, your experiences, your best ideas, to follow Jesus, to parts unknown, to follow Jesus as Abraham did, leaving his life, leaving his family, leaving his known world to wherever it is that Jesus leads.

That’s crazy, isn’t it? How does anyone get to that point? And in Luke chapter 5, we have a perfect illustration of how. I think we have the principle, I think one of the best stories describing how someone becomes one of these disciples. How does anybody become a disciple of Jesus Christ? And I would admit the first step is this. How do people make that leap? How do people come to choose Jesus as the jefe, the boss of their lives and become disciples?

Number one: it begins with an encounter with Jesus Christ. You must have an encounter with Jesus Christ as Lord of Lords and King of Kings. For Peter, the event that would change the path of his life, took place by the shores of this lake, that he’d been working all his life. It says here:

“… One day Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked to pull out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and talked to the people from the boat….”

Now, let’s stop here for a minute. You know, you can be familiar with Jesus without having had an encounter with Jesus. You could have witnessed a miracle of Jesus and not have had an encounter with Jesus. You could have heard the teachings of Jesus without having had an encounter with Jesus. You could have witnessed Jesus rebuking demons in a grand Pentecostal service and yet not having had an encounter with Jesus, and that is exactly Peter’s case.

This is not the first time that Jesus and Peter laid eyes on each other. In fact, Peter had witnessed all of those things. If you go back one chapter to Luke chapter 4, verse 38, there’s a reason why Luke chronicles this, why the Lord inspired Luke to chronicle over the scripture in this way, because something huge happened in Peter’s house, not too long before this. It says here:

“…Jesus left the synagogue where incidentally he rebuked a demon and we’re presuming was there, and he went to the house of Simon. Now, Simon’s mother in law was suffering from a high fever and they ask Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them and then notice this wonderful scene:

“… as the sun was setting the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness and laying hands on each one he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people shouting, ‘you are the Son of God’, but he rebuke them and he would not allow them to speak because they knew he was the Christ….”

Where is all of this stuff happening? In Peter’s house. Now, what was Peter doing during that time? Scriptures don’t tell us. What was Peter thinking during that time? Scriptures don’t tell us. But I’ll tell you this, I wouldn’t be surprised that a guy could be watching God moving, tearing the world open in his own house and be completely oblivious to the move of God. Why? Because I’ve seen that.

We have several groups in León de Judá, we’re so many good God fearing women are praying, weeping for their husbands, they come to Christ. All of this stuff is happening in their living room and many of them, like Peter, watch approvingly, listen to Jesus’ teaching courteously, and you know what? I believe that Peter at one level by Luke chapter 5, admired Jesus. He did.

I mean, Peter opened the door to his house to Jesus, but you can open the door of your house without opening the door in your heart. See that? The way that work is, first of all, by the way guys, I don’t think Peter was a bad guy. You know what was Peter? Peter, I would say, he was dreaming the dream of the middle class. He wasn’t rich by any means, but if you’re listening to this passage in Luke chapter 4, he wasn’t a vagabond either, he wasn’t broke, he wasn’t living under a bridge. What do we hear? First of all, he had a family, he had a mother in law, believe me, if you have a mother in law, living with you, you probably have a wife and some kids. Either that or this guy is like the son in law of the year award or something, but it’s a safe bet that he’s got a mother in law, and a wife, he’s got a family. He’s got a house, his own house. Isn’t that the American dream? Let alone the Palestinian dream or the Jews’ dream, it’s the American dream. Have your own house.

And it was big enough to hold …. People at once and he had it… guys, he had his own business. Not only did he have his own business, it went… you’ve got to assume his gig was going well enough that he had a couple of partners. He had a payroll. I see Peter, can’t you see this? I mean, those of you who’ve gone to Gloucester or Rockward, can’t you put Peter there? Fishermen, boats bobbling in the lake. You know, clin, clan, against the moors with this big sign over his pier ‘Peter and Associates, seafood, market rate’. He had his own thing. What more do you want? And that’s the point.

Even with all of this stuff happening in Peter’s house he come to these conclusions: Jesus is an amazing teacher, more than that, he is a maker of miracles. But you ask Peter the key question, Peter, who was the boss over your life? Who sits on the throne? Who calls the shots? This guy Jesus, are you willing to say that he is Lord God, master of the universe and more than that, your King. And by Luke chapter 5, verse 1Peter was not there, not yet. He had not yet had that encounter, that reality had not set.

What did it take? As you read on, “….after Jesus preaches, when he finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out to deep water and let down the nets for catch’. Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night, haven’t caught anything, but because you say so, I’ll let down the nets…..”

Can you picture John and James looking at Peter right now, like, are you kidding me?

“…When they had done so they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. And when Simon Peter saw this he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, -does it say Master, what does it say there?- Go away from me, Lord, I am a sinful man’, for he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken and so were James and John the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners…..”

Let’s stop there. What’s going on here? A couple of nights ago, Peter sees Jesus opening the eyes of the blind. Does he fall to his knees? No. Peter sees paralytics leaving their canes jumping. Does he fall to his knees? No. Peter hears Jesus teaching at his house, on his boat, etc. Does he say, I want to receive Christ today, does he? No. He sees demoniac, these demon possess people that he knows free and declaring by the way, along the way, this is the Son of God, even demoniacs announcing what’s obvious to them. Does he fall on his knees? No. He has a good day on the lake, now he crumbles to his knees. What’s going on here?

You want to know what’s going on? Often the threshold to becoming a disciple of Jesus, the threshold to surrendering your life and following him to wherever he leads is that Jesus has to rock that life.

Guys, if you’ve ever experienced failure, if you’ve ever experienced a setback, if you’ve ever experienced a rip in your existence, that may be, and please I’m not belittleling your life or what you’ve gone through, or the pain, or the loss, or the grieve, but let me tell you something, that is sometimes, that is often the threshold to the greatness of God, the greatest experience, the greatest encounter you can imagine with the Lord happens at that moment.

You see something? Peter is a commercial fisherman, he’s supposed to know this lake. Supposedly he’s the master of the lake, right? I’m not talking about taking out a fishing pole and going for trout some place, I’m talking about people who do this for a living, who fish out in…. off of the course of Gloucester, or the Baring Sea.

Notice a couple of things about them, first of all, rarely do commercial fishermen migrate. They usually fish the same body of water for generations. That’s right, for generations. It’s probably, it’s not even your boat, it’s your dad’s boat or your grandfather’s boat that you’ve inherited and you know this lake, you know the tides, you know the seasons, you measure the wind, you learn the habits of the fish. It’s almost a living being up there.

We go to Gloucester, we see water. A person who works out there, knows every inch of that body of water like the palm of their hands. It’s part art, where you put your nets it’s part art, it’s part science and a great deal of luck. And by the way, on this day Peter came up with nothing which means something. This tells Peter this, you know what? You know who’s in control of your life, in control of your well being? Your life is so tenuous, your life is so fragile that you can go broke because the tides shifted or the fish decide not to bite. You could go broke because you’ve had a bad couple of days on the lake and this should tell you something.

What should tell you this is this: it is a fallacy that any of us are in control of our lives. It’s a fallacy to think that we are masters over our fate. You know, life is a very fragile, very tenuous, very ephemeral experience. And every now and then something happens to us, God wills something to happen to us to remind us how fragile life is. We have bodies that get sick and will one day die. We have marriages that can fall apart, we have businesses, talk to the folks at Baresterns right now, that seem impregnable and can vanish in a minute. We raise children that are cuddly and cute and love us one minute and then a couple of years later you’re thinking, where is this person? What happened to my little girl? What happened to my little boy? Life is fragile.

We’re not in control. We’re not in control. And in that moment on that lake what Peter realized was this: this is what Jesus…. Jesus was telling Peter two things, he was saying two things: number one, Peter, I’m not just some itinerary rabbi who happens to heal a couple of sick. I am in control over the things that control you. I am the Lord over the things, the Lord over you. I am the King of that lake up there. I am the God and Creator of those fish.

And the second thing he’s saying, you know, Peter, you still have an option to turn me down and stay fishing by this lake that you know, where you grew up, where you’re safe, where you’re in control, where you call the shots. You can live out your days on that lake, or you can follow me. But whatever your choice, you know that you’re not just rejecting some little rabi, you’ve now had an encounter with the God who controls your life.

And that brings you to the second thing that makes a person a disciple is that choice. It’s a decision. It’s a decision, it’s a call that you make before you see the results. It’s a call that you make before God shows you the end of the story. It’s a call that you make before things settle.

You see, Jesus in a sense, what he said, how many of you… how would you like it if your favorite uncle shows up to you at work and taps you oin the shoulder and says, I would edit that paragraph a little differently; or some commercial fishermen, fishermen are really sensitive about this. You have someone tapping you on the shoulder and saying, you know, if you put the boat out in the middle of the lake now and pull out, maybe you’ll have a little better luck. Are those not like the most annoying people you’ve ever met? Aren’t they annoying? Especially the preposterous things that Jesus was saying, out in the middle of the lake. Ok, not the shore where fish eat. Ok, in the middle of the day. Oh, that’s a good idea. Right, not in the middle of the night? Not at dawn?

But Peter was saying, you know what? Or rather Jesus was telling Peter this. And this is what he’s telling us, you and me and all of us tonight. You’ve done the best that you could with the information that you have. You’ve thrown all of your experience, all of your emotions, all of your sincerity into the making of your life. It’s not that you’re a bad person. It’s just that you’re doing things your way and you’ve been doing things your way all your life, and you’ve come up with the results that are the natural consequences of the decisions that you’ve made.

Now, do it my way. Even it doesn’t make sense to you, even if it’s just the most ridiculous thing in the world to do what Jesus suggests, in this modern world, in this day and age, the XXI century, actually have the temerity to believe that this is the breath of God and the secret to his mind, to actually believe that in this day and age, and to see this not as a bunch of suggestions, but the code, the manual, the rule book to your existence. Even if what discipleship means even if it makes no sense to me, I’m going to take you up on that Jesus. Even if I have every doubt in the world I’m going to obey. Even if it sound like to, forgive when I know good and well what I want is vengeance, to give when I know good and well what I want is what’s mine, to love when I really don’t feel like loving.

God, these suggestions are ridiculous. Discipleship begins when you cast your net where Jesus tells you to and when he tells you to. And there’s a purpose behind this. And we’ll wrap this up with this. What is Jesus’ agenda behind this when he makes this? What is his hidden agenda? What does he want with you? When he puts this in the scripture, when you read this, when you trip over this, when it offends you, when it cuts into you, when it makes no sense to you, when you want to throw this book up against the wall and say, that’s not for me, what is his agenda? What’s behind it?

And it’s right here. He lays it all out, it’s the same thing he tells Peter, he says:

“when Peter says, ‘go away from me, Lord, I’m a sinful man’, which tells me you got it. You know at least who you’re talking to. The Lord says, “… then Jesus said to Simon, ‘don’t be afraid’…”

And that’s what he’s telling you tonight. “Don’t be afraid to give it all up. Don’t be afraid to trust me. Don’t be afraid to leave behind everything you know, to leave your watch behind, your agenda behind. Don’t be afraid. From now on you’ll catch men.

What does this mean? Peter goes on being Peter, he goes on being a fisherman, only God just takes the essence of who he is and he magnifies it a million times. He takes his character, he takes his mind, he takes his experiences, he takes his failures, he takes his doubts, he takes Peter from Capernaum and transforms him through the life of Jesus into something magnificent, unrecognizable.

When you get to heaven and finally see what God had in mind, when he asked you to take that walk, you’ll never, ever, ever going to doubt that it wasn’t even a choice, it’s a no-brainer, this is a no-brainer compared to what the Lord has for you. in fact, it’s not even a difference between lives as far as I’m concerned. I look back and I’m thinking, was I ever alive before that moment?

And the Lord constantly reminds me, just like he had to remind Peter 3 years later, doing the same thing, near the same lake. You’ve got a different gig you can’t go back to that. You’ll never going to ever, ever, ever again be Mr. Peter fisherman from Capernaum, I’ve called you for something greater. I’ve got bigger plans. I’ve got bigger, there’s something I have written into the code of your life that’s ready to explode, but it is absolutely indispensable that you follow me and that you trust me.

Let’s go to prayer. Praise the Lord. Let’s just come before the Lord. Guys, I want to make something very, very clear: the Lord is preaching to Samuel Acevedo too, he’s talking to all of us tonight. One word that came up a lot on Thursday was commitment. That was a word that came up a lot and then it dawn to me, you know, God’s standard isn’t commitment, it isn’t commitment, it’s discipleship and everything else falls into place, everything else in your life. It’s not that life is going to get any…. It’s not like you’re not going to face challenges, in fact, that’s the whole point. Your challenges are part of the discipleship experience, your challenges are opportunities for the Lord to show you who’s in control. Your challenges are opportunities for the Lord to take this big, bad, scary lake that you’ve been afraid of all your life and the Lord gets up out of his sleep, on the bow of the boat and he says, ‘be quiet, shut, and it obeys’, so the sea knows I’m Master over this sea and these people in this boat are my heirs, they’re my followers, they’re my children, they’re going to share in my Kingdom. I have chosen them. It almost sounds heretical if it wasn’t scriptures, if that’s not what Jesus has for you. He has great plans for you.

Now, let’s come before God and I invite you in the name of Jesus to ask yourself who really is, honestly, in my life running the show. Who’s calling the shots? Is Jesus following me or am I following him? And if you’re not following him, to your satisfaction, you don’t think you’re following him, I invite you tonight, just like Jesus said, don’t be afraid of abandoning what you know, what you love, what you understand to follow Jesus, because only good things are going to come.

Father, we do that tonight in the name of Jesus. We hear you, we want to see what you see, Jesus. We want to see life through your eyes. we want you to interpret the world to us, we want to see the world through your perspective. We don’t want to see the stars the same way, we want to see them the day you created them. We don’t want to see the mountains the same way, we want to see them the way you molded them in your hands. We don’t want to see our love ones the same way, we want to see what you see in them.

Lord, we don’t even want to see ourselves the same way. We want to look in the mirror and see what you see and see the creation, dear God, that you had in mind and become that person for your glory and for your honor so that your name may be exalted in our lives.

Father, if there’s any doubt right now, Father, if there’s anyone standing on that line, standing on the brink, hearing your touch, Lord, in Jesus’ name, Father, that they may leave their boats too and follow you to greatness. We follow you to greatness. We follow you to places that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart can conceive in the name of Jesus.

Sermon delivered by Samuel Acevedo taped March 29, 2008 at Congregation Lion of Judah Listen | View (100K) | View (400K)

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