Jesus & The Urgent Mission - Wellington First Assembly

Wellington First Assembly

326 W Botkin Lane, Wellington Kansas ........Family Faith Lessons - 9:30 AM........ Sunday Worship - 10:30 AM


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Jesus & The Urgent Mission

You’ve all seen the movie.  The villain grins with glee. He has the hostages trapped.  The timer is counting down in the background.  There is no hope of rescue.  Suddenly, the impossible happens.  The hero sweeps in and with milliseconds to spare, saves the day. Another urgent mission successfully accepted and accomplished.

Although the soundtrack doesn’t quite have as much bass, and the tight shots lost longer than two seconds, we get a sense of urgency from Mark’s writings in his gospel.  Last week we looked at the revealing of who Jesus was, during the moment at his baptism.  Today, we look at how Jesus began to collect his closest followers.  What is he doing that causes a few to leave what where they are good and comfortable to join him on his urgent mission.

If you are able, please stand with me as we read aloud together, the passage from the gospel of Mark 1:14-20.

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;[a] repent and believe in the gospel.”
Jesus Calls the First Disciples
16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”[b] 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

What do we know so far?  There is some time between the baptism and this passage.  As you recall, Jesus, immediately after being revealed to the crowded people around the Sea of Galilee, is whisked by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where he engages in hand to hand, mouth to mouth combat with Satan.  The 40 days of temptation, representing the 40 years of the people of Israel wandering in the wilderness, ends with a different result than the first time.  To put in a simple television sports ticker language – JESUS WINS!  JESUS WINS!  JESUS WINS!

Have you ever wondered what happened with everyone else during these 40 days?  There was a whole crowd who witnessed John baptize Jesus, who saw the apocalyptic sign in the heavens, who heard the anointed message.  I would be freaking out!  I would be excited, scared, happy, and confused.  I would want to know more.  And then Jesus disappears for 40 days.  Who is this mystery man?  His disappearance adds to his allure.  He’s all that is talked about.  as the 40 days pass, for some the memory of the experience begins to fade into the background; but for others, it burns in their hearts.  They have responsibilities and work to do, so they continue to listen to John the Baptist teach and continue to fish.

I have a map of the Sea of Galilee.  As you can see, it’s a large body of water.  If you are in the center, it could be hard to sea the land.  This is where our characters of Simon and Andrew, and James and John lived and fished.  Jesus was from Nazareth, a day’s journey to the east. 

There are a few things that we can know about these not quite so simple fishermen.  First, they were not hired hands or unskilled laborers.  Their families owned the boats and the fishing business.  These men, although not by any means wealthy, made an honest living.   The Zebedee family employed other hired hands.  These fishermen, by choosing to follow Jesus as their rabbi, gave up some of the small luxuries available to them.

These fisherman friends had time to talk about what they saw.  During the 40 days that Jesus was gone, they put into place a plan that if they ever saw Jesus again, they would drop what they were doing and accept his urgent mission, even if they didn’t know all the details.  Why would they do that?

1)    Followers of Christ know when time is up.

The soldiers burst through the crowd, rough hands grasping his cloak.  Coarse ropes bound his hands.  Vulgar warnings were hurled at the angry mob to stand back, as the team led John the Baptist away to the dank prison cell.
The people who had embraced the message of repentance preached by John the Baptist melted back into the shadows.  The hope they once had was disappearing.  It seemed like time had run out.  And in that gloom, walked Jesus, filling the vacancy, picking up the mantle of John, but expanding the message ever so more. 

In his next words, he created missional urgency.  “Time is up!” “Fish or Cut bait.” “Decision day.”  Jesus took Johns message of the righteous repentance and made it stronger.  Repent and Believe.  Twin imperatives.  John’s baptism was about repentance and returning to follow God’s laws.  Jesus baptism continued that theme but proclaimed a larger message – that God had paid the price once and for all, for all sin, for all time.

To some, it sounded like a call to revolution, a call to arms.  And in a way, it was, but not one of militant violence, but a call to radical urgent service. Jesus heightened the sense of urgency.  The people were already living in oppression, this seemed like a way out.  Although everyone had a chance to listen to Jesus teach, only a few would be handpicked to get to know him the best, to be the rabbi’s pupils.  Even though some of his disciples were men of some means, they all knew that in those things could easily be lost in seconds, and they wanted more.

“This deep sense of urgency overrode any need for full understanding of what was at stake or even a complete grasp of whom they were following.” 
They would learn on the way.

2)    Followers of Christ repent and believe.

Jesus took up the message of Jonah.  And the disciples responded like the residents of Nineveh. They saw the urgency, they knew time had run out, and in their repentance, they made the decision for whom they would live.

It is in that same sense of urgency that Paul wrote to the people in Corinth that time is running short, that the form of this world is passing away.  The idea is not that we should abandon our families or put our hands in the sand, but that we would be motivated to complete the missional task before us.  The power of the gospel doesn’t just lie in the fact that Jesus died and was resurrected for our sins.  The power comes in discovering that Jesus has asked us to share in his message and actively participate in sharing His power with those around us through our gifts of ministry, prayer, and service.

Those four disciples, Andrew, Peter, James, and John – undoubtedly wrestled with questions and studied scriptures during the 40 days Jesus was away.  They had repented, but the question was, would they believe?

They did.  How do we know that?  Because of their actions.  Our beliefs are revealed by what we do.  Our values are reflected in our character.  Our inner heart is revealed in our conversations.  Praying for change without Acting for change is incomplete.  A coin has no value if only one side is imprinted.  Both must happen.

This weekend is a time where this country honors the actions of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.  Those actions were born out of prayerful beliefs – that all men and women are created equal before an Almighty God.  That all men and women have an opportunity for repentance, and that all men and women can serve in God’s kingdom.  For Dr. King, that was an urgent mission, birthed from the Holy Spirit.  Let me be very clear:  There is no place for vulgar racist or sexist attitudes and actions in the body of Christ.  Jesus calls upon his disciples to repent

3)    Followers of Christ remain ready in active reserve.

One thing we can tell from this passage, these four disciples, had already made up their mind before Jesus returned to Galilee.  They were chomping t the bit, ready to go, keeping their skills sharp.  They had their go bag with them.  They had already given notice.  They were prepared.

While I’ve never had the privilege to serve in the military reserve, I know those who have.  I know during times of disaster or catastrophe, we are grateful to the National Guardsman who are pulled from their regular jobs to assist and rescue those who are in need.

Those reservists didn’t make the commitment the day they were called on for duty.  They made it years prior when they signed up.  They practice monthly to keep their training up to current standards.  They had pre-notified their job sites and made arrangements with their families.

These four fishermen were not shirking their duties or responsibilities when they walked off their job site that day.  They were fulfilling their obligations.
Jesus calls people who are ready and working.

NBA or NFL draft picks are not selected from the random population.  There is a 100% chance I will not be drafted into any professional sports team!  The teams rely on scouts to see if players are keeping their potential sharp.  Jesus is looking.  If you note the verses, it notes that Jesus saw first – then he called.  Be faithful in the little things, and then God will let you do the bigger things!

People have asked me, why isn’t God using me right now.  There are usually one of two reasons.  The first, you are out of shape, you are not prepared.  The second, God is waiting to activate you at the right urgent moment.

These disciples were working at what they knew – fishing.  And when Jesus gave them an opportunity to fish for souls, they were ready and jumped at the chance.

4)    Followers of Christ respond to the call immediately.

This point makes all the difference.  In urgent situations, with the countdown clock ticking, time is of the essence.  This is made explicitly clear when a young man asks if he could be a disciple of Jesus.  Yes, you can, Jesus says.  But then the young man says, I can’t know – I must finish up a bunch of things first.  That man missed the urgency of the gospel.  He didn’t realize the mission had a time limit. 

If you recognize that time is up, if you have repented and believe, if you have remained ready, then it’s a lot easier to follow the call quickly.

Note the difference in the actions, as compared to Jonah.  These disciples got off the boat and accepted the mission from God.  Jonah, got on the boat to escape the mission from God.

It doesn’t matter if you are on the boat or off the boat – as long as you are doing what God has called you to do within the community of believers!

Let me demonstrate what happens when you are activated and follow Christ.  Your ministry expands and overflows.

Is your prayer, “God, if you tell me, I’ll go”
 or is it “Here I am, send me?”

I’ve seen it on the playground and the classroom when teams are being formed.  Were you the kid that was always yelling, pick me, pick me!  Or where you the one saying, ok, if I have to play, I’ll do it.

There’s a big difference between those two prayers.  One is that of reluctance.  The other is that of eagerness.  One understands the urgent mission; the other doesn’t quite comprehend the concept of God’s grace for everyone.

Your mission field may never be overseas.  Your mission field may be right here in town.  The mission has nothing to do with location and everything to do with the willingness of your heart.

Live every day like it’s the last day.

The message of Jonah, the message of the fisherman, the message that Paul spoke to the church at Corinth all revolve around this theme.  Time is running short, so live every day like it’s the last day.

The shrill chime echoed from every buzzing smartphone in the breakfast buffet room.  Every eye stared at the words on the screen.  Time froze.  In a numbed panic, people moved from their rooms, gathered family together and made final phone calls expressing love.  For 37 minutes yesterday, millions of people with no safe harbor thought their time was up as death from nuclear annihilation was all but certain.  Thankfully, it was a false alarm.  But I can guarantee you that people today are shifting priorities and choosing to live life in a different manner.

Jonah didn’t get it, but the called disciples did.  If we truly comprehended how urgent this mission is, would it change how we live?  Would we be more caring, more compassionate, more kind?  Would we not put off restoring those broken relationships we’ve had with past friends?  Would we share the gospel with someone we’ve been reluctant too?

It is time for us to fully follow Jesus, the Man of Mystery and completely accept His Urgent Mission

Shall we pray.