I thought I’d try putting the basic sermon points, outlines, etc., on our site, after we preach them, during our series on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). The main idea that I wanted to convey from this passage (that actually falls right before the Sermon the Mount) is that to be faithful follower of Jesus Christ, and to be able to make personal application of the Sermon on the Mount, there are some decisions that a disciple must make, and be making!
1. He/she must have repented, and continue to live a life of repentance. (4:17) There must be a fundamental shift in how one views themselves, life, Jesus, etc., in light of the marvelous opportunity to actually enter into His kingdom. The one-time repentance that often accompanies faith is just a start. Faithful citizens of this Kingdom become experts at rethinking and challenge both their ideas AND their behaviors. I don’t see much of a case for saying that genuine repentance exists if one of the two are missing, since a person always acts in accordance to what they believe, even if only at that moment of action.
2. He/she must become increasingly identified as a follower of Jesus. (4:19) Through a process that occurred over a course of months prior to this account in Matthew’s gospel, Peter, Andrew, James and John became increasingly close to Jesus, and made increasingly significant decisions to spend time with Him, learn from Him, and finally, to receive His calling to be apostles. They became known as belonging to Him; by their families, their village, their synagogue, and their co-workers in the fishing industry. Followers of Jesus today can decide to identify themselves with Jesus through their behavior, their speech, and the way they prioritize life around His interests and purposes, as revealed in Scripture, instead of their own.
3. He/she must simply obey Jesus. (4:20-21) These men “immediately” left nets, boats, and a father when Jesus simply said, “Follow Me.” There is no doubt as to what the phrase meant, particularly in the culture of the ancient middle east. To “follow” someone as a disciple was to increasingly pattern and plan one’s life around the teaching of that person, largely through imitation of the teacher’s behavior and attention to the teacher’s words. Obedience was assumed in the disciple-teacher relationship. A follower of Jesus today is marked not by his/her theological insights or academic titles, nor by their bumper stickers or tattoos, but by the degree to which they simply, immediately obey Jesus when He tells them what to do. Obedience is also the way a disciple demonstrates love for Jesus! (John 14:21)
4. He/she must seek a life of learning from Jesus at every opportunity. (5:1-2) The Sermon on the Mount was preached in front of a large crowd, but it was preached TO those disciples who gathered themselves around Jesus for His instruction. It seems to me today that we followers of Jesus often are more motivated to teach other believers than we are to learn from Jesus through drawing close to Him to listen to His Word. Have you ever been to one of those “bible studies” where everyone seems more interested demonstrating the wealth and depth of their own knowledge and ideas, instead of humbly listening and learning to the Word of God as it is being shared? But this isn’t really about going to a bible study, or church, or learning the complexities and variations of theology–it is about drawing close to Jesus to learn. What has he been teaching you lately? A faithful disciple never stops learning!
So there are four areas to think over this week, regarding our relationship to Jesus as His disciples: Repentance, Identification with Him, Obedience to Him, and Learning from Him.
Thanks! Pastor Ken