||43 John - Believe:879 - 2009
||Are You a Follower-Really?
Believe:879. How far will you go to find the truth? He is among us.
Would you turn in your Bibles this morning to John chapter one? Let's have a word of prayer together.
Father, we come before Your throne because You alone know everything about us. You know what we think, You know why we think what we think. As David said, You know what we think before the thought even enters our head, before the chemicals come together and form the thoughts. And because that is so, because that is true, we come before You, hiding nothing but praying that you would draw us closer to You and lift us higher in You. Lord, I pray during this holiday season that we as a family of believers would grow closer in love to one another and closer to You. And now, Father, we open our hearts to the instruction that Your Holy Spirit would give through the inerrant Word of God. We thank You that we can study it and apply it. It never gets old. To those of us who know You, we rejoice more and more as we're able to turn open the pages of this Book and make fresh discoveries about who You are and how much You love us. I pray that would be the case this morning. In Jesus' name, amen.
I brought a little book with me this morning. I've had this book since I was a new Christian. Almost, it's almost that old; it's amazing it's holding together. It was given to me by a friend---a mentor at the time---and it made a huge impact on my life. It's a simple title, it's just called Disciple. And that's what I want to talk about today: being a disciple. And it was written by an Argentinean pastor, Juan Carlos Ortiz, and he writes: "A disciple is someone who follows Jesus Christ. But because we're Christians, it does not necessarily mean we are His disciples, even if we are members of His kingdom. In recent centuries, we've been hearing another gospel: a man-centered, human gospel. The gospel of the hot sale. The gospel of the irresistible deal. But all Jesus says to us is, "Follow Me." He doesn't say where or how much He'll pay us. He just gives us the command." So I want to talk about following Jesus Christ this morning because in John's gospel we come to the first use of the word "disciple." It's put in the plural; he uses it twice, in verse 35 and 36. And then he, he even goes further and uses the word "follow" or "followed," three times in our paragraph. So being a disciple, which means a student, a learner, or an intern, you might even translate it, and following Jesus Christ. So the question I ask is: Are you following, are you really a follower of Jesus Christ?
There's a magazine called Leadership magazine and it's for church leaders and there's always cartoons in it that poke fun at us and poke fun at the church and it can be humorous. One that made me smile was a cartoon of a grim-faced preacher and he was interrupted with a little note in the middle of his sermon and so he reads it to his congregation and he said, "We interrupt this sermon to inform you that the fourth-grade boys are now in complete control of their Sunday school class and are holding Miss Mosby hostage." And that's really the problem, isn't it? The real problem is that we aren't so keen on following as we are controlling. Controlling. The idea of surrendering our will to a higher will, a foreign will, an alien will, if you will, is foreign to us. It's against our human nature. The great author G.K. Chesterton once said, "It's not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting, the truth is Christianity has been found difficult and not tried." What did he mean by that? He simply meant that following Jesus isn't always that easy. When you follow Jesus, it's not like everything just goes "awww" down the river of life. It can be very tough. Jesus defined a true discipleship in Luke chapter nine, verse 23 when He said: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me."
How many do you know that do that? Self-denial in our society? Are you kidding me? I mean, this is all about self-indulgence in our culture. Okay, we might deny ourselves during this little recession, but just wait until it's over. And then, "take up your cross"? That sounds painful. And do it daily? Come on, what planet are you from? And so again the question comes: Are you a follower of Jesus Christ---really? Are you really one? Now discipleship, following Christ, comes in different stages. We know that. We come to Him one way and though we remain the same people throughout our journey with the Lord, we change, don't we? We go from glory to glory. We get changed into the image of Christ more and more. There's periods of growth and change. So I'm going to define discipleship. I define it as this: it is a lifelong process of conformity to an alien will. It's a lifelong process of conformity to an alien will. And we'll see that, I think, here.
Now, we get the privilege, in verse 35 down to verse 42, to look at the first three disciples that followed Jesus. They were not originally disciples of Jesus, but disciples of somebody else and they become disciples of Jesus. And so, we're going to look and watch their journey as they start their process of following, and what it implies. And so, this morning I want to give you five characteristics of being a follower of Christ. Five characteristics. And with each characteristic, I'll give you a principle that goes along with it; a summing-up principle. Here's the first characteristic: transition. Transition. Here's the principle: every believer should be a disciple. Every believer should be a disciple. Back to the words of Ortiz in this book, he said, "You might have a lot of Christians, but not all of them are disciples." But every believer should be a disciple.
Verse 35: "Again, the next day, John [that is, John the Baptist] stood with two of his disciples." These two individuals you're about to read were learners, students, pupils, interns of John the Baptist---at first. But watch: "And looking at Jesus as He walked, he [that is, John] said, "[Look! Check it out!] Behold the Lamb of God!" And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus." So this is a transition. John the Baptist is handing off two of his disciples to follow Jesus Christ. The word "followed" means "to follow as a disciple." Akoloutheó is the word. To follow as a disciple. Okay, now these two disciples, these two guys, and I'll tell you who they are in just a minute; one of them is named and one of them is not. They believed in God. They had the hope of a coming Messiah and they were following the teachings of John the Baptist but, though they were followers of God, though they had Messianic hope, though they were following the teachings of John the Baptist, now there's a transition. Now they are told by John to follow completely, wholeheartedly, Jesus Christ. And they followed Him.
And so here's the principle: every believer should be a disciple. No matter what brand of Christian you are, or Christianity you've been brought up with, every believer should be a disciple. Listen to the words of Paul the apostle. He said in 1 Corinthians one: "Some of you are saying, I'm a follower of Paul. Others are saying, I follow Apollos, or I follow Peter." And then he asks, "Can Christ be divided into pieces?" Now we might even add to what Paul said, though I don't want to add to it, really, but we could take John the Baptist and say, "Some are saying I'm following Paul, I'm following Apollos, I'm following Peter, and here, I'm following John the Baptist." But here's the principle again: every believer should be a disciple of Jesus. Okay, let's apply it. You might have, in the body of Christ, some who say, and that's okay to say it, "I'm a Methodist." That's fine. What they're saying essentially is, "I am a disciple of the teachings and lifestyle of John Wesley and George Whitefield. I love the tradition they bring." Nothing wrong with that. Others could say, "Well, I'm a Lutheran." And they're saying in effect, "I'm a disciple of Martin Luther and John Calvin." Others could say, "Oh, but I love the teachings of John MacArthur or Charles Swindoll or Chuck Smith." And all of that is fine but you better be a disciple of Jesus Christ, not just a man, a teacher, or a system. And one of the healthiest transitions is, instead of seeing yourself as an adherent of Calvinism, Arminianism, Smithism, MacArthurism---Jesus Christ. That is a healthy transition. Because those men, those people, those teachers, and those systems are merely discipleship systems meant to point the way to Jesus Christ.
Now, I'll tell you the truth. Any leader knows this to be true. There's always a temptation whether you're a small group leader or a pastor or the head of a denomination, we love people following us. We love it when people say, "Oh, I need you and I learn from you." And we love that kind of dependence; we want to foster this, "Let me lead you and I'll show you what to do." But a healthy thing is seen here in John the Baptist is when we say, "Hey, you've been my disciples---but now be His disciples and follow Him." And that's what John does. He hands them off. They leave his church and they join Jesus. And later on, John the Baptist will say, "I must decrease and He must [what?] increase," and that's exactly what John does. John fades away from the story after this section. You'll only see him pop up once in a little cameo appearance in chapter three. But now it's all about Jesus.
So, it is natural to be drawn to a style of a teacher or a system and that's fine. But it's unhealthy to filter everything, every truth, every experience, through that one little filter or that one little system. So let's stop worshiping those who teach and start worshiping wholeheartedly in following Christ. That's the first principle of discipleship---transition. Every believer should be a disciple.
Here's the second: evaluation. Evaluation. Here's the principle: every true disciple must sift through his or her own motivation for following. Verse 38: "Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, "What do you seek?" They said to Him, "Rabbi" (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), 'where are You staying?'" Now this is the first time Jesus talks in the gospel of John. These are the first red letters if you have a red letter Bible. The first word that John records Jesus ever saying, in fact the first words in Jesus' public ministry, are this. And isn't it interesting the first recorded words are a question; they're not even a statement. He didn't come and say, "Let Me tell you, I am thus and such." First thing recorded is that He asked them a question. He sees them following and He turns around and says, "What do you want?" That's what "what do you seek?" means. "What do you seek?" is an older way of saying, "What do you want?" Now, that question was not given for Jesus' own benefit. It's not like Jesus was asking for information; like He didn't know what they wanted. He was asking it for their benefit. It was meant to be a searching, probing, evaluating question dealing with motivation.
You know what a great study is if you've never done it? Take the time to study in the Bible, on your own, the questions of God. And you'll just discover that when God asks a question, He's not doing it because He doesn't know the answer. He's doing it because He knows the answer but wants you to know the answer, or the person to know the answer, because it's a very deep, provoking statement that He's leading them to. For instance, the very first question is found in Genesis chapter three. Adam and Eve were in the garden; they had just sinned, and remember what it is? God says, "Adam, where are you?" You think God was asking for latitude and longitude? Give Him your GPS setting? He knew exactly where they were but it's a very probing, evaluating question. Meant to provoke thought; meant to deal with motivation.
Now Jesus asked the question, "What are you seeking?" And He will ask several more questions in the Gospels. One of my favorite is Matthew 16. They're all alone up in Caesarea Philippi and so Jesus goes, "Hey, who do men say that I am?" They give Him answers and then He says, "Okay, who do you say that I am?" He wanted them now to get in touch with what they really believed about Him. Here's another question, it sounds kind of odd, Jesus to a paralyzed man in John chapter five, waiting at the pool of Bethesda, he's paralyzed and Jesus comes up to him and says, "Do you want to be made whole?" What kind of a question is that? To ask to a paralyzed guy---hey, you want to get better? It sounds almost like He's mocking him. But He's not; it's a very provocative question. A very pointed question: "Are you sure you want this? Do you know what this could mean if you get better? Your whole identity is wrapped up in what you do now, you're not going to be treated the same; life is going to be very different. Do you want to be made whole?"
Another question He will ask Peter later on, at the end of John's gospel is, "Peter, do you love Me?" And He'll ask him that three times. These are very, very specific questions to evoke an evaluation. So here's what I want to ask you now: Who do you have in your life that will ask you the hard questions? "Oh, I do that myself. I make self-evaluations." That's good; that's a good start. We're told to do that. But who's around you? What accountability person/mentor/partner do you have to ask you deep, provoking questions that will cause you to evaluate and spurn growth? It was Socrates who said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." But I think Paul the apostle said it best in 2 Corinthians 13:5: "Examine yourselves to see if your faith is really genuine." And nothing beats having another person to help you do that. And so Jesus asks the question, "What do you seek?"
How would you answer His question if you were to be honest with Him? This could be the most important question ever. Imagine Jesus turning to you and saying, "Okay, what do you want? What do you seek? Why are you here? What are you after? Where are you going in life?" I wonder how we'd answer that. Some would have to say, "All I want is happiness." Others would say, "All I want is success." Others would say, "Well, I'm here because I want to find a wife or a husband" or "I'm here because I'm lonely" or "I'm here because I want to grow and learn more about You, Lord." It's a good question. It should be asked.
A book that I recommend, if you have never read, is by A.W. Tozer, it's called The Pursuit of God. I've read it several times in my life and it's always a deep, searching book. He writes this: "Complacency is a deadly enemy of spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He wants to be wanted. [Isn't that beautiful? He wants to be wanted.] It's too bad that with many of us He waits so very long and in vain." So they're following Him because John said, "Here's the guy---Follow Him!" And they start following Him and He goes, "What are you seeking?" And the principle is that a true disciple will make honest evaluation of their life, take spiritual inventory. And I would say do it from time to time.
Here's a third principle. Not just transition, not just evaluation, but the third principle is submission. Submission. And here's the principle: true disciples will respond to commands. Let me broaden that: true disciples will respond to Scriptural commands. Look at verse 38, the second part: "They said to Him, 'Rabbi' (which is to say, when translated, Teacher [or exalted one]), 'where are You staying?' And He said to them, 'Come and see.' They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him all that day (now it was about the tenth hour)."
When they asked the question, it's by the way a very unusual conversation, wouldn't you agree? I mean, they meet and Jesus says, "What do you want?" And they don't even respond; they ask him a question: "Where are You staying?" And He says, "Come and see." It's a very unusual first introductory meeting. Now when they said, "Where are you staying?" do you think that they wanted the street address or the apartment number? Do you think they wanted something like "Oh, I live at Box 777 Nazareth"? No. It's a very important word. I don't want you to miss this word. The word "staying" in the Greek language is one that you will find over and over and over again in the book of John. It's a key word to discipleship. It's the word in Greek: menó. It means "abide, or remain, or stay." Staying. It's a key word because in John chapter 15, that's what Jesus describes discipleship with---that word, menó. "Abide in Me and I will abide in you as the branch and the vine abide together and you will, by abiding, bring forth fruit." That's the word for "staying."
"Lord, where are You staying?" So what the disciples are doing when Jesus said, "What do you want?" is they're answering it by saying, "Where are You staying because we'd like to come closer and abide with You and get more information directly from You?" That's what they were asking. They want to hang out with Jesus. They want further instruction. And I love it, Jesus says in verse 39: "He said to them, 'Come and see.'" He didn't give them information. He didn't say, "Okay, go down the street, turn left at the third block, and it's the last house on the right." Instead of information, He gives them an invitation. "Come and see. Check it out." It says, "They came and they saw." Jesus' invitation is met by their submission. Before I get into that, this is what I just want you to look at, right here, this little nugget in this verse, here's a beautiful portrait of discipleship. This is what it's like. You come to Jesus for whatever reason, you're searching, you're lonely, you're hurting, and, and at whatever stage for whatever reason you come to Jesus. But then what happens is you read your Bibles, you start to hear His voice in the Word of God and see Him more clearly, and you move from coming to Christ to abiding in Christ. There's intimacy; there's depth. And I would say Jesus today is bidding us to do that---to abide with Him, to grow close to Him, because nothing will satisfy us like that.
But, I want you to look back at the text. Notice the difference, because there's not much, between what Jesus says and what they did. What Jesus said was, "Come and see." Now notice the next sentence: "They came and saw." What does that tell me? It tells me that Jesus' invitational command was met by their obedience to that command. He said, "Come," they came. He said, "See," they saw. And that's because that's what disciples will do. True disciples will do what He said. True disciples won't go, "Why? Well, tell me where it is first. Maybe I don't want to right now." True disciples will submit. In fact, I'll put it to you more strongly. The real test of a disciple is submission. How can you tell if a person's really a disciple? Real easy. Are they submitting to His commands? That's pretty cut and dry; pretty simple. It's really the proof. In Luke chapter 6, Jesus will say, "Why do you call Me Lord and you don't do the things that I tell you?" Okay, I want to apply that. At some point in following Jesus Christ, at some point in our Christian walk, we're going to have to deal with this concept called "lordship." I know you've heard of that. Lordship. It means He's the boss. It means He gets to call the shots. He's in charge. God isn't our co-pilot. You give Him the keys---He runs the thing. We have to come to grips with this thing called lordship and one of the most beautiful things you could ever say is, "Jesus is Lord." We even sing that in our songs. "I love You, Lord, and I lift my voice."
Fairest Lord Jesus. Awesome Lord. However, there can be, unfortunately, a difference between our formal theology and our practical theology. It can be compartmentalized. What we say we believe and what we really believe can be miles apart. So here's the deal and see if you agree with this. If Jesus is your Lord only on Sunday, but not on Monday, not on Tuesday, not Wednesday, Thursday, not Friday night or Saturday, just Sunday, then is He Lord? If you have to be honest, you'd have to say, "Well, He's one-seventh Lord." He's Lord that day. But the test of discipleship is obedience. It's possible to believe something but really believe something else. I love the story about the little goat who said he was a lion. Of course he was lying---he was a goat. But he said he was a lion because deep in his heart he wanted to be a lion and so he believed that if he could talk and walk and go where lions go, that he'd be a lion. So he practiced every day. First day he decided, "I'm going to learn to walk majestically like a lion." So he would try to have that majestic gait that a lion has in the jungle. Can you picture a goat with that little swishy tail trying to be a lion? He believed that he was doing a pretty good job of it; he was walking like a lion. The next day, he thought, "I got to, I got to get the roar down. I got to learn to talk like a lion." So that pitiful little bleat, he tried to, you know, roar. And it just was horrible, but he thought it was pretty good. So the next day he thought, "Okay, I've learned to walk like lions walk, I've learned to talk like lions talk, if I just now go where lions go..." So the next day at twelve noon, lunchtime, he went where lions went. End of story. End of goat.
Because it's one thing to say you are something when you're not something. And my great concern is those who claim to be Christ followers and have no concept of lordship. So hey, when does the Lord part kick in? Submission. Disciples respond to His commands. That's the third characteristic. Now I don't want you to miss this because we're tempted to miss this. Look at the end of verse 39. Notice in parentheses it says, "(now it was about the tenth hour)." Who cares what time it is? It's funny that this is the first time the disciples see Jesus, the Lamb of God, all of this great stuff---oh, by the way, let me tell you what time it was. And if you ask questions of the Bible, and you should, you should say, "What's this about?" Let me tell you what it's about. First of all, some of your Bibles might say "four o'clock in the afternoon." Disregard that. That's because those particular translators believed that John was reckoning time according to Jewish time, when he's not. He's reckoning it according to a Roman time which was ten o'clock in the morning. Matthew, Mark, and Luke do all of their timing by Jewish time, but John does it by Roman time. And that solves a lot of problems in the gospel. Oh, and by the way, it says, "They [went] where He was staying, and remained with Him that day." If it's four o'clock in the afternoon, there's not much of a day left. If it's ten in the morning, which I believe it was, you've got that day to hang out with Jesus. Okay, but back to the point. Who cares what day it is? Who cares what time it is?
Well, who wrote the gospel? John. Who was the other disciple not mentioned? John. Now you're gonna---I'm giving you a little heads-up. In verse 40, we're told who one of the disciples is: it's Andrew. And you read a little bit later and the third guy is Peter, Andrew's brother. But there's this unnamed other disciple that I submit to you is John because John never names himself. And moreover, he puts the time down. Who cares? John cares. John wrote, "It's ten o'clock in the morning" because John remembered what happened one January morning at ten o'clock---his life changed. One January morning, and it was ten o'clock. John's saying, "I'll never forget it." When he wrote John, it was sixty years after this event, but it was to him like yesterday. "I'll never forget it was ten o'clock. It was ten o'clock. It was the dividing point in my life when I met Jesus Christ and everything changed!" Isn't that beautiful? And it was ten in the morning. Because he wrote it and he experienced it.
Here's the fourth characteristic of discipleship: it is mission. Mission. Here's the principle: disciples want to make other disciples. Verse 40: "One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, 'We have found the Messiah' (which is translated, the Christ)." Now I read that to you like we typically read it, but do you think that he said it like that? Do you think he said it like that? Do you think, having found the Messiah, for 4,000 years every Jewish person's been waiting for the Messiah, and he's convinced Jesus is the Messiah, do you think he went up to him and said, "We found the Messiah. Cool, huh." No he said: "We found the Guy! The Messiah!" The Mashiach of the Old Testament. The M'shee-khah in Aramaic. The Christos in Greek; the anointed One. What an exciting moment, what a wonderful statement: We found the Christ.
"And [verse 42] he brought him to Jesus." Here's what I love about Andrew---he couldn't keep it to himself. He had to tell somebody; that's what disciples do. Disciples want other disciples. So he goes back to his own family, he tells Peter. Just a little hint about Andrew. Every time you find Andrew in the Gospels, you know what you're going to find him doing? Bringing people to Jesus. He was the disciple who found the boy with four loaves and two fish and brought him to Jesus. He's the guy who, in chapter 12, takes a group of Greek seekers and brings them to Jesus. I love Andrew because, unfortunately, he's always known as "Simon Peter's brother." He's in Simon Peter's shadow. Because we all know about Peter, but Andrew we don't think much about. He didn't say much, it seems. He didn't write any books, he didn't preach any great sermons, but he always brought people to Jesus. Beautiful, beautiful story. Mission. And he went first to his own family members. That makes sense. I did that. I did that. Now Peter responded; my family was not quite as apt to do that. I remember it was San Jose, California, it was in July, I had prayed to receive Christ, I was so excited, and I thought---first thought was, "I got to tell my mom and dad. They're going to be so happy because they're so worried about me, they think I'm such a flake and I've gone off the deep end. They're gonna be so thrilled when I tell them I'm a follower of Jesus. I'm gonna tell my brothers---they're gonna be so excited." Boy, was I in for a shock. I told them that I had met Jesus and my parents said, "Oh, isn't that nice?" And my brother said, "What are you, nuts?" And my friends wanted nothing to do with me.
But the greater point I want to make is this: there seems to be almost an automatic chain reaction when a true disciple is pursuing Jesus. He just has to tell other people. He wants to spread the good news and tell people about Jesus. By the way, you know what the word "Andrew" means? It means "manliness." He was no wimp. He was a fisherman, blue-collar worker, worked with his brother and his dad in the Sea of Galilee, he was a man's man and he's bringing people to Jesus. Real men aren't ashamed to tell others about Jesus. And this man was telling his brother about Him. Now, I just mentioned a point ago about the difference between formal theology and practical theology, and how we want to bring them together. As we grow in Christ, we want to bring what we believe in our heads doctrinally, cerebrally, and live practically that. Now, every Christian loves the Gospel. You can ask any Christian, who's a Christian, "Do you love the gospel?" "I love the gospel. I love the story of how God came out of heaven and died for my sins and rose from the dead. I love that!" But a disciple wants to share that. A disciple is never content to go to heaven alone. He wants to spread the news. Mission. That's the fourth characteristic.
Here's the fifth and final characteristic in our paragraph: transformation. Transformation. And here's the principle: disciples don't stay in a rut---they grow. They grow. That means today you're growing and next week you'll be growing and a year from now you'll be growing in Christ. Verse 42: "After he brought him to Jesus." Now look at this: "Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, 'You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be Cephas' (which is translated, A Stone)." Jesus looked at Simon. How did He look at Simon? Or how did He look at Him? We say, "Well, we don't know." Well, actually we do know, because the word is very descriptive in Greek. It means He looked intently; He gazed. You might say He stared at him. How would that feel? First time you meet Jesus: "Hey Jesus, how you doin?" You could translate it, "Jesus saw right through Peter." Let me tell you what's going on. Jesus sees Peter as he is, but He also sees Peter as what he'll become. As what he'll become, not just who he is now, but what he will become when he is transformed and changed. Notice the wording: "You are Simon...you shall be Cephas." Which is Aramaic for Petros in Greek: or a small stone or a rock. Now, Simon was his birth name; that's what his dad and mom called him. Simon. Everybody called him Simon. Jesus meets him and says, "I'm renaming you. You get a new name---you get a Jesus name. Rocky. You're a chip off the old rock." Now, if you know Peter, and most of you do, you know the stories about Peter, this was not his personality. He wasn't rock solid at all. He was---maybe sandy would have been a better term for him. He shifted like sand through his whole life, right?
Because you remember Matthew 16? He was the guy who said, he got the answer right: "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." But then right after that, when Jesus said He was going to be betrayed in Jerusalem and die, Peter steps forward and goes, "Uh. No way, Lord. That's not going to happen to You." And Jesus says, "Get behind Me, Satan." He goes from getting an "A" on the test to flunking it. He goes from being Rocky to Sandy. That was his whole life. On the Mount of Transfiguration, remember the story? Jesus is transfigured with Moses and Elijah? Remember which disciple was the first one to talk? Peter. Remember what he said? Something really, really profound. Ready? Peter sees it and goes, "It is good that we are here." What is that? Duh. "Yep, this is cool." Then he goes, "Let's build three condominiums, right here, right now." Tabernacles is the Bible word. "One for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." And God has to interrupt him and say, "This is My beloved Son, listen to Him." In other words, "Shh, Peter."
In the garden of Gethsemane, who was it that tried to defend Jesus with a sword? Peter. Aren't you glad he was a fisherman not a swordsman? I know he was trying to cut off his head; he missed and got his ear. That was Peter. And on the rooftop in Joppa, Acts chapter 10, Peter's there and he sees a vision of a sheep being led down from heaven with four-footed beasts and the Lord gives him a commandment: "Peter, rise, kill, and eat." And in his sweet submissive tone, Peter goes, "Not so, Lord." Not so, Lord?! Again, Peter, when does "Lord" kick in? But that was Peter over time before he became what Jesus anticipated he would become---rock solid. He was sandy until he became rocky. Now it took a long, long, long time. But aren't you encouraged by that? Aren't you encouraged by the fact that when Jesus looks at people, He sees the potential? He just doesn't see us for who we are, He knows that, but He sees what we'll become. You are this but you will be that. That's transformation. That is transformation.
Because what happened to Peter? Well, he became a leader in the early church. He became the author of two New Testament epistles. He became the source for the gospel of Mark. He preached on Pentecost and he had such a rock solid faith and rock solid commitment that he was crucified upside down and did not deny his Lord. Appropriately named the rock. Jesus anticipated that. So that's transformation. Disciples don't stay in a rut---they grow. And I'm glad that Jesus knows what I'm becoming and I love that process. I want to close with something right out of this book again, Juan Carlos Ortiz, because I think it sums up everything we've been saying this morning. In this paragraph, the author is referring to the words of Jesus when He said in the book of Revelation, "I wish that you were cold or hot and not lukewarm because if you're lukewarm I'll spew you out of My mouth." And so the author writes this: "Excuse me for this illustration but it comes from Jesus Himself. What things do we vomit? There are things that we won't digest. If something is digested, it doesn't come back up. Vomited people are people to refuse to digested by the Lord Jesus Christ and digestion means getting lost. You're finished---your life ends. You're transformed into Jesus. You are unmistakably associated with Him. Here in Argentina, we have very good steaks. Let's imagine that the steak comes to my stomach and the gastric juices come along to dissolve it and they say to the steak, "Good evening, how are you?" And the steak replies, "Fine. What do you want?" And they say, "Well, we have come to dissolve you---to transform you into Juan Carlos Ortiz." And suppose the steak says, "No, wait a minute. Now it's enough that he ate me but to disappear completely? Ah, no. I'm in his stomach but I want to stay steak. I don't want to lose my individuality. I want to maintain my steak citizenship." So there's a fight. And suppose the steak wins and the gastric juices let him remain a steak in my stomach. Very soon that steak will be vomited out, but if the gastric juices win the fight, the steak loses its personality and becomes me." And then he puts in parentheses: "Before I ate the steak it was an unknown cow behind the hill. Nobody paid any attention to it but now, because it is dissolved, it gets to write a book." I leave that with you to think about.
The more you are dissolved into Christ and lose you and become dominated by an alien will, the more useful you will become to God's kingdom.
Heavenly Father, we want to be followers. We are called to be followers. We are called to be disciples, learners, interns, students, pupils. All marked by what we read today. Transition: all of us being Your disciple. Evaluation: as we sift through our own motives for what we do and why we do it. Submission: obeying Your commands. Mission: telling others how they can become disciples. And transformation: Your promise that we will not remain the same. In Jesus' name, amen.