“As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector's booth.” Follow me," Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.” (NIV) Mark 2:14
At some point in each person’s life they are summoned by God to come and follow Him. Everyone get an opportunity at some point to make a choice, even if they do not understand exactly that it is Jesus!
No matter what is going on in their life, something will begin to draw them to God (good). Even if they do not know it is God at first, they will feel drawn to something good.
People can get more than one chance to follow God. However as we all know, it is risky business, to not take the call the first time. Once someone understands the concept of the choice between themselves doing what they want and following after God; once they understand that concept, and they are finally faced with a choice of “yea” or “nay”, that is it! There is not second chance. No second chances in the sense of: there is going to come a point in everyone’s life when they are going to get ask that question again, and they aren’t going to be able to make up for everything they missed and they won’t. They can turn around, but what they missed, they missed.
If a person understands the concept just explained, then they must follow God to the best of their ability with whatever tools they have in their possession now they make that decision. Now, if they decide to follow God, and then they wake up one day and start doing their own thing again, then God will remind them they are not follow through with “their” word! Once you realize you are not, if you continue to go the wrong way it is just as though you never made the right choice to begin with! You will miss out on that portion of your calling, so long as you are not following God and you know better. When you know better, you are responsible for it.
"That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (NIV) Luke 12:47-48
What Is Your Excuse?
57 “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."
58 “Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
59 “He said to another man, "Follow me."
But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."
60 Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
61Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family."
62 Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." (NIV) Luke 9:57-62
Notice, Jesus did not say to this man, follow me, therefore he did not know what he was getting into. This was a volunteer offer. The difference between volunteer and genuine discipleship is clear.
Loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your understanding and with all your strength - is a total and complete reliance, submission, and desire to let God develop you totally. It is beyond bowing down to God – it is totally a bond slave!
The second man, Jesus called to, “Follow me.” Man was bound by legal ordinances. At this moment, nothing can come between Jesus and the person he called. Not even the law! Why? Because it is a barrier to discipleship. Only Jesus can speak in this fashion against the law.
There is a difference between the first man and the third. This man was not called at this time either. This man was very bold, he tried to stipulate his own terms right up front. Immediately he has put a barrier between him and Jesus. Discipleship appears to be to him a possibility which can only be realized when certain conditions have been filled. Thus, reducing discipleship to the level of human understanding.
Discipleship can tolerate no conditions which might come between Jesus and our obedience to Him!
The call to follow implies that there is only one way of believing/trusting on Jesus Christ, and that is by leaving all and going with the incarnate Son of God.
Discipleship is not an offer man makes to Christ! It is only the call which created the situation.
The Great Banquet
“When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God. Jesus replied: A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, “Come, for everything is now ready.” But they alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.” Another said, `I have just bought five yokes of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me. Still another said, `I just got married, so I can't come. The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, `Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.' "`Sir,' the servant said, `what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.' "Then the master told his servant, `Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. (NIV) Luke 14:15-23
God gets upset with people who are so busy being self-sufficient or fulfilling their life programs, that they spurn salvation.
The Cost of Discipleship
“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters -- yes, even his own life -- he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, `This fellow began to build and was not able to finish. Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (NIV) Luke 14:25-35
The theme of these verses is not alienation from one’s family, but the cost of discipleship, nothing not love for father, mother or even one’s own life is to take precedent over loyalty to God and His Messiah.
We must renounce all we have, v.33-acknowledging that if God is to be primary in our life, possessions, and even social relationship, in and of themselves must be secondary.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. (NIV) Matthew 16:24-2
Back to the Rich Young Ruler
“Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." "Which ones?" the man inquired. Jesus replied, "`Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,' and `love your neighbor as yourself.'" "All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?" Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.” (NIV) Matthew 19:16-22
The Call Goes Forth
The call goes forth and is at once followed by the response of obedience. The response of the disciples is an act of obedience, not a confession of faith in Jesus.
According to our text, there is no road to faith or discipleship, no other road - only obedience to the call of Jesus. Therefore, Levi leaves immediately, not knowing where he is going, not knowing what is coming down the road for him. Not knowing anything, except for just one thing, “I have to do this, I just know I do!” Besides Jesus calling to him, nothing has any significance. He alone matters.
Discipleship means adherence to Christ, and, because Christ is the object of that adherence, it must take the form of discipleship.
When we are called to follow Christ, we are summoned to an exclusive attachment to his person. The grace of his call bursts all the bonds of legalism. It is a gracious call, a gracious commandment. It transcends the difference between the law and the gospel. Christ calls, the disciple follows: that is grace and commandment in one.
For it is written:
“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. (NIV) Psalm 119:45
Scriptures on Following
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19
‘Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (NIV) Matthew 16:24
‘He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. (NIV) Mark 5:37
“And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;” (NIV) Mark 16:17
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (NIV) John 10:27
“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” (NIV) John 12:26
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