So Jesus calls Peter and Andrew and James and John to follow Him.Every parent hoped that their sons would attach themselves to a Rabbi and learn about the first five books of the Bible – the Law.And usually you would go to a Rabbi a teacher and he would put you through an exam and he would either accept you as a student or reject you.If he accepted you walked behind him for a year or two.You would take his yoke on you which was his teaching,and so as you walked behind the Rabbi on dusty roads, you were said to have the dust of the Rabbi on you – literally.Thought you’d find that exciting!
Peter and Andrew and James and John may have already tried to follow a Rabbi and were rejected so they are back fishing.The Rabbi Jesus comes along and says follow me and I will teach you how to catch people who are drowning.Note He doesn’t run a test on them He doesn’t check them out to see if they are worthy or know enough, he just says, follow me.They will have the dust of the Rabbi Jesus on them.He will teach them by word, mostly parables and by action.How he relates to people.
And he says to themIt’s no big deal.It’s not learning all the laws and the interpretations of the law.Instead He says:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”Matthew 28-30
So they follow Him,to discover and rescue, to save, those who are drowning.And while the religious experts surround themselves with rules and regulationshe removes them.
When the religious people saywe don’t touch lepers, He says, I do.When the religious people say – we don’t heal on the Sabbath He says – God does and so do I.When the religious people and the angry and bitter say:When God’s Messiah comes we will finally be able to keep what is ours and those nasty non-believers will be destroyed.He says – these non-believers often have more faith in God that you do so love them and ask Good to bless themand leave all judgment to God because only God will get it right.And don’t seek revenge on them.Be like God and love them.
When John the Baptist says:What’s all this I hear about you eating and drinking.He says, where I am, there is always a party!
When they say: What’s that woman doing being taught by you?He says, why not – she is in the place I want her to be.
When they said, we do not talk to women in public,he says, she has a bucket for the well, and I don’t, and I’m thirsty.
When they say – we don’t eat meals at a tax collectors house He says – but love does and where love goes people experience salvation.
When the self-righteous ask his verdict on a woman adjudged a sinnerhe responds – I don’t condemn you, nor do I condone you,I just love you. I’ll sort it out with God. You’ll be O.K., in the meantimejust keep away from religious people.
And He tells storiesa shepherd goes into the wilderness to find and carry home a lost sheep and He says, God is like that.A father who allows himself to be humiliated in order to restore his two sons.And He says, God is like that.A woman who loses a coin and searches until she finds it, and He says God is like that woman.
And because of the things he says and the things He does people begin to breathe easy as complicated religious codes and practices are lifted off of them.
He takes the first five books of the Bible and reduces them to two ways of living 1. Love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength and 2 Love your neighbour as you love yourself.Which I suggest is what salvation is.The freedom to love even as God is Love.
Why is it salvation?Firstly because love casts out all fear. When you live in love you are never afraid.You can never be taken advantage of.You can never be used.
When you live in lovejoy peacepatiencefaithfulnesskindnesshumilityself-controlflow from you.You are patient and kind; never jealous or conceited or proud; you are not ill-manneredor selfish or irritable; you do not keep a record of wrongs; you are not happy with evil, you are happy with the truth. You never give up on another; and your faith, hope, and patience never fail.Now these are all one to one,person to person.
The Jesus way of life is salvation from sin. Sin being all that falls short of the standard of God’s love.
And so the religious people say He must die because He is destroying true belief.And they hand Him over to be crucified and they sayNow we have won and He says – and I still love you.And he dies.But love is stronger than death so strong that in the power of God’s love He rises from the deadand love wins.
And so it is his disciples called ‘loved your neighbour as yourself’, the royal law.And The apostle John looked at Jesus and said: in this light, we know: God is love and in Him there is no darkness.And the apostle Paul was told of Jesus and he took an obscure word for love, agape, and redefined it in the light of Jesus.
And when brutal Imperial Rome declared:There is no other name in heaven or earth by which people can be saved other than the name of Caesar,this little group of loving disciples met around a table of bread and wineand declared, actually – true salvation is found in no other name than the name of Jesus. And having been saved from selfishness they set out to love as their Rabbi had taught and showed them.
The call is still the same today, Jesus still calls – follow me and I will teach you to rescue people who are drowning.
That’s why we run a lifesaving station from these buildings 6 days a week. This is why we bring our offerings week by week to ensure there are staff and services availableto rescue the lost.That’s why we keep the food-bank full.That’s why we run Hatch and youth group to give hope and provide a place of sanctuary.
And when the world says – you are being taken advantage of we say – love can never be taken advantage of.
And the more self, dies in us, that others may have hope so the more we experience true salvation the freedom to be as graciously over flowing in love as God is.And it seems then that when our bodies die this love in us continues and raises us up to new life in God.Love Divine all human loves excelling.
Would you like to share in our purpose and mission? We believe that good relationships, open discussion and a genuine desire to seek God’s calling allows us to grow as people and a community together.