It seems like this week has been a week of reflection. As most of you know, I have been blogging for almost three years. What is a blog, you ask? A blog or weblog is a website that allows a person to share thoughts, pictures, videos, or other things. Some use it as a business tool. While others use it for personal thoughts and there are blogs everywhere in-between. My writings range from personal thoughts to devotional thoughts to updates about the ministry. This week of reflection started on Sunday night as I posted my thoughts about the day – which ranged from what happened at church, to the cold weekend, to the Eagles losing to the Cardinals. On Monday morning, I post a video from a song that has been speaking to me lately. The song I posted this week was Nichole Nordeman’s “Legacy.” The lyrics speak to what life really comes down to at the end.
I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy.
This week was a huge week in the life of our country. We inaugurated a new president on Tuesday. On Wednesday, we commemorated the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. There was the annual pro-life march in Washington. These events are now history. These events are now making our history. One of the things that we need to realize is that we are always making history.
During the election, Pam was very sick. When she finally felt a little better, she watched a program on the History Channel about our presidents. Throughout the course of our country’s history we have had notable presidents and presidents who after their presidency, faded into obscurity. What will be the legacy or our current president? It really remains to be seen. I encourage you to pray for him. He has a tough job – he has many critics – he will make unpopular decisions – he is not perfect – who of us is. There are already some decisions he has made that I do not support. As I pray for him and his team, I pray that the right thing will be done, not the right thing for the party or the country, but the right thing in the sight of God. Last week in Sunday School, the key verse was, “O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” That is my prayer for President Obama.
Here’s the point – only history will be able to tell the story or legacy if you will of this White House administration. Will it be a famous story or will it be an infamous story? Only history will tell.
Most of you know the story of Jonah. Here was a prophet of Israel. God came to Jonah and told him to go to the people of Nineveh and tell them that God was bringing His judgment on them. Jonah decided to go the opposite direction. Let’s just say that there was no love lost between Israel and Nineveh. Niveveh was a journey over land. Jonah decided to get into a boat and head for Tarshish, which is somewhere in present day Spain. It wasn’t long before God had a plan to change Jonah’s mind. God sent a terrific storm that threatened to sink the ship. The short story is that Jonah was thrown overboard and the storm calmed. Not too long after that, Jonah was swallowed by a big fish. Jonah was in the belly of the big fish for three days, before crying out to the Lord to save him. When he did, God caused the big fish to vomit Jonah onto dry land. Jonah 3 tells us what happened next.
1 Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: 2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.”
3 This time Jonah obeyed the Lord’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all. 4 On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” 5 The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.
God was pleased that the people reacted as they reacted and changed what was about to happen – he decided to let them live. Jonah 3:10 tells us:
10 When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.
Now, you would think that Jonah would be please with this. God had offered Jonah a second chance at life after disobeying a command. The Ninevites were being offered the same second chance. Jonah sat outside the city awaiting the destruction and the destruction never came. He even got mad at God for being a God of compassion. The story of Jonah ends abruptly – Jonah left outside the city after getting a reprimand from God. Jonah could have had a wonderful legacy. In fact, despite the fact that Jonah originally disobeyed God, he could have still turned it around. Unfortunately, Jonah was not able to extend the grace, mercy and compassion that was given to him by God to the people of Nineveh, so he just sulked and had a pity party. This is an example of leaving a legacy that wasn’t as good as it could have been.
Can we find a better example of leaving a legacy? One place that can be found is in Mark 1:14-20:
14 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
16 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 17 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 18 And they left their nets at once and followed him.
19 A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. 20 He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men.
What was the legacy of Jesus? Jesus was preaching God’s Good News. What was that? It was that the time that God had promised was here – the Kingdom of God is near – repent of your sins and believe the Good News!
Jesus was obedient to the Father through the incarnation. Jesus came to give us life when we repent of our sins and we believe the Good News that Jesus came – Jesus died for our sins– Jesus rose to give us victory over our sins – Jesus ascended – and Jesus is coming back again for those who are living the life God has called us to live. It’s interesting – Jesus is the Good News. Jesus left an enduring legacy.
So what about the rest of this passage? Jesus starts calling his disciples. In the culture of the day, each teacher (Jesus was considered a Rabbi, which means teacher) had an inner group of disciples – those who lived, ate, and breathed with their teacher. Jesus is beginning to select men that he will spend the next three years investing, rebuking, and teaching. The purpose of selecting these disciples was so that Jesus’ legacy could be continued. On this particular day, Jesus was walking along the Sea of Galilee. He sees Simon (whom we also know as Peter) and his brother Andrew. He calls out to them to follow. Peter and Andrew were fishermen. They were earthy men. They lived off the sea. They were uneducated men – probably learning the trade from their father. Fishermen probably weren’t high on up on the social ladder of the day – and yet Jesus picks two fishermen to be his disciples and to carry on His legacy. Not only that, but just a little bit down the shore, he picks out two more fishermen – James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Their nicknames were “The Sons of Thunder.” They were loud and boisterous men. They were prone to disagreement. These are the people in whom Jesus entrusted his legacy? The rest of his picks weren’t much better. If we were to look at the disciples one by one, we would see that they were ordinary people like you and me. Here’s the kicker – Jesus called them anyway. Here is where we can find a real contrast between Jonah’s story and his call and the call of the disciples. Jonah was a prophet – he was called by God to speak the word of the Lord. He had already been called and yet when God gave him a specific command he went in the opposite direction.
Then there are the disciples – Peter, Andrew, James, and John. These men were called by Jesus and at least as this scripture records it, they immediately left their nets and followed Jesus. Think about what that means. The only thing these four fishermen knew was fishing. But did you notice how Jesus called them. Jesus said come follow me and I will make you fishers of people. Jesus came down to their level and called them into ministry. Who knows the financial risks that the disciples took to follow Jesus and yet they did. Were the disciples perfect? No the Bible tells us they weren’t. It was only after they were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost that God worked in mighty ways through them. They weren’t even perfect then, but these men were willing to be used by God. They were so willing to be used by God that all but two of the twelve disciples died a martyr’s death. Spending time with Jesus had radically transformed them.
Before Jesus left this earth, he gave his disciples some very specific instructions about the legacy they were to live. These instructions come to us this morning. 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The legacy that Jesus wants us to leave is that of making disciples. It is not our job to simply go out and make converts and then baptize them. That does not end our responsibility – our responsibility continues – we are to teach them to obey (and that involves discipline) all the commands that were given to us by Jesus. The reason we can do that is that Jesus is with us through the power of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were radically transformed at Pentecost. God desires to radically transform our lives as well. We can see that history speaks well of the disciples. Several of them wrote parts of the New Testament and the Good News was shared throughout the Roman Empire. They had a sense of urgency in sharing the Good News. We don’t always share that urgency. I wonder what it was. Paul gives us an idea in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31:
29 But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with wives should not focus only on their marriage. 30 Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. 31 Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.
Let me put it this way, Paul was encouraging the Corinthians church to focus as much as they could on making disciples, because the time was short. If time was short in the 1st Century, how much shorter is it today? Each believer has been commanded to follow the Great Commission. We are called to be a light to the world that is in the midst of the darkness. We are not called to curse the darkness, but to light a candle. For those of you who are called by God, how will history write your story? Will history be kind to you? Or will history forget about you?
Our challenge today is to go make disciples – go light our world.