The Calling To Walk With Jesus Sermon – Matthew 4:18-22
(Above is the original audio from the sermon on February 27th, 2022. Audio quality is a bit volatile.)
Today I am going to share a bit about what it means to walk with Jesus. We will see 4 aspects of walking with Jesus. Our passage today will be from:
Matthew 4:18-22 – While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
I. Walking With Jesus Means Action (Active Lifestyle)
It is estimated that in Jesus’ earthly ministry He walked about 3150 miles (5000 KM). That is almost the same distance as it would be to walk all the way across China from the West to East. When you read the gospels, you see that Jesus led a very active lifestyle. He was constantly teaching, healing, traveling, or spending time praying.
Mark 3:20-21 – Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
Here, Jesus’ family thought He was out of His mind because He was busy serving other people to the degree that He didn’t even have time to eat.
Luke 9:58 – And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
Jesus did not come to live a life of comfort or luxury. He didn’t stay in 5 star hotels. Much of the time He did not even have a proper place to lay His head.
When Jesus called these four fishermen, He called them to a life of a work. Joining Him in these travels was not going to be easy. These were men already accustomed to hard work, but in many ways the life Jesus called them was more difficult. He didn’t say, “Follow Me and you will have a life of ease.” He didn’t say “Follow Me and watch while I do all the work.” They were going to be involved. As they went with Jesus, they would share in His hardships. He would give them many responsibilities. As He had no place to lay His head, so they would not either.
So walking with Jesus means an active lifestyle. The word “walk” or a form of it occurs around 400 times in the Bible. The implication is clear. The Christian life is to be an active one. We are not just resting or relaxing.
Hebrews 4:9-11 – So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
We see here that there is a Sabbath rest. We studied about that in Revelation as we learned about Jesus’ second coming. But we are not just to be waiting around for Him to come and set everything right. That rest is not now. It is in the future.
This year is not a year for resting.
We are not to be passive. We are not be sitters. We are to walk with Him.
1 Peter 1:13 says to “prepare your minds for action.”
Application: Are you living an active Christian life? The disciples left their homes. They got out and walked great distances in order to be with Jesus and minister with Jesus.
Let’s make this really practical. I am concerned about what Covid is doing to the church, not just worldwide, but here. We praise God that we can meet online on Zoom. But this is not a replacement for face to face meeting. Online church can be very passive and very relaxing. You can wake up and from the comfort of your warm blanket turn on Zoom, screen off, and listen to the message. How helpful is that spiritually? It is easy, but easy doesn’t normally help us grow.
My challenge this morning as we learn to walk with Jesus is to be active. Join a Bible study group. Jesus calls us to an active lifestyle.”
In the New Testament period when the church was growing like wildfire, it met in homes. That close-knit fellowship provided accountability, encouragement, and stimulated growth.
Ask yourself this question. Which which help you grow more, staying at home or going to a Bible study group? God’s Word says that we reap what we sow. The more we invest in our spiritual growth, the more results we will see.
One thing about people in this country is that they are normally quite fit. They are far healthier than most Westerners, where obesity is a big problem. Why? They walk. They are active. Elderly people are out everyday in my complex, just walking and exercising.
Exercise your spiritual muscles by going to a Bible study group.
II. Walking With Jesus Means Going In the Same Direction
“Immediately they left their nets and followed him.”
Jesus had already begun His ministry. His calling, His path were set. He then called the disciples to join in with Him. That meant that they had to change direction. They had to give up what they were doing, their own path, their own plans, and join in with Him.
And they did this immediately.
So walking with Jesus requires a change of direction. They were fishermen. Now they would go and be fishers of men. They were in their own comfort zone, doing what they had grown up doing and were familiar with. Now they would be leaving that to venture into the unknown. While they didn’t know what they would face, they did know who they would face it with. ‘
Going with Him means giving up something. What do you need to give up in order to walk with Jesus under His leadership?
1. Sin – A lot of people like to try to put one foot in God’s kingdom and one foot in this world. They like to feel the peace of being part of God’s family and joining church and the safety of thinking they have eternal life. At the same time, they like to keep their own lifestyle. Some things in their lives they don’t want to give up. They are enjoying the world too much.
Does Jesus welcome all kinds of people to walk with Him?
The answer is “yes,” Jesus does welcome all kinds of people.
No matter what kind of sinner you are, Jesus will welcome you. No matter what sin you have done, Jesus is happy to have you as His follower. He let the tax-collectors, the prostitutes, and all the lowest sinners in society become his followers. But He did not welcome their sin or allow them to follow Him without changing their lives. To walk with Him we must repent of sin, change direction.
2. Your way of life (job) – All the disciples had known was fishing. It was their job. It was their livelihood. They grew up next to the Sea of Galilee. It is likely that they learned fishing from their own fathers. They were good at it. Fishing was the way that they took care of their families. I lived near the ocean in the US and knew a family of fishermen there. The father was a captain of a boat and took people out to fish. He loved it. And his sons grew up loving it. You are immersed in nature without a building in sight. For them to give up fishing and pursue a different career would be unimaginable. Fishing was part of their identity.
But the disciples were willing to give it up to follow Jesus. Following Jesus changed their identity, the very direction of their lives. It meant being surrounded by people instead of being surrounded by water and nature. It meant giving up their source of income and their security. How could they make money following Jesus? How could they take care of their families? They probably didn’t have the answers, but they believed in Jesus and followed Him anyway.
Application: What in your life do you need to give up in order to follow Jesus? Is Jesus in first place in your life or is your career? Do you need to turn down some job offers in order to make sure God is taking the priority in your life that He should? Perhaps you need to say, “no” to taking jobs on Sundays so that you can spend that time worshiping the Lord. Perhaps you need to say, “no” to a lucrative opportunity because it is in the gray area of the law and is not 100% legal. As you walk with Jesus, you need to consider if He is in the lead or if you are in the lead.
3. Yourself –
Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Following Jesus meant denying themselves. Here is a possible job advert describing the job the disciples were going to do:
- LONG HOURS!
- LOTS OF OVERTIME!
- MUST BE WILLING TO WORK ON WEEKENDS!
- MUST BE ABLE TO TRAVEL OFTEN!
- MUST BE WILLING TO ACCEPT THE CHEAPEST MODES OF TRAVEL, GENERALLY BY FOOT, FOR LONG DISTANCES!
- POTENTIAL THREATS FROM THIEVES AND SOLDIERS!
- WILL NOT PAY FOR HOTELS!
- SLEEP WHERE AND HOW YOU CAN, SOMETIMES OUTSIDE IN THE ELEMENTS!
- POLITICAL CLIMATE IN COUNTRY IS DANGEROUS!
- PERFORMING JOB WILL PUT YOUR LIFE IN DANGER!
- YOU WILL BE EXPOSED TO PUBLIC RIDICULE AND PERSECUTION!
- COMPENSATION: NO PAY!
- NO INSURANCE!
- NO PENSION!
- NO HOUSING FUND!
- NO PAID VACATION!
- QUALIFICATIONS NEEDED: COMPLETE OBEDIENCE. DENY YOURSELVES AND OBEY THE BOSS COMPLETELY IN EVERY AREA!
How does this job sound to you? You are all in a hurry to line up and apply? The last part of the job advertisement goes like this: Benefits: Learn face to face from the Creator of the world. Become friends with the King of Kings. Discover real joy. Gain a new purpose in life. Eternal life. The costs of this job are high, but the benefits are worth it. Will you deny yourself and follow the Lord?
Amos 3:3 – How can two walk together unless they are agreed?
Walking along with someone implies that you are going in the same direction. If one person is going north and the other is going south, it’s not going to work. And if one is going due north and the other is going two degrees east of due north, you can maybe walk together for a while, but sooner or later you will have to split.
Walking with Jesus means that we agree with Him about our life direction. We submit everything we have to Him. Our plans. Our careers. Our relationships. We come to agreement with Him and say, “Lord, you way is best.”
Application: Does your life need a change of direction? Are you walking with Jesus or going your own way and then asking Him to come along and bless you and prosper your plans?
III. Walking With Jesus Means Fellowshipping
Jesus’ call to the disciples was a call to a relationship. He often taught the crowds. He often saw and healed the sick. But that was different than what He had with the disciples. He didn’t just teach them.
He lived with them. He ate with them. He talked with them. He corrected them. They spent lots of time together, and much of that was alone away from the crowds.
John 6:3 – Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.
Mark 4:34 – And He did not speak to them without a parable; but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples.
The relationship Jesus had with His disciples was deep. He wanted them to understand His teachings. So He took time to explain everything to them privately.
Other passages show us that He considered them family.
Matthew 12:49- And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers!
And in John 15:15 Jesus called His disciples, “friends.”
Walking with Jesus means deep and personal fellowship with Jesus.
Jesus wants that same relationship with you. In 2022, Jesus wants to a have deeper, more personal fellowship with you than ever before. 2022 might be a year where you face new trials. Or it might be a very smooth and easy year. Either way, Jesus wants to walk with you through this year.
Going on a walk with someone is a time to talk. It’s a time to share. You open up about your life and struggles, good news and bad news. You laugh and joke and tell stories. It’s fellowship.
So how you can have better fellowship with Jesus this year?
Application: Talk with Him. Talk with Jesus like you would a friend. Don’t wait for Jesus to read your Twitter or Facebook updates to know what is going on in your life. Tell Him directly. Throughout the day just talk to Him about what you are facing, how you feel, successes, failures, temptations.
Sometimes when we pray, we make it so spiritual sounding and formal. Why do we do that? We can just talk to Jesus like a friend.
The person I knew who treated Jesus like a friend perhaps the most was my mother-in-law. When she prayed, she would start off, “Hello Jesus.” Then she would simply tell Him what she was doing and how things were going. It was so simple, but so real and so personal. You really felt like Jesus was sitting at the table with her just like any other friend visiting.
The Christian life is not complicated. It is called walking. Not flying. Not juggling. Not roller skating. Walking is one of the most simple activities there is. But we are not to walk alone. We go with Jesus side by side. And as we go, we talk.
Have you been talking with Jesus? Have you been including Him in every part of your life? If not, let this be the year when you learn to have that personal fellowship with Him on a daily basis.
IV. Walking With Jesus Means Being In Step With Him
When Jesus called the disciples, He said, “follow me.” They were going with Jesus side by side. He gave them responsibilities. He befriended them. They fellowshipped together. But there should be no mistake. Jesus was the leader.
At times, His followers pushed Him to do things. They wanted to set the pace. And He said, “my time has not yet come.” (John 2:4, 7:6, 7:30, 8:20)
The disciples were not always in sync with Jesus’ plans.
Matthew 16:22-23 – And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
When Peter stepped out of sync with Jesus and tried to push forward his own plans, He was met with a very strong response. “Get behind me, Satan.”
How would you feel if you invited someone for a walk and then the entire time they were way out ahead by themselves blazing the trail? You probably wouldn’t enjoy the walk very much. And you would enjoy it even less if the trail they picked was a poor one. On the other hand, if you invite someone for a walk and the whole time they are lagging way behind, ignoring your instructions, getting lost, and going off the path you set, you wouldn’t enjoy that very much either.
As I was preparing this message, I was sitting next to a window in my room overlooking a river. A number of people were out on walks passing by. And I made a discovery. The people who were in groups of 2 or 3 were walking side by side!
So we must walk in step with Jesus. He is beside us. Encouraging us. Strengthening us. Befriending us. At the same time He is leading us.
Application: This year let us commit to walking in step with Jesus, not getting out in front of Him and His plans for us, and not lagging behind, slow to action.
That means we need to know how to seek God’s will:
- Christian Freedom
Through all of these things we seek the leading of the Holy Spirit. When we meditate on the Word and pray, we listen. We humble ourselves and submit ourselves to His will rather than push our own. We willingly wait for His timing. And we need to apply these principles in all areas of our lives.
- In decision making. Where to live. What career to follow. To pursue a relationship or not and when to do it.
Walking with Jesus means that we are in step with Him. We don’t just charge ahead and tell Him to bless it. Instead we humbly seek to follow Him and submit ourselves to His leadership.
Conclusion – When you walk with Jesus your life will be changed.
The disciples started off as regular people. They were not well educated. And they didn’t have much influence. Jesus often found them arguing about who is greater. Many other times they asked silly questions. Neither were they the bravest group. When Jesus was arrested, most of them ran off. And Peter who vowed to give his life for Jesus, denied Him three times.
But as they walked with Jesus, observing His model, His life, His prayer, His teachings, their lives were transformed. These same men became pillars of the church. They were emboldened to do great feats.
Acts 4:13 – Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
What changed them? Being with Jesus. Spending time with Jesus transformed them. It transformed them to the point that they were accused of turning the world upside down.
Acts 17:6 – And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.
I asked the other elders and deacons on the team what do you do when you go on a walk with someone. Richard Wong said that before you go on a walk with someone, you invite them. That is true. There is an invitation and a response. Jesus gave an invitation to the disciples. He said, “follow Me.”
He is giving the same invitation to us today. He is inviting us to let Him into our lives and walk with Him this year.
That means that He is asking us to have an active Christian lifestyle.
He is asking us to change our direction and give up something.
He is asking us to fellowship with us and to talk often.
He is asking us to walk in step with Him.
Exodus 33:15 – And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.
Will you accept the invitation? If you want to walk with Jesus this year, as an affirmation of that, please stand up and pray (if you are not sure or not ready to make that commitment you don’t need to stand up).
- What are some other benefits of walking with someone we didn’t discuss today? How can you walk with Jesus this year?
- Share about a time when you were out of step with Jesus (either out in front or lagging behind).
- What are some practical things you can do on a daily basis to build a closer and more personal walk with Jesus?
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