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About this series
The Four Great Invitations
Lessons from My First 50 Years with Jesus
Do you have a mentor? That one person with lots of life know-how you completely trust for sound wisdom and guidance? Well, if not, in this series, Chip will be that mentor for us as he shares some insightful experiences he’s learned from - through 5 decades of walking with Jesus. He’ll unpack how these lessons are rooted in 4 essential invitations Jesus challenged His disciples with throughout the Gospels. Don’t miss how these biblical insights can encourage, motivate and comfort you through all aspects of life.More from this series
What you find in Scripture is that Jesus calls the disciples and He calls us to follow. And the call to follow is a – you’ll notice in your notes I jotted this – it’s an intentional apprenticeship. Sometimes we think following Jesus is sort of like maybe coming to a weekend meeting, trying to be a nice person, reading the Bible a little bit, and telling someone maybe something that happened to you.
But to follow when Jesus said to the disciples or specifically to Peter, “Follow Me,” from a Jewish mindset and what this means is, “I’m going to become an apprentice of this rabbi or teacher,” and it meant three things. Whatever he teaches, I want to master what he is saying, but second, I want to emulate his life. So, when Jesus said to them, “Follow Me,” He wasn’t just saying, “Physically follow Me,” or He wasn’t just saying, “Embrace My teaching,” it was a, “I want you to learn to think the way I think, to speak the way I speak, to act the way I act.” So, if you were following a rabbi, you wanted to become like him. And Luke 6:40 says, “When a disciple or a learner or a student is fully trained, he will be just like his teacher.” So, the goal isn’t simply that you get direction, you follow a path and you follow teaching, it’s actually that you become more and more like Jesus Himself.
And so, with that, we pick up the formal story in Luke chapter 5, I put it in your notes if you don’t have your Bible with you. It begins there at verse 1 and goes through verse 11. From the context we know that the early disciples, first, they just started hanging out with Jesus. So, in John chapter 1, Jesus walks by and John the Baptist says, “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.”
And Peter, being a good follower of John the Baptist says, “Hey, where are you staying?” And Jesus says, “Come see.” And so, they explored. And then we learn from the early chapters of John that this followership was kind of part-time and they started to hang out with Jesus and they became friends. They went to a wedding.
He was going to take a little trip so he took a little time off from work and went on a little part-time trip and they went through Samaria and he got to see a revival there. And so, what you’re going to read is someone who has been exploring, who actually believes Jesus is the Messiah, he is spending time with Him, he’s drawn to Him. And now we are going to find this sort of official moment where he is called by Jesus to be a full-time follower, to join a band of brothers who would embrace a message, align with a cause, and desire to become like Jesus and fulfill His mission.
“Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the Word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; and He saw two boats lying on the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and He asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began to teach the people from the boat.”
“When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ Simon answered and said, “Master, we have worked all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.’”
I mean, I think Peter is thinking, Rabbi, You’re a really great teacher and You really know God’s Word and I – You don’t know much about fishing. The reason we get up, you know, before dark and come out is the fish are very down deep. When the light comes up, they come up to feed. We have been here; we have gotten nothing. This is – you don’t catch fish right now. So, there’s a very important moment of this is logically impossible what is about to happen.
And I was thinking about following and I’ll share some of the lessons as I have learned, but I thought, What exactly…? I mean, if you could read through all the gospels and sort of have it all in front of you, Jesus wants him to follow. What does He want him to learn? What does He want him to follow? And so, if you’ll look on your notes, what I did is I gave you a quick, little Bible study. I’m just going to sort of give you a highlight.
Jesus came, by the way, not as God like with a superman suit underneath and human flesh and acting like He was human, but whenever things got hard, He’s really God!
No, no, no. He was fully man who lived in complete dependency on the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit. And every miracle He did, every act of righteousness He did, He did as a fully human person without sin, dependent on the Father. So, He’s going to say, “How I lived and how I walked and what I did is exactly how I want to model it for you.” That’s what rabbis do.
And so, the first lesson He wanted Peter and us to learn is dependency. In John 5:30, he says, “By Myself,” these are the words of Jesus, “I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear and My judgment is just, for I seek not to please Myself, but Him who sent me.” As Peter followed Him and as we follow Him, there would be a big crowd and all of a sudden, He disappears. In Mark chapter 1, it’s like hours and hours of teaching and healing and people crowding on a great while before dawn, where is Jesus? And they go find Him and He’s out by this lonely place. He can’t do this on His own. He’s talking to the Father. Jesus modeled a fully dependent, “I can’t do this without You, Father. I need Your power, Holy Spirit.” And He wanted the disciples to understand that.
Second, He wanted them to get in on His mission. Jesus made His mission very clear. Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which is lost.” He wanted Peter to know, “That’s why I came and I want to help you be an instrument of Mine to seek and save people that are lost, they are hurting, they are struggling.”
The next thing He wanted him to learn was to catch His heart. Matthew 25, He said, “When you see the marginalized, when you see someone in prison, when you see someone who is poor, when you see someone whose life is a trainwreck, I want you to feel about them the way I feel about them.” And what Jesus did, He had compassion on them. He said, “When you do it to the least of these, you are actually doing it unto Me.” He wanted Peter, this hardcore, blue-collar fisherman, macho guy to understand, “You need to be tender, you need to care about people.” “God doesn’t see as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, God weighs the heart.” “Peter, I want you to see that.”
The next thing He wanted him to learn was His motives. In John 4:34, Jesus said, “My food,” My motivation, what drives Me, “is to do the will of God, and to accomplish His work.”
Not what people think, not what the culture says. “Peter, I want you to know that, you know, if getting a lot of fish or being famous or being rich, I gave you that if that’s what you wanted. This is even better, this is bigger, this is more important. My food, the motivation isn’t that you use Me to get your world figured out. The motivation is that You understand that God’s got a purpose and a plan and that’s your drive, that’s your motivation.”
And then it’s very interesting. Jesus wanted Peter to learn to die well. I think I shared earlier, we do a lot of ministry in the Middle East and we did some training for a group that we partner with, a couple hundred of their leaders from throughout the Middle East and a number of the people that had come were from Iran and Iraq and some of the countries with it’s illegal to be a follower of Jesus.
And as they were going back, the report we got from this group was, the last thing they asked us, “Will you teach us to die well?” They understood that there’s more to life than now. They probably won’t live very long by being a follower of Christ in Iran. And it’s just, and Jesus taught the disciples, “Unless a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it bears forth much fruit.”
And so, part of His journey as He trained them and He taught and then He modeled and then about the last eighteen months, the goal was put them into training so they would learn to die.
Now, He died physically and then three days later rose from the dead. But they had to die to themselves. They were going to have to learn to take up their cross and their agenda and follow Him and it would be very unpopular. And so, that’s part of what He’s teaching them. And are you ready for this? He actually expected them to both think and believe that they should follow Him in resurrection.
Luke 22, I put it in your notes here, this is like the very last night. And they are ready to go into the last Passover and Jesus is going to wash their feet and we are going to have all that exciting stuff that happens. But as they are going in, they have a disagreement. And they are arguing about who is the greatest. I mean, after three years of Jesus, they are still arguing about who is number one.
And Jesus gets them together and He doesn’t, He doesn’t reprove them and say, “You shouldn’t be so ambitious and why do you want to make such a big impact? And why do you want…?” God made us to be that way. But He says, “Let me tell you, there’s a different way to get there.” He says to them, “If you want to be great, be a servant. If you want to be number one, actually be a slave and serve other people.”
And then He says this crazy, crazy thing. You kind of miss it. He says, “My Father has conferred a kingdom on Me and I now confer a kingdom on you.” And these men have gone through it. He knows He is going to die, He knows He is going to rise from the dead, He knows what they are going to go through in the future. He says, “I confer a kingdom on you,” to these eleven, and He says, “and you will rule with Me in the resurrection. And you will be on thrones and help judge the twelve tribes.”
He actually had a mindset that following Him wasn’t just temporal and wasn’t just now, but a mindset of a future and a resurrection and what the Bible would teach about a new heaven and a new earth and that you were a follower for eternity.
It's like I was joking last week when my wife was giving me a hard time, like, she says, “Lessons from the first fifty years? Do you think you’re going to live another fifty?” I said, “No, but I think I’m going to be following Jesus for another five hundred million or zillion, because after this body dies, I’ll be resurrected, and I will still be following. I’ll still be learning.”
So, what I want you to see now is Peter’s experience, and then I’ll maybe share some things that you can identify with.
I think sometimes we think, at least the way I grew up, these apostles and “people that were holy,” they were all in stained glass. I remember going to church, we had this huge A-frame and it was all stained glass and you kind of have some pictures. And I just thought that Peter and Paul and they just lived on another planet and they just had it all together. Of course, I had never read the New Testament but…
And I just want to show you, Peter, did you notice? His first steps, he just crawled like a baby. He’s small in faith. It was a crawl. He just explored. Then he explored some more. And then he listened. And then he followed Him around. And then he hung out with Him. Then he went to a wedding. And then he heard Him teach and then he realized, “You are the Messiah,” and he came to personal faith.
And then it was part-time trying to take time off from work to be more and more around Jesus and then now? His crawl becomes a bit of a walk. Okay, I am going to leave my business, I am going to leave my family for a season and I’m going to join this band of brothers to go into training to fulfill this mission and become just like this rabbi.
And so, he leaves his boats. And he’s making really good progress. And then, Jesus says to His disciples, “Okay, I’m doing all these miracles, all this teaching; who do people say that I am?” Remember this? And they say, “Oh, some think John the Baptist raised from the dead. Others, an Old Testament prophet.”
And Jesus says, “No, no, no, no. Who do you say that I am?” And Peter says, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And He goes, “Peter, that’s not from you. The Father revealed that to you.”
So, I mean, he is declaring. He is getting it. And what’s interesting is right after some of our biggest sort of great moments are often some of our lowest moments. Maybe some of you understand. Remember what happened next? Shortly after Jesus talked about, “Now I am going to go.” It’s getting near the end of the ministry. “I’m going to die,” and three days later…
And Peter takes Him aside, “May it never be.” You know, You can’t die! See, Peter has got this picture of: You’re going to take down Rome, You’re going to clean up the Jewish system, there’s going to be twelve thrones, I’m going to be one of Your right-hand guys. I mean, You’re the Messiah! You’re the King! You’re going to make everything right and You’re going to do it right now!
And Jesus, remember His words? “Get behind Me, Satan!” And do you remember His explanation? “Because you have the things of man on your mind instead of the things of God.”
In other words, here’s what Peter had in mind. And it’s so subtle and, boy, I have been so guilty of it personally. What Peter, I mean, he’s sincere, right? He’s got the right doctrine, he believes. He’s already made a huge sacrifice. I mean, he left family, left his business, how much more committed?
And, yet, what he wanted was the crown without the cross. What he wanted was: I want Jesus and I want to be a part of His team, but I want Him to make my world work out the way I want it, but this crazy talk about You dying and all that, that’s…
And I don’t know about you, but I get that way. In fact, I think it has happened much in this country and some places around the world where we actually think that Jesus came and died, paid the price for our sin, rose from the dead, and we believe and trust in Him and if we will kind of do what is right, His whole goal is to make us happy and work things out for us. So, we will follow Him, and if we follow Him, then we won’t get sick and He’ll give us money and our marriages will be great and our kids will all turn out right.
And He never said, He said, “No, no, no, no. I want you to follow Me and I want you to fulfill My agenda.” And Peter blew it on this one.
And then he went from stumbling where he fell. He betrayed Him, right? “Everyone else will. I will never! I’ll never!” I mean, flat on his face. And then he crawls again. It’s interesting that the Scripture is really clear that after the resurrection, remember? He appears to Mary and then the text says in 1 Corinthians 15 that He appeared to the twelve, but He appeared to Peter privately. I think He basically just said, “Peter, I forgive you.”
And I don’t know about you, but I’ve done some things that I know were so wrong, so bad. The opposite of what I knew God wanted me to do, and I have prayed and asked for forgiveness and I have known I have been forgiven, but I don’t feel very much like I am worth anything or God could ever do much with my life.
And so, after he crawls back in forgiveness, he begins to walk where Jesus restores him – John chapter 21. Peter goes back to fishing, he comes in and He asked those three questions, “Peter, do you love Me? Peter, do you love Me? Peter, do you love Me?” And He reinstates him, “Feed My lambs, feed My lambs, feed My sheep.”
And He did it in such a way where He wanted Peter to own, “Yes, you blew it. You were confident in yourself, and you messed up. But it doesn’t mean I have given up on you.”