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. 19And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Matt 4:18-20)
Part of what would have been so astonishing about Jesus is the way he acquired his disciples. You see, in his day, it was the students who sought out the teacher. A great rabbi would get a reputation as a teacher and you would decide to go to his school and learn from him.
But what does Jesus do? He goes and calls his disciples. Implicitly, he is saying, what I have to teach is not like anything else the rabbis are going to tell you. Last week, Pastor Richard reminded of this. Jesus taught and people asked, ‘Where is getting these things?’ (Mark 6:2). Elsewhere we read that Jesus taught, not like the other teachers, “but as one having authority” (Matt 7:29). By getting up and following Jesus, the disciples are agreeing to follow his teaching. In fact, when you read the rest of the Gospels, you see a lot of what the disciples do is listen to Jesus’ teaching. They understood the importance of that.
In fact, in John 6, people are following Jesus more for the miracles than for him. So Jesus decided to thin the crowd a little and begins teach some hard things. Then John writes, “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,’ (John 6:66-68).
Brothers and sisters, where else are going to go? Where else are we going to find the words of life? Are we looking at psychology and self-help books? Are we looking to friends and family? Even the best of Christian books are just explaining what Jesus has said to his Church in the Bible. Going to anyone or anywhere else besides Christ will prove to be a waste of time. It will be like trying to live on cotton candy when what we really need is a steak.
As Jesus’ disciples – as those who claim the name of Christ, calling ourselves Christians – we must follow the teachings of Christ. In order to do that, we first have to be familiar with the teachings of Christ. Start by just reading the gospels. Read John, then read Matthew, then Luke and Mark. Then move on to what the apostles said about Jesus and his teaching. Then move on to the Old Testament which served as the basis for Jesus’ teachings. Read the Old Testament in light of Christ (Matt 5:17).
Learn what it looks like, what it means to live as a disciple of Christ.