150118 John1:43

Last Updated on Monday, 19 January 2015 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: John 1:43

Theme: Are You Going to Follow The Leader?

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me."

This is the Word of the Lord.

Many of you know that I enjoy watching auto racing. If you have ever watched a race, maybe you have asked yourself, "Why doesn't that second place car just pass the leader. It looks like he could do it any time." There are advantages to following the leader in auto racing. The car ahead blocks the wind, and in doing so improves the gas mileage of the car in second place. The leader may show the driver in second place the best "line" to follow around the track. And it happens many times that the car in second place will be content to follow the leader for lap after lap, only to pass the leader in the final turn and beat him to the finish line. Today, God's Word talks to you and me about following our Leader, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, all the way to the finish line. As you go through this race called "Life", are you going to follow the leader?

The scene before us from the first chapter of John's Gospel takes place shortly after Jesus began his public ministry on earth. John the Baptist is still proclaiming to people about Jesus, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." And, "I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." Several of John's followers, including Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, are now followers of Jesus. They had heard the gracious invitation of the Savior, "Follow me". Now, in the verse before us we read, "The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, 'Follow me.'"

First we notice that it is not Philip who seeks out the Lord, but the Savior who finds Philip and comes to him. He simply comes to Philip and says, "Follow me". The original language of this verse tells us that Jesus not only called Philip to follow him just for that moment, but that he encouraged Philip to continue to follow him. It was this Word of God that John the Baptist shared with him and the gracious invitation of Jesus, which created faith in the heart of Philip. How do we know that Philip believed Jesus was the promised Savior? Because he immediately went and found his friend Nathanael and confessed his faith to him. We read a few moments ago, "Philip found Nathanael and told him, 'We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.'"

In our services last week we had the opportunity to give thanks to the Lord of the Church for the wonderful Sacrament of Holy Baptism. We were reminded of the important role that our baptism plays in your life and mine. At the time of Baptism, the person being baptized isn't approaching the Savior, but the Savior is coming to them. He is coming to them with the gracious invitation, "Follow me." By the power of God's Word alone, saving faith in Jesus Christ as the only Savior from sin is created in the heart. And the gracious invitation of the Savior doesn't stop with Baptism. After creating this saving faith in our hearts, Jesus doesn't just leave us to continue on our own. Rather, he continues to say to us, "Follow me." He strengthens our faith in him, as we spend time in his Word day after day. This weekend you and I hear the encouragement from God's Word to open our Bibles and hear our Savior say to you and me, "Follow me".

So the question for you to think about this morning is, "Are you going to follow the leader?" Are you going to continue to follow the Savior, who gave you the forgiveness of your sins and brought you into a right relationship with the one and only true God? This may be a difficult thing for you and me us to do at times. You and I have a sinful nature that tempts you and me to turn away from the Leader, Jesus Christ. Perhaps we have friends or even family members who encourage us to follow them into loving the ways and the things of this world, rather than following THE Leader, Jesus.

Some examples: maybe your friends will come to you and tell you that drinking and getting drunk, or doing drugs, isn't that big of a deal...in fact, they will tell you, it can be a whole lot of fun. Or your sinful nature may be tempting you to think, "What's the big deal with couples living together before they are married. Everyone is doing it now-a-days." When these situations come up, are you going to follow the leader? What did our Leader tell us about our bodies in the Second Lesson for this weekend, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."

How about the use of our tongues? It is far too easy to gossip about one another; or, to complain about someone to another person. My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, in the use of your tongue, are you going to follow the leader? The leader who says in Ephesians 4, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice." And again the Leader says to you and me in his Word, "Encourage one another and build each other up...always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

How about your attitude toward God's Word? There are many people today, maybe even some here this morning, who think the Bible is out of date. Some will think, "The Bible is out of date when it speaks about the roles of men and women or the teaching of Church Fellowship. What the Bible tells us about marriage and the gifts of marriage can't possibly apply to us in the 21st century. The Church needs to change its message to reach people today." My dear Christian friends, when it comes to your attitude toward the Word of our God, are you going to follow the Leader? The Leader who says to us in 1 Timothy chapter 4, "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry."

How about as a member of our congregation? As we look toward the future ministry of our congregation in 2015 and beyond, are you going to follow the Leader? Are you going to actively take part in the efforts of our congregation to share the Good News of the Gospel with those who do not yet know Jesus as their Savior or who need to be built up in their relationship with the one true God? Are you going to follow the Leader, as you gladly work together with your fellow believers and faithfully give back to the Lord the best of your time, talents and treasures? As we read in Romans chapter 12, "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."

In order to get ahead in the world today many will say that you need to be a leader and not a follower. My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, are you going to be content to follow the Leader? By the grace of God, you and I are God's children. In his great love for us, the Savior-God reached out to you and me in his Word, and said to each one of us, "Follow Me!" Since you and I have been given the gift of the forgiveness of all of our sins through Jesus Christ our Savior, may each one of us gladly and willingly follow him and his will for our lives. My dear friends, are you going to follow the Leader? Amen.

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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