When Jesus Calls

   Passages for 1/21/18

 Passages for 1/21/18

John Astor, Andrew Carnegie, and the Kennedy family did not build their riches on establishing hospitals. Money was in rail, shipping, industry and the like. Hospitals were, almost always the calling of a group of women to care for the poor and ill.

A group of nuns was asked to come to Vancouver to care for the people. When Archbishop Blanchet asked the sisters to consider a hospital for Portland, "The sisters prayed and discussed how best to serve the people of Portland. On July 19, 1874 (then celebrated as the Feast of St. Vincent), they received a letter from the local St. Vincent de Paul Society, a Catholic charitable organization, offering a block of land in northwest Portland… and one thousand dollars in cash for construction (Clevenger)."

Rev. Carl J. Renhard of First Immanuel Lutheran Church began Emanuel hospital in 1912, about the same time Kenton was formed (Legacy Emanuel). The reason it is not Immanuel is because of misspelled official documents (ibid.). In fact, "Between 1829 and 1900, Catholic sisterhoods established 299 hospitals in the United States (Lewis 16)." Those who began hospitals and orphanages were often the people who heard Jesus say, "Follow me". They also found the Son of God, not "A" son of God, and who, in discovering the truth about Jesus, like Philip, rushed off to do go where Jesus sent them. 

God Knows Us

 When John the Baptist points out Jesus to his disciples there appears to be little hesitation on their part. Andrew and John follow Jesus. Later, in Galilee, this discipleship of these two along with Simon and James take a further step. Mark 1:16-1920 says:

Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

Nathanael is listed nowhere else among the disciples. He may be referred to by his Hebrew name, but we simply do not know about his later following of Jesus. What we do know is that when faced with his brother's claim about Jesus, he is not impressed. Others had come out of Galilee with a claim to being Messiah (Burge 78) why should this Jesus be any different?

 Persuaded to 'come and see' Nathanael is met by Jesus who says, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” (v. 27). The word is used 11 times in the New Testament to indicate cunning or trickery. It is "the concept behind the description of Jacob when he steals his brother's birthright (Burge 78)." Then Jesus tells Nathanael how he'd been sitting under a fig tree just before he came with Andrew. It is almost funny to see how this man goes from cynicism to a profession of faith.

 It is rightly pointed out that God call is for "disciples, not mere decisions (Utley)." As the parable of the sower suggests, there are those who will make a decision for Jesus, and even put down roots, who will be choked out or destroyed. To be a disciple of Jesus is a continual work of obeying Jesus and of remaining with him even in difficult times. Christianity is not a "fire insurance policy or a ticket to heaven, but a daily servant/friend relationship with Jesus (Utley)."

 God Calls Us

Evidence of God's knowing and call is found in Jesus' calling Simon Cephas and his awareness of Nathaniel's whereabouts before he'd come to Jesus. Cephas is Aramaic for 'rock'. This name, even amid Peter's haphazard faith, at times, is affirmed by Jesus. Following Peter’s confession to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus says, "17 Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." 

 God calls us through other persons as well as through life situations, but behind each of these means is the reality of God's Holy Spirit's voice. The apparent gap between Malachi and the Gospels of some 400 years was a gap of prophecy. God was not silent during those centuries. Of course not, He orchestrated the coming of Rome over Judea as well as set about touching the lives of ordinary people in ways we'll never know. But what was heard was not deemed valuable enough to record. One preacher points out, that although God may not speak to a person or group, "very often, God is speaking only we are not listening. Even when we hear God speak we fail to recognize His voice. We are often either confused or prefer to listen to what we ourselves are saying (Baete)."

The owner of a bird supply store heard a man say how there were no hummingbirds (hummers) around them. He told him, "You just have to have eyes to see them. Once you do, you will see them everywhere. They are small and fast and camouflaged, but they are not that hard to spot (McKnight 3)." Likewise, we have to have ears with which to hear God. That was what Samuel gained when he woke up his mentor to find out why Eli had called him. Eli's words are true today, "if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears’ (1 Sam. 3:9).  

Why do we not hear God? Why do we assume God will talk to others but leave us alone? As I mentioned, we can be confused as Samuel was or we like our own voice better. A reason for this is we know God calls people to do messy things. He has Noah build an ark. He moves Abraham to an unknown land. He rescues His people and takes them on a forced march across the desert. He calls women and men to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the Gospel. 

 In an episode of Young Sheldon, he is at a motel and comes out with a strip of paper and declares, "Look, the toilet was sanitized for my protection. I love this place (Deutch)." If you want a sanitized life, if you want a neat and tidy life, if you want a life in which your dreams and goals take priority, do not seek to hear God. God does not offer a sanitized, neat, and tidy life. Listen to God and you can be certain that your life will be full of messiness and interruptions. If you can't handle that then run as far away from the call of God as you can, because, as our Lord told us in John 15, "Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you."

The first words spoken by Jesus is his question to Andrew and John as they leave the Baptist and follow him--“What do you seek?”  “Are you seeking for security or a new cause?” he was asking. “Do you really have any idea of what I’m about? Who I really am? Do you realize the cost of leaving John to follow Me?” He is still asking the same question today (Fredrikson and Ogilvie 54)!"

 God Reveals Himself to Us

 We spoke of how God tore apart the heavens to declare Jesus as his son when Jesus was baptized. In these verses, Jesus begins to reveal himself and the Father to us. Nathanael rips off a trilogy of titles in his response to Jesus' knowledge--Rabbi, Son of God, and King of Israel. Yes, he is all of those and so much more. Dr. Burge lists some 13 titles and names used about Jesus in this chapter.

    •      Messiah (vv. 20, 41)

    •      The Prophet (v. 21)

    •      Jesus (v. 29)

    •      Lamb of God (v. 29, 36)

    •     One who baptizes with the

           Spirit (v. 33)

    •      Chosen [Son] of God (v. 34)

    •      Rabbi/teacher (vv. 38, 49)

    •      Christ/anointed one (v. 41)

    •      Son of Joseph (v. 45)

    •      Nazarene (v. 45)

    •      Son of God (v. 49)

    •      King of Israel (v. 49)

    •      Son of Man (v. 51)

He says, "No other chapter in the New Testament provides a comprehensive list like this. On the historical level it is surprising that here, this early in Jesus’ ministry, followers have an accurate appraisal of who he is (Burge 79)."

 This is the first of 25 instances of "Truly, truly". Only John uses them in this format to call attention to the "draw attention to Jesus' significant and trustworthy statements (Utley)." Literally, the phrase is amen, amen and indicates a solid truth upon which one can place all they hold dear. In other sources, there are no similar statements. "This is Jesus’ unique Aramaic teaching style, embedded in the Greek Gospel story (Burge 79)."  Jesus also changes the 'you' from singular, referring to Nathanael to the plural, meaning all the disciples. What they are going to see is the opening of the heavens so they are never closed. God ripped the heaven's opened upon Jesus' baptism, and now God keeps them open so that these disciples, and we, may also experience the presence of God.

Keep in mind that in the Old Testament the use of the "windows of heaven" is a good thing. The phrase is used three times. First in Genesis 7 when God destroys the earth in a flood. A second time it's used to mock Elisha's prophecy and the guard who did this was trampled to death. Only it's used in Malachi 3:10 has God's people blessed because of the windows of heaving being opened. And only this is in response to one's discipleship--obeying God to bring the whole tithe into the house.

 God is not safe to be around. C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity says,

"Christ says, 'Give me all. I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there. I want to have the whole tree down. I don't want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think are innocent as well as the ones you think are wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you myself: my own will shall become yours (Lewis).'"

Paul Borthwick, a leadership in mission work wrote about a man he knew from church. Peter, was a young man with a Masters degree from Harvard and Borthwick ran into him while he working at McDonald's Borthwick asked, "What are you doing here?"

"Well," he explained, "I graduated in May, but I went four months without finding a job, so I said to myself, 'I need some income to pay bills.' So this is where I've ended up—at least for now."

"Sorry to hear that. It must be hard," I replied, but Peter cut me off. 'No. Don't be sorry. God has me here. This place is giving me awesome opportunities to share my faith. I'm on a shift that includes a Buddhist guy from Sri Lanka, a Muslim fellow from Lebanon, a Hindu lady from India, and a fellow Christian from El Salvador. It's awesome. I get to be a global missionary to my coworkers while asking 'would you like fries with that?' He laughed and so did I. Like Philip, Peter found himself in a setting he never would have chosen as part of his long-term plan, but his mindset of living as a sent person shaped the way he looked at his circumstances and at the people around him (Borthwick 46)."

We are going to face opportunities when we will be challenged to take a step forward in the name of Jesus and for the sake of our Lord. They may be scary places. They will most certainly be uncomfortable places. Regardless, when we obey and step in we discover the glory of doing what God calls us to do and being who Jesus desires us to be. I'll end with a favorite saying of Dr. Laura Schlesinger, "Now, go do the right thing." Let's pray.

Works Cited

Baeta, William. "Speak Lord Your Servant Is Hearing." https://www.sermoncentral.com. 2003. Web. 19 Jan. 2018.

Burge, Gary M. John. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2000. Print.

Clevenger, Sydney. "St. Vincent's And the Sisters Of Providence: Oregon's First Permanent Hospital,". "Oregon Historical Quarterly. 2001. Web. 18 Jan. 2018.

Deutch, Howie. Young Sheldon. Hollywood: CBS, 2018. video.

Fredrikson, Roger L., and Lloyd J. Ogilvie. The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 27: John. 1st ed. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc., 1985. Print.

"Legacy Emanuel Medical Center." En.wikipedia.org. Web. 19 Jan. 2018.

Lewis, C.S.  Mere Christianity (HarperOne, 2001), p. 196-197;

McKnight, Scot. The Hum of Angels. [S.l.]: Waterbook Press, 2017. Print.

Pittendreigh, W. "Things Sometimes Get Messy!" https://www.sermoncentral.com. 2003. Web. 19 Jan. 2018.

Utley, Bob. The Beloved Disciple's Memoirs and Letters. Marshall, Tex.: Bible Lessons International, 1999. Print.

Bibliography

Baeta, William. "Speak Lord Your Servant Is Hearing." https://www.sermoncentral.com. 2003. Web. 19 Jan. 2018.

Burge, Gary M. John. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2000. Print.

Clevenger, Sydney. "St. Vincent's And the Sisters Of Providence: Oregon's First Permanent Hospital,". "Oregon Historical Quarterly. 2001. Web. 18 Jan. 2018.

Deutch, Howie. Young Sheldon. Hollywood: CBS, 2018. video.

Fredrikson, Roger L., and Lloyd J. Ogilvie. The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 27: John. 1st ed. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc., 1985. Print.

"Legacy Emanuel Medical Center." En.wikipedia.org. Web. 19 Jan. 2018.

Lewis, C.S.  Mere Christianity (HarperOne, 2001), p. 196-197;

Lewis, Milton James. Medicine and Care of The Dying. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.

McKnight, Scot. The Hum of Angels. [S.l.]: Waterbook Press, 2017. Print.

Pittendreigh, W. "Things Sometimes Get Messy!" https://www.sermoncentral.com. 2003. Web. 19 Jan. 2018.

Utley, Bob. The Beloved Disciple's Memoirs and Letters. Marshall, Tex.: Bible Lessons International, 1999. Print.