Faithlife Sermons

Are We Fans or Disciples? (3)

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John 1:19–42 ESV
And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
Scripture: John 1:19-42
Text: John 1:37-42
Sermon Title: Are We Fans or Disciples?
           Brothers and sisters in Christ, I love sports. Baseball was the theme of my wife and I’s wedding reception. When the Chicago Blackhawks are on TV, I am probably watching them. During March Madness, I keep track of as many games as possible. And if you ever went to a Dordt College basketball game between 2007 and 2011, and saw a big guy with face paint on, that was me. God may not have gifted me with the ability to play sports at high levels, but he certainly gave me the ability to cheer intensely as a fan. 
Maybe some of you feel the same way about your sports’ teams. Maybe for others of you, it is a certain singer or actress, author or someone else that causes you enthusiasm, you would consider yourself a fan of them. Being a fan typically involves a healthy level of appreciation for and enjoyment of whatever we are cheering on. But there also some who take being a fan to an unhealthy obsession, in which they idolize someone else. An attachment to someone else’s success, fame, or celebrity status can drive people to ridiculous behaviors. 
When you stop and think about being the fan of something, it is quite intriguing. Being a fan, no matter how much stress it may involve, is a leisure activity, something we do for fun or recreation—yet we are fans of someone else’s job performance. Deep into the month of October, Major League Baseball’s World Series is going on, the football season is well underway, hockey is just gearing up. If most of us were to be playing those sports, it would be for fun, but for the few professionals, it is their career, their work, how they use their gifts.
It is easy to not think much of what being a fan of involves—whether as a fan of an athlete, a musical group, a movie star, or an author. But we exalt these people, we become passionate about what they do—often times because we ourselves cannot do what they do. We cannot get in the game or get on stage or act in a way that would impress, excite, or move people the way they do. With all of this thinking about what being a fan means, we also will be considering what it means to be a disciple as we go forward, and with our text consider the difference between fans of Jesus and disciples of him.
Let’s think about our passage a bit more. John the Baptist had developed quite a following; he was a bit famous in the Jewish community of this area. But he knew who he was and what his calling was. “He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Christ.’” His work, declaring, “Repent, believe, be baptized,” was not that they would come to see him and him alone, but rather they would see the one whose way he was preparing. In fact, when he saw Jesus and baptized him, John the Baptist drew great attention to him. “This,” he says, “is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The Spirit came down from heaven and remained on. He is the Son of God.” This is who the Jews, the Israelites, had been expecting and praying to come for hundreds of years.  When Jesus showed up 2 days in a row in this region, John made sure to make it clear that this is who he had been talking about.
Then we read, “Two of John’s disciples followed him.” This is quite remarkable, because it is likely that not many people were following Jesus yet; he probably did not have great crowds like later in his ministry. They trusted John’s identification of Jesus; they had a bit of excitement about this man they had never come into contact with before. They had a bit of faith that Jesus potentially really was the Lamb of God. But with that faith, their first steps appear to be timid ones. Our text does not tell us that they speedily chased after him, shouting for him to stop, but they merely followed behind, seeing what he might do and where he might go. Andrew and the other disciple, who may have been the author John, were not reckless, but they followed to see where this might lead.  All of a sudden, Jesus turned around, asking, “What do you want?” 
I imagine the disciples tripping over their feet; he knew they were following him. Likely they also stumbled and stammered in asking, “Rabbi, umm, where are you staying?” Notice, the difference in how they identified him compared to John; they call him Teacher, whereas John had called him Lord, Lamb of God, Son of God. They were right, he was a teacher, but they were not as bold as their mentor; they were a bit more reserved in their identification. They responded by wanting to know where he was staying. They were tired of tracking him; they wanted to meet the man John had made such high claims about. Rather than simply giving them his lodging info or where he was going to minister, Jesus invited them, “Come and you will see.” 
Jesus set the tone that becoming a disciple is based on seeing who God is, what he’s about, and what he’s doing. So the two men went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed that day with him. We don’t know what happened that day, what the experience of Andrew and the other disciple was like, but I can promise you that their day with Jesus was not spent in a luxurious apartment or hotel where they received celebrity or VIP treatment. Maybe other people gathered around him, but what it meant to stay with him was not like how we might imagine spending a day with our favorite actress or singer or athlete that you or I are fans of.
Whatever Jesus showed to them and whatever he might have told them about who he was and what he was doing, consider the impact it had on Andrew. Verses 41 and 42 tell us, “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah.’ And he brought him to Jesus.” This young man, who had been following John the Baptist just a day or two before, had been turned to this other teacher, spent less than 24 hours with him, and he was so convicted that this was the one that all of Scripture, all of his upbringing was pointing to, that the first thing he did was went, told his brother, and brought him with. This image of Andrew is the clear picture of what a disciple of Jesus looks like.
In thinking through how one gets to that point of being more than a fan, being a disciple, we should notice that both fans and disciples start out the same way. In both cases, you begin with a trusted person drawing your attention to something that you might want to pay attention to. When you think about what got you started as a fan of a particular team or artist or celebrity, I am guessing there was a parent, a friend, a teacher, or someone else close to you that already was a fan. Accompanying that source, there also needs to be an excitement or an attraction factor that draws you in. In sports, that might be the tradition of the team, the thrill of being at a game, or the nearness in location to the team’s home.    
In our passage, John the Baptist was the beginning trusted source, and at the other end, Andrew became a trusted source. The exciting factor throughout is what Jesus revealed to them. Whatever happened that day was attractive enough to make Andrew want to stick around. The attraction factor for Simon was being given a new name, a new meaning to who he was. Seeds were planted and started to grow. We know that these two grew up into disciples, but certainly with others, the same beginning might bear the result of only becoming fans. 
Many of us who have been around faith and claim to be Christians for a while can probably think back to family members, friends, pastors, Sunday school and catechism teachers, program leaders who helped you to see the Savior. They were able to show you because they had seen and followed him already. Those trusted people discipled you—helping form a foundation with the work of the Holy Spirit; they taught you what is needed to believe. They took time and energy, and they invested in you. They were not hoping for you to just see that Jesus as a good guy who can take care of all your problems or God as some big person in the sky who sees everything we do. Their work was not to get you to just cheer on Jesus like you cheer on the Tigers, the Red Wings, or the Lions. They desired for you to see and believe in him. 
This is where the split happens, where we separate fan from disciple. A fan has low personal involvement; some fans get really stressed, agitated as well as enthusiastic based on the performance of their team or their actor—but they do not actually do anything. As a fan myself, I know a crowd can influence the pace of a game and how players perform, but athletes could do just as well without us. A disciple on the other hand, actually gets to be in the game; their role requires quite a bit of involvement. The beliefs they have been introduced to make such an impact on their lives that they are completely changed and transformed for how they live. They recognize that they get to play a role in leading others to what matters most in life. When someone discipled you, they took seriously not just that God exists and works and deserves praise, but that God redeems and also invites us to join him in his work.
           When Jesus turned around, he asked these two men, “What do you want?” That’s really the question that gets at the heart of what is before us today, “Do we want to be fans or disciples?” To put it bluntly, Jesus was asking, “Do you want to just follow me around, watch and maybe even hang out some time? Do you want to be seen with me because it seems like I’m a big deal? Or do you think that the teacher you’ve left behind is on to something, in which case, you following me means much more?” The question that Jesus asked them, and I would say, he asks each and every person, is one that he expects an answer to, “What do you want?”  
The lifestyle that disciples are involved in is not simply one that tries to show off our walking with Jesus when it works out for us. It is a life through which God beckons us to come and see, and stay with Jesus. When the two disciples of our passage found the Lamb of God, everything changed. Their mentorship under John the Baptist had paved a way, and the way was to this man, God in the flesh, and what he was bringing about. They were given a vision for the future. Fans can have a vision—they envision the success of whomever they support. But as disciples, they and we are to take the vision God gives to us in his Word, and we are to do all that we can to bring about that vision. Being a Christian, a disciple of Christ, is not simply saying, “I know Jesus was a real person. I believe he lived, and I think he is also God.”—those are ways to identify him, but a disciple comes around to say, “He is the Messiah, and he is my Savior and Lord.” A disciple identifies, but also confesses.  Christ rules over all things, and he saved you like nothing else can. He calls you and me to be much more than fans.
Maybe you can guess the next step. We are called to not let it stop with us becoming disciples, but we get to go and bring others to the one we have found so they might become disciples. If we take all of this seriously, then like Andrew, we must be willing to tell others. That day impacted him so much that the first thing he did was go and tell and get his brother. A disciple remembers the relationships that formed them, and seeks to develop new relationships to share the change that Christ brings. If you have trusted and have committed yourself to Jesus, you have seen and want to remain, then you should also desire to bring others along.
The disciples’ answer to Jesus’ question at that time and as they grew, and I hope we might join them is, “We want to come and see, and also stay.” As disciples, we have to want to remain with Jesus. As active a role in this as we have the opportunity to play, God’s role is always greater. He is offering to show you what he has done—he was there in the creation of the world, he came as the only one who can save a world that has been broken by sin, and he has gone to prepare a place where all who repent and believe will join him when he comes again. He calls you to be more than his fan; more than just riding the successes and benefits of his victories. This kind of commitment to Christ, being a disciple, means that you love him because he loved you first, and has shown you his grace and his glory as all that you need and desire.
For those of you who are young and still in the early stages of learning about what it means that Jesus saved you; for those you who might be wondering if what you have been living is more of a fan of Jesus and you want to grow into a disciple; for any of you who are hearing this for the first time, I know it can all sound like a bit much. If God has invited you to be a disciple, it does not mean you have to have all the answers to all the theological and doctrinal questions. It does not mean if you have horrible things in your past or even right now, that you do not have an opportunity. The opportunity to be disciples comes in realizing that by believing Jesus died on the cross for you, he will give you grace. You can be cleansed and welcomed by God as his son and his daughter. If that fits you tonight or any other time and you want to know more, I encourage you to find someone you can share that with. Discipleship’s journey is amazing, but we need help along the way; we do not do it alone. 
For those of us who are a bit farther along in the journey, those of us who are teachers, mentors, and parents, our role is to guide while still being guided ourselves. We have the opportunity to help train and equip young people and people new to the faith. Let us understand that does not mean simply teaching facts, but rather we get to help show them the way to God and nurture their faith with the Holy Spirit. What an amazing opportunity! The answer we give to Jesus’ question, “What do you want?” is where faith begins and lives. Once the ball is rolling, faith can grow and we can delight more and more in what Christ has done and what he offers.  We can join with other disciples, investing in one another. We get to be on the lookout for where Christ gives us opportunities, and where he calls us to play a vital role in encouraging others to become disciples themselves. Brothers and sisters, how do you see yourself? How might God be calling you to come, see and remain living with him as a disciple? Amen.  
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