12. The Calling Jesus

  1. The Calling Jesus

John 1:35

The first time that we see people following Jesus is at the time of his baptism. The tradition of the time was that young boys would be taught the Jewish Law from when they were children, some would go on to study more deeply while others would follow a trade or find work in some other occupation. It was not uncommon for young men to attach themselves to teachers and become their disciples. So it was with John the Baptist, and when he announced that Jesus was the Lamb of God, two of his disciples approached Jesus. Their names were John, who was the bother of James and Andrew, the brother of Peter. They asked Jesus where he was staying and his response was, “Come and you will see”. It was late in the afternoon and John and Andrew stayed with Jesus that day.

Andrew went and found his brother and convinced him that they had found the Messiah, so he joined Jesus as well. The next day as they headed toward Galilee they met Philip and Jesus called him to follow as well, Phillip brought along Nathanael. A few days later they attended the wedding at Cana were Jesus performed his first miracle and then to Jerusalem where John records the first time that Jesus drove the money changers out of the Temple.

The way that Jesus chose his followers differs in the Gospel accounts. It may be that there three different calls and that in the time between them his disciples returned to their homes. If this is the case then Peter, Andrew, James and John went back to their business which was commercial fishing. The story resumes in Matthew 4:18-24 when we see Jesus walking alone by the sea. Peter and Andrew where fishing while James and John were mending their nets. Jesus called out to them “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”. Immediately they dropped everything and followed him. These men were professional fishermen, this was their livelihood, this wasn’t some hobby they were engaged in.

Luke’s account is different from that, and it may be a third episode of Jesus calling Peter (who was called Simon) and James and John, although no mention is made of Andrew. In Luke 5:1-11, Jesus is being crowded by the people who had witnessed miracles and heard his teaching. Seeing a boat by the water’s edge he asked Peter to push it out a little and he sat there teaching the people. Once he finished he told Peter to go deeper and put the nets out. Peter was a professional fisherman; he knew how to catch fish. He had been out all night and caught nothing, he was tired and while he respected Jesus, he may not have been impressed with being told how to do his job, nevertheless he did as he was asked. Even though he knew it was a waste of time.

The catch of fish was so great that they had to get their partners to help, and Peter was astounded. He fell at Jesus’ feet acknowledging that he, Peter, was a sinner, and that Jesus was Lord. Jesus reiterated his promise that if they followed him, they would become fishers of men.

These three accounts may be variations of the same event seen from different angles, or as suggested here may be the process of Jesus confirming his invitation. This process may be one that you and I have experienced. Our first encounter with Jesus has brought us into a relationship with him but we were not entirely committed. He calls us again and this time we respond by doing the things we believe are expected of a good follower of Jesus. It is not until we recognize him as Lord and confess our own weakness in absolute surrender though, that we truly become his disciples. Jesus calls us to follow him, from time to time he will repeat that invitation until like the disciples, we have left everything and follow.

  1. Have you followed Jesus with the crowd but have not yet committed yourself fully to him?
  2. Are you loving as a good Christian, but never surrendered everything?
  3. Is there anything you would refuse to let go of if Jesus asked you to leave it behind?

 

  1. 呼召的耶穌

約翰福音 1:35

聖經第一次記載有人跟隨耶穌是在他受洗的時候。在當時的傳統,男孩研讀猶太律法,有些會繼續進修,而另一些會學些門藝或在領域找工作。青年人依附於師父並成為他們徒弟並不罕見。施洗約翰也是如此。當他宣布耶穌是上帝的羔羊時,他的兩個門徒開始接近耶穌。他們是約翰和雅各和彼得的兄弟安得烈。他們問耶穌住在哪裡,他的回答是:「來看看吧。」那時已將近黃昏,約翰和安德魯那天和耶穌在一起。

安德魯去找他的兄弟,並說服他他們已找到了彌賽亞,所以他也跟隨耶穌。第二天,當他們前往加利利時遇到腓力,耶穌也呼召他跟從,腓力帶了拿但業來。幾天後,當他們在迦拿參加一個婚禮時,耶穌行了他第一個奇蹟,然後他去了耶路撒冷,約翰記錄了耶穌在那裡第一次將兌換商趕出聖殿。

耶穌選擇門徒的方式在福音書均有所不同,或許是三次不同的呼召,他的門徒在這期間各自回家了。如果情況是這樣,那麼彼得、安德魯、雅各和約翰回到他們的捕魚工作。故事在馬太福音 4:18-24 中繼續,當時我們看到耶穌獨自在海邊行走。彼得和安德魯在捕魚,而雅各和約翰正在修補漁網。耶穌呼喚他們「來跟從我,我要使你們得人如得魚一樣。」他們立刻放下一切,跟著他。這些人都是專業的漁民,這是他們的生計,這不是他們從事的愛好。

路加的記載與此不同,可能是耶穌呼召彼得(西門)、雅各和約翰的第三次,但沒有提到安德烈。在路加福音 5:1-11 中,耶穌被那些目睹奇蹟和聽過他教導的人包圍著。他看到湖邊有一條船,讓彼得把它駛開一點,他就坐在那裡教訓人。完成後,他告訴彼得再駛開到深水,把網放下去。彼得是一名職業漁夫,對捕魚瞭若指掌。他整夜在外面一無所獲,也很累,雖然他尊重耶穌,但他可能不太高興被人指令如何做他的工作。儘管知道這是在浪費時間,他還是按照耶穌的話去做了。

他們捕獲的魚的數量大得要立即叫伙伴來幫忙,彼得很震驚,俯伏在耶穌腳前,承認自己是一個罪人,耶穌是主。耶穌重申了他的應許,如果他們跟從他,就會成為得人的漁夫。

這三個記載可能是從不同角度看同一事件,或者如這裡所建議的,可能是耶穌確認他的呼召的過程。這過程可能也是你我所經歷的。我們與耶穌的第一次相遇使我們與他建立關係,但我們沒有完全委身。他再次呼喚我們,這一次我們以自己心意來回應耶穌。直到我們承認他是主,並承認我們在弱點中絕對臣服,我們才真正成為他的門徒。耶穌呼召我們跟從他,他會不時地重複這邀請,直到我們像門徒一樣,拋下一切跟從他。

  1. 你是否只跟著別人一起跟隨耶穌,而沒有完全委身於他?
  2. 作為一個好基督徒,你是否有愛心,但從未放棄一切?
  3. 你有沒有東西是耶穌要你放棄但你不能放棄嗎?

 

 

  1. First things first

Mark 1:17-20

Jesus was recruiting. He didn’t put advertisements on Job finder or hang out in the marketplace looking for potential candidates; he didn’t ask for resumes or provide a selection criterion to be addressed. He went for a walk by the lake and when he saw men he thought suitable he called to them to join him. What was it about these men that stood out? Later he added others including an hated tax collector and a couple of revolutionaries, why them. Why not men of influence, teachers and scholars maybe even a lawyer or two?

Laura Kazlas writes: ‘Anyone else who walked by Simon Peter, James and John that day, would not have given them a second thought, because they were just common laborers…Jesus didn’t see Peter and the other fishermen that way, though. What these men did for a living didn’t matter to the Lord at all. He only saw their potential for greatness, in a different line of “work” than what they were currently doing. He had something new in mind for them, to work for the Kingdom of God.’ She may have been underselling Peter, James and John a little though. They were businessmen who owned their owned boats, probably employed others and engaged in trade in the marketplace. But she makes a good point, they were unlikely recruits.

Jesus needed a team to walk with him, to learn from him and later be entrusted to build the kingdom. The first thing they needed to do was commit. The disciples proved their commitment by separating themselves from anything that would tie them down, they were going to follow Jesus wherever he was going. Sometimes people, perhaps you and me, declare that we will follow God, but we just don’t know where he wants to take us and if we knew that then we would commit ourselves fully. If we really want the wind of the Spirit to blow our boat in the right direction, we first need to untie it from the jetty! These first disciples untied themselves from anything that kept them from following.

Jesus had a task in mind for these disciples but before they could begin there was something more important. They had to spend time with Jesus. When Andrew and John first met Jesus they went and stayed with him, when Jesus called the others, it was to follow him. They needed to be with him, to learn from him; to see him pray, respond to confrontation, offer mercy instead of judgment, take time to rest. Some years later when Peter and John were thrown in gaol for teaching about Jesus the rulers, elders and scribes “when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” What these men needed to equip them for the challenges they were to face was time with Jesus.

You have been invited to follow Jesus, he may have a huge task with major responsibility for you to undertake, or he may expect you to follow your vocation in a calm unremarkable way. Of course, the challenge of sharing the good news is never unremarkable and is always a major responsibility, wherever we are called upon to do it. Like the disciples what you need most is time with Jesus. We can become incredibly ‘busy’ doing stuff that we think is important, but it may take us from what is most important, time with Jesus. He said to his disciples when the crowd clamoured for attention: ““Come with Me privately to a solitary place, and let us rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they went away in a boat by themselves to a solitary place”. If you plan to be a follower of Jesus, first of all take time to spend with him.

  1. Have you untied your boat from the jetty?
  2. Do you take time to spend with Jesus?
  3. Do you thing being ‘busy’ is a virtue?

 

 

 

  1. 要做的第一件事

馬可福音 1:17-20

耶穌正在呼召門徒。他沒有在招聘報上投放廣告,也沒有到市場找有潛力的候選人;他沒有要求提供簡歷或入職標準。他去湖邊散步,他看到合適的人時,就呼召他們。這些人有什麼特別之處?後來他又呼召更多人,包括一個為人可憎的稅吏和幾個革命者,為什麼選中他們?為什麼不要有影響力的人,教師和學者,甚至是律師?

Laura Kazlas 寫道:「那天從彼得、雅各和約翰身邊走過的人都不會對他們有興趣,因為他們只是普通的基層工人……但耶穌並沒有那樣看待這些漁民。他們以什麼為生對耶穌來說無關緊要。他只看到了他們的潛力,不是他們目前所做的不同的「工作」。他對他們有計劃,為上帝的國工作。」Laura可能低估了彼得、雅各和約翰。他們是擁有船隻的商人,可能有僱用其他人從事貿易。但她說得很好,他們不太似是耶穌的新兵。

耶穌需要一個團隊與他同行,向他學習,然後受託建立上帝的國度。他們需要做的第一件事就是順服。門徒以放棄所有束縛他們的事物來證明他們的承諾,無論他去哪裡,他們都會跟著。許多人,包括你和我,宣稱我們會跟隨上帝,但我們不知道衪想帶我們去哪裡,如果我們真的知道,就會完全委身。如果我們真的想讓聖靈的風把我們的船吹往正確的方向,我們首先需要把它從碼頭上解開!這些的門徒擺脫了阻止他們跟隨耶穌的束縛。

耶穌為這些門徒預備了任務,但在他們開始之前,還有更重要的事情要做。他們不得不花時間與耶穌在一起。當安得烈和約翰第一次遇見耶穌時,就到他那裡住宿,當耶穌呼喚其他人時,就是要跟從他。他們需要與他在一起,向他學習,見證他祈禱,回應其他人的對抗,施憐憫而不定罪,花時間休息等。幾年後,彼得和約翰因教導長老和文士有關耶穌的事蹟而被關進監獄,但「當他們看到彼得和約翰的膽量,又看出他們是沒受過教育的普通人時,就很驚訝。他們認出他們曾與耶穌在一起。」這些人以應付這些挑戰所需要的裝備,就是與耶穌在一起的時間。

耶穌邀請你跟隨他,他也可能有艱鉅的任務要你承擔,或者他只想你以一種平淡無奇的方式活出你的召命。當然,分享福音的挑戰從來不是平淡無奇的,而且是一項重大責任,無論我們被召在哪裡分享福音。像門徒一樣,你最需要的是花時間親近耶穌。我們可能會很「忙碌」做我們以為重要的事情,但這會使我們失去與耶穌一起的最重要的時間。當時人群在包圍他們時,他對門徒說:「『你和我獨自到一個僻靜的地方,讓我們休息一會兒。』許多人來來往往,連吃飯的時間都沒有。他們便自己乘船去了一個偏僻的地方。」如果你打算跟隨耶穌,首先要花時間親近他。

  1. 你有沒有把你的船從碼頭上解開?
  2. 你花時間親近耶穌嗎?
  3. 你認為「忙碌」是一種美德嗎?

 

 

  1. Leaving everything?

Luke 14:33

Does becoming a follower of Jesus mean I have to give up my home, life, career and live in poverty? No, Jesus is not saying that, but he is insisting that our priorities must change. The Theology of Work Project (TOW) when commenting on Matthew’s account of the call of the disciples writes: “We may not have to give up our jobs, but in a sense, we become double agents for God’s kingdom. We may remain in our workplace. We may perform the same tasks. But now we employ our work to serve the new kingdom and our new master.”

Jesus outlined the lifestyle required of one of his followers when he delivered the sermon on the mount. A call from Jesus may or not change what we do for a living, it always changes why we work. As followers of Jesus, we work above all to serve him. In turn, this leads to a change in how we work, and especially how we treat other people. When the prophet Jeremiah wrote to Jews after they were sent into captivity many years before, he instructed them: “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.  Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.  But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7ff). The Jews were in exile, under the authority of a foreign king, but while they were there, they were to be good citizens. We too live as exiles in a foreign land, waiting for the return of our King until that happens we are to live as citizens of kingdom of God.

As followers of Jesus we are called to be radical.  “We are challenged in the work we do. To the extent possible, we should seek to do those things that bring human flourishing. We do those things that support people’s dreams and bring healing to the brokenness around us. As followers of Jesus, we work above all to serve him. In turn, this leads to a change in how we work, and especially how we treat other people. The ways of the new King include compassion, justice, truth, and mercy; the ways of the old prince of this world are devastation, apathy, oppression, deceit, and vindictiveness” (TOW).

There will be those who Jesus calls to a level of discipleship that involves giving up their business or career, to abstain from marriage or relocate to another land or community. They may be denied the opportunity to work for an income and rely on the gifts and support of other believers and they may not enjoy the trappings of the standard of living enjoyed by fellow Christians. This is not the experience of most believers though. Like the Jews in Jeremiah’s day, who were to engage in the commercial, social and civic life of their community; to marry and have children, engage in business and support the community. They were to live out the principles of God’s kingdom in a hostile environment, and so are we.

When Jesus calls us to follow him and leave everything behind, he is insisting that our first priority and allegiance is to him. Following him is more important than where we live, the car we drive or the career path we choose. His priorities will determine how we spend our money and where we take our holidays. He will decide how many children married couples will have and whether their academic or sporting futures is more important than their worship of his Father in heaven. He must be Lord in every arena of life, there is no room for half hearted commitment. He is calling for followers who will become disciples. Are you one of them?

  1. What are the principles of the Kingdom that determine how you conduct yourself at work?
  2. If every believer lived out kingdom principles, would it make a difference to the workplace?
  3. Are you willing to put Jesus before any other consideration when making life decisions?

 

  1. 撇下一切?

路加福音 14:33

當我成為耶穌的門徒時,是否要放棄家庭、生活、事業,並要生活在貧困中?不,耶穌不是這麼說,他要我們改變優先次序。工作神學(Theology of Work Project, TOW)評論馬太對門徒被呼召的記載寫道:「我們不一定要放棄工作,但另一角度看,我們成為天國的雙重代理人。我們可繼續原來的工作,執行相同的任務,但現在我們的工作是為事奉天國和新主人。」

耶穌在登山寶訓中,概述了他對門徒所要求的生活方式。耶穌的呼召不一定改變我們的謀生方式,但它總會改變我們工作的動機。作為耶穌的門徒,我們努力服侍他。反過來,這會改變我們的工作形式,更會改變我們對待他人的方式。先知耶利米在猶太人被擄多年後,寫信吩咐他們說:「要建造房屋,居住在其中;種植花園並享用當中的成果。娶妻生子;為你的兒子娶妻,讓你的女兒出嫁,生兒育女;在那裡倍增,不要減少。但要尋求我把你放逐到那裡的城市的福祉,並為它祈求上帝,因為在它的福祉中,你會找到自己的福祉」 (耶利米書 29:7ff)。那時猶太人被放逐,受外邦王的統治,但他們在那裡要成為好的公民。我們也像他們一樣流亡異國他鄉,在等待我們的君王歸來時,我們要作為神國度的公民而生活。

作為耶穌的門徒,我們被呼召活出激進的生命。 「我們在工作中面臨各種挑戰。我們隨時都要努力做榮神益人的事情。我們做的事要實現他人的夢想,並醫治我們周圍破碎的生命。作為耶穌的追隨者,我們首先要侍奉他。反過來,這會改變我們的工作方式,尤其是我們對待他人的方式。新的王要求慈悲、正義、真理和憐憫;而這個世界所追求的是破壞,冷漠,壓迫,欺騙和報復(TOW)。」

有些人會被耶穌呼召成為門徒時要放棄他們的生意或事業、不結婚或搬遷到另一地方或社區。他們可能被剝奪了賺取收入的機會,並依賴其他信徒的恩賜和支持,他們可能無法享受其他基督徒同工所享受的生活水平。但這不是大多數信徒的經歷。就像耶利米時代的猶太人一樣,他們在社區中從事各樣商業和公民生活方式、結婚生子、經商和支持社區。他們要在充滿敵意的環境中活出上帝的國度的原則,我們也要如此。

當耶穌呼召我們跟隨他並拋開一切時,他堅持我們的首要任務就是效忠於他。跟隨他比我們居住的地方、駕駛的車或選擇的職業更為重要。他的優先次序將決定我們如何花錢、去哪裡渡假、將有多少孩子,以及他們的學業或體育前途,一切不及敬拜天上的父親有多麼重要。耶穌必須是生活的每一個領域的主,沒有半心半意的委身的餘地。他正在呼召他的追隨者成為門徒,你是其中之一嗎?

  1. 天國有哪些原則決定了你在工作中如何待人物?
  2. 如果每個信徒都活出天國的原則,這會對職場產生什麼影響?
  3. 你在人生抉擇中願意把耶穌放在所有其他考慮之上嗎?

 

 

  1. A Calling, or just a job?

Acts 18:1-4

Is the job you are in a calling – or is it just a way to make money to pay the bills? Have you ever thought about your job in terms of it being God’s chosen place of ministry for you? If you haven’t now would be a good time to start. God has prepared and equipped you to glorify him in the work that he has provided for you, but sometimes we are less than sure that the place where we work is where God wants us to be. How can we know that we are in the place of God’s chosen appointment?

In the first place it is really important to think of your work as your ministry, not just the place of your ministry. Sometimes we get the idea that the workplace just provides the context for us to do spiritual things like witness and pray. But we don’t always see the work itself as being a spiritual undertaking. We must start to see work itself as something that God takes pleasure in and is therefore a means by which we may worship him. Whether you are a carpenter, a nurse, an engineer or a salesperson God is interested in what you do and he is pleased when you do a good job. Secondly it may be appropriate to ask yourself whether or not you prayed about your career choice, or whether you actively sought God’s counsel and felt a sense of call to the place you work. After all we expect our missionaries and pastors to be ‘called’ to their ministry so why shouldn’t you?

It may be that you have a sense of calling to be a teacher, or pastor, evangelist or some other type of ‘full time’ ministry, but you need to work in order to pay the bills. Paul found himself in this position when he engaged in the trade of tent making. It is unlikely that he saw this as God’s primary call on his life but circumstance made it necessary or desirable for him take on this work. What then about your work in these situations? I am sure the quality of Paul’s tents was beyond reproach, I am equally sure that he didn’t overcharge his customers or cheat his suppliers. I am quite certain that everything he did in his place of work was with a mind to glorifying God and acting properly toward outsiders. This clearly is to be your attitude to your employment when you find yourself in need of finding work in order to support the ministry that God has called you to.

The Bible tells us that Peter left his nets to follow Jesus, while he did go back to fishing for a while, this was not God’s calling on his life. Matthew stopped being a tax collector when he decided to follow Jesus, but there is no suggestion that Zacchæus resigned from his business. In fact his encounter with Jesus caused him to start doing business in a Godly way. Erastus continued as the city treasurer while a follower of Paul and there is nothing to indicate that Lydia gave up her business interests after her conversion. On the other hand there were others who were dependent upon the church for their financial support. The issue here is not whether the type of work you are doing is spiritual or not, in fact all work is, for the believer, spiritual, but whether or not it is God’s idea for you to be in that place of work.

Are you working in the place God wants you to be? Is this so that you can serve him in other ministry elsewhere or in addition to your work, or is it the primary place of service for you? Be clear in your mind about these things, it is not that your attitude to your work should change (unless it’s out of sync with God’s will now) but that your understanding of God’s eternal purposes for your workplace and your part in it may need to be re-evaluated. If your work is your primary place of ministry, then it must be first priority in your service. Other legitimate activities, even church based activities, must not be allowed to encroach on the time and energy you give to your ministry. Remember this is not your job – it is your calling. It is the ministry that God has equipped and enabled you for.  (reprinted from: https://rwfoster.org/2021/01/21/a-calling-or-just-a-job/)

  1. Do you think God has called you into the job you have?
  2. Does that change the way you think about it?
  3. In what ways can you build the kingdom in the career path you follow?

 

  1. 一個呼召,還是一份工作?

使徒行傳 18:1-4

你正在從事的工作是你的呼召 – 還是只是一種賺錢維生的方式?你有否想過你的工作是上帝為你選擇的事工?如果你沒有,現在是開始的好時機。上帝已裝備了你,讓你在衪為你預備的工作中榮耀衪,但有時我們不太確定我們工作地方是否就是上帝的旨意。我們怎麼知道我們是在神所揀選的地方呢?

首先,你的工作就是你的事工,不僅是你事工的地點,這點非常重要。有時我們以為工作地點只是我們作見證或祈禱等屬靈活動的環境。但我們許多時候忘記工作本身也是屬靈的。我們必須開始將工作本身視為上帝所喜悅的事情,因此工作就是我們敬拜上帝的一種方式。無論你是木匠、護士、工程師還是銷售員,上帝都對你所做的感興趣,當你在工作上有出色的表現時,衪會喜悅。其次,問問自己有否為你選擇職業禱告,你是否積極尋求上帝的旨意,清楚你的工作是上帝給你的呼召。畢竟,我們期望傳教士和牧師被上帝「呼召」,那你不是也應該被呼召做你的工作嗎?

你可能被呼召成為教師、牧師、傳道人或其他類型的「全職」事工,但你也需要工作才能維持生計。保羅也發現自己處於這個位置,因此他從事帳篷製作。他不一定相信這就是上帝給他的主要呼召,但環境迫使他需要承擔這工作。那麼你在這情況下會作什麼呢?我確信保羅帳篷的質量是不錯的,我也確信他沒有向客戶收取過高費用或欺騙供應商。我敢肯定他在工作中所做的一切都是為了榮耀上帝和造福人。當你發現自己需要找工作以支持上帝呼召你從事的事工時,這顯然應該是你的工作態度。

聖經告訴我們,彼得捨了他的漁網跟從了耶穌,但他確實有一段時間回去捕魚,這不是上帝給他生命的呼召。當馬太決定跟隨耶穌時,他不再做稅吏的工作。但撒該沒有表明他辭去原來的生意,他與耶穌的相遇使他開始以敬虔的方式做生意。 Erastus 在跟隨保羅的同時繼續擔任城市財政的主管。聖經也沒有顯示呂底亞(Lydia)在決定信主後放棄了她對生意的興趣。另一方面,其他人則需要依賴教會的經濟支持。這裡的問題不是你所做的工作是否屬靈的,所有的工作對信徒來說都是屬靈的,問題是你選擇的工作是否上帝的旨意。

你在做上帝呼召你做的工作嗎?這是為了你可在事工服侍,或在你的工作外的領域服侍,還是這就是你的主要事工?我們要清楚知道。這不是要求你的工作態度改變(除非它不符合神的旨意),而是你要重新評估上帝對你工作的永恆旨意以及你在其中的角色。如果你的工作是事奉的主要場所,那麼它必須是你的首要任務。其他活動,甚至包括教會的活動,也不能佔用你事工的時間和精力。記住這不是你的工作——這是你的召命。這是上帝為你裝備和賦予你能力的事工。 (轉載自:https://rwfoster.org/2021/01/21/a-calling-or-just-a-job/)

  1. 你認為上帝呼召你從事你現在的工作嗎?
  2. 這會改變你對工作的想法嗎?
  3. 你如何在你所選擇的職業道路上建立上帝的國?

 

 

 

 

  1. Come aside for a while

Mark 6:31

In the sixth chapter of his gospel, Mark records that Jesus returned to his hometown after a period of teaching, healing and casting out demons. He had even brought a young girl back to health who the crowd believed to be dead and his reputation had grown. The locals could not believe that this man, Jesus was the son of Mary, they didn’t refer to his father and may have been hinting that he was possibly an illegitimate child, but they did place him in a family of brothers and sisters. Rather than recognizing God’s work through the hands of Jesus, they were offended. They chose to see the negative instead of the positive. God couldn’t possibly use a nobody like this, one of doubtful parentage someone without qualification or endorsement by all the right people, could he? It must be a show, some trick or other. These are my comments and are not stated in the gospel, but Jesus did say: “A prophet is not without honour, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” Apart from a few ‘little’ miracles he was unable to do the things that he had done before. He could not force himself on the people, they chose unbelief. Many of us would be happy with just a few little miracles, even while it is possible that God has another means of reaching the people who have rejected us. Jesus was not content with that.

Mark tells us that after being personally rejected he called together the 12 he had chosen to be his apostles and gave them the authority to do what the people would not accept from him. He sent them out in pairs with authority to preach, heal and cast out demons. There is another challenge in this for us. Are we prepared to give others the privilege and recognition to do things we cannot? Will we send others when we have been rejected, assuming that if something is going to happen, we have to be the ones to do it? Jesus sent out others in his place, with his authority. They had spent time with him, learnt from him and he trusted them.

After a period Jesus recalled the apostles and they began to give him a report. No doubt they were excited, and started to tell stories about the sick people who had been healed, all the demons they had cast out and how people had listened to their teaching and repented. They were full of energy, comparing stories, talking over each other: “Wasn’t it great, did you see the crowd? What about that man who was clearly possessed, yelling and screaming and carrying on, it took three men to hold him down! And what about the blind man, one touch and there he was, perfect vision…” But Jesus interrupted. “Come with me, by yourselves to a lonely, desert place and rest”. Jesus called them to go with him and to rest.

He called them away from their success and excitement to a lonely place. A place where there was no crowd, no applause, no pats on the back. They needed time to spend with Jesus, apart from all else and to rest. They were probably running on nervous energy. It is easy to find enthusiasm when things are going well, when we are seeing success and the admiring glances of others, the last thing we want to do is go off to the desert. But Jesus calls us to a lonely place, to be with him. We live in a time and place were being busy is a virtue, rest is for the unmotivated and the unsuccessful. Every hour must be filled with some worthwhile activity. Jesus thought differently “come aside and rest” he said. Take time to spend with me, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15). If you want to live in the strength that God provides, then come aside to a lonely place, with Jesus, to rest.

  1. Have you intentionally taken time aside to rest this with Jesus this week?
  2. How easy is it to stop and reflect when you are excited about what you are seeing God do?
  3. When things are not going so well do you just try harder, or spend more time with Jesus?

 

 

 

  1. 來休息一會吧

馬可福音 6:31

在馬可福音第六章,馬可記載耶穌經過一段時間的教導、醫治和趕鬼後回到自己的家鄉。他讓一個人眾認為已死了的女孩復活,因此他的名聲也越來越大。但當地人無法相信這耶穌就是瑪利亞的兒子,他們沒有提到他父親的名字,可能暗示他是一個私生子,卻認出他的兄弟姐妹。他們沒有因為耶穌行的事蹟而認識上帝的工作,反而被冒犯了。他們選擇只看負面而不看正面。對他們來說,上帝是不會使用一個出身可疑、沒有資格、沒有學歷的人,不是嗎?他們想這必定是一場表演或某種陰謀。雖然這些只是我的個人評論,福音書中沒有提到,但耶穌確實說過:「先知到處受人尊敬,只有在本鄉、本族、本家例外。」除了一些「小」奇蹟,耶穌以前行過的事蹟他也做不了。他不能把自己強加於人,他們選擇了不信。我們當中有許多人會為一些小奇蹟而興奮起來,而上帝可以透過另一種方式接觸那些拒絕我們的人。耶穌並沒有因此而滿足。

馬可告訴我們,耶穌在被拒絕後召集了他所選擇的 12 位使徒,並授予他們權力去做群眾不願接受他做的事情。他差遣他們出去傳道、醫病和趕鬼。但對我們來說還有另一個挑戰。我們準備好給予他人特權和承認,去做我們不能做的事情嗎?當我們被拒絕時,我們會否差遣其他人,並假設如有事發生時,我們必須自己去做?耶穌以他的權柄差派其他人代表他。他們與他共渡時光,向他學習,而他信任他們。

過了一會,耶穌召回使徒,他們就非常興奮,開始向他彙報,並講述那些得醫治的病人、被他們趕走的惡魔,以及人如何聽他們的教導並悔改。他們興奮地講故事,議論紛紛:「是不是很棒,你看到人潮了嗎?那明顯被鬼附的人大吼大叫,要三個男人才將他壓住!那盲人呢,我們輕輕一按,他就有完美的視力……」但耶穌打斷他們,說:「跟我來,到一個偏僻的地方休息。」耶穌吩咐他們和他一起去休息。

他把他們從成功和興奮中召回到一個孤獨的地方,一個沒有群眾,沒有掌聲,沒有人拍他們背去鼓勵他們的地方。他們可能腎上腺素飆升,但最需要的是與耶穌一起,拋開其他一切煩惱。當事情進展順利時,我們很容易活在興奮之中,當我們看到成功和別人的讚賞時,最不想做的就是到偏僻的曠野。但是耶穌呼召我們到一個孤獨的地方,與他在一起。我們都認為生活在忙碌中是一種美德,休息是給那些失敗和缺乏動機的人,我們喜歡每小時都充滿有意義的活動。耶穌的想法卻不同。 他說:「你過來休息一下,花時間陪我,歸來安息,就必得救;安靜和信心是你的力量」(以賽亞書 30:15)。如果你想靠著上帝所賜的力量生活,那麼到一個孤獨的地方與耶穌一起休息吧。

  1. 本週你有沒有刻意抽出時間與耶穌一起休息?
  2. 當你對看到上帝所做的事感到興奮時,要停下來反思有多容易?
  3. 當事情不如意時,你會加倍努力,還是花更多的時間與耶穌一起?

 

  1. Come if you are worn out

Matthew 11:28

When Jesus spoke the words: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden” it is not immediately clear who he was talking to. He had been addressing the crowds and then rebuked the cities and compared them unfavourably to Tyre and Sidon and even Sodom, all cities that suffered severe and catastrophic judgement. After this he turned to his Father and expressed thanks that the wise and understanding among the people couldn’t understand what he was saying and only those who came as children would make sense of it. After this denunciation of the people, he uttered the words “come to me, if you are heavy laden and I will give you rest”.

Often when we recall these verses, we gratefully accept that Jesus offers us rest when we are tired out. He joins himself to us with his own yoke to carry our burden and ease the strain we are feeling. We may assume too that he was speaking of the disciples who were worn out from following him and doing the things he asked of them. We can draw comfort for both of these situations; When we are worn down by life and its obligations, he will share the load and when he calls us to come, we do so with profound relief. If we are exhausted by the obligations placed on us, and the load has become too difficult to bear, then the promise of someone to shoulder the burden is cheerfully accepted.

While the call of Jesus to come to him holds the promise of both of these things, he is actually speaking to the Jewish people who were struggling under the burden of trying to keep the law. They believed that the only way to gain a right relationship with God was to follow all the rules. It ws not only hard work, it was an impossible task. The wise men among them taught this was the only way for them to gain the kingdom of God and they made it more difficult by adding more and more rules. In the midst of this tiring cycle of rule keeping, failure, offering of sacrifices and starting all over again, Jesus calls out to them, “Come”. His Yoke is easy because it freed them from the tyranny of rule keeping, he called them to rest in the work that he completed rather than try to do the work themselves. This turned everything the wise teachers among them believed and taught on its head, they simply could not a understand it nor accept it. Only those with a simple childlike faith could do that.

We no longer live under the rule of law and so we do not follow the sacrificial rituals that the Jews were subject to, but how often do we believe that our relationship with God is dependent upon us obeying the rules? When Jesus calls us to come and receive his free gift of grace, do we still think there is something we must do to deserve it. Do we think that God does not hear our prayers because we have not been obedient enough; or because we made a wrong choice he will no longer let us follow his direction for our lives?

Do you get tired because you can’t keep the rules all of the time? Are you worn out by trying to live a good Christian life? If you answer yes, then Jesus is calling you: “Come to me, all of you who are worn out by the pressures of life and keeping rules and I will give you rest. Let me take the burden off you because I have kept all the rules on your behalf. Just trust me and accept what I have to offer by faith.” Jesus invites you to stop struggling to be good enough and to rest in his finished work on your behalf. Don’t ignore his invitation, just come.

  1. How do you “come” to Jesus?
  2. Do you have to obedient to be a good Christian?
  3. What happens if you don’t keep all the rules?

 

 

 

  1. 你累了就來吧

馬太福音 11:28

當耶穌說:「凡勞苦擔重擔的都到我這裡來」,我們並不清楚他說話的對象是誰。他當時正在講道,然後斥責不同的城市,將它們與推羅、西多和所多瑪等遭受災難性審判的城市比較。然後他轉向天父,感謝天父使有智慧的人不能明白他的教導,卻讓像小孩子般單純的人明白。在這番說話後,他說:「所有勞苦、背負重擔的人,到我這裡來吧,我要賜給你們安息。」

我們每想起這些段經文,通常會感激地接受耶穌在我們疲倦時讓我們休息。他用自己的軛與我們聯合起來,減輕我們的負擔和壓力。我們也可以假設他是在指那些因跟隨和服從他而疲憊不堪的門徒。對於這兩種情況,我們都可以得到安慰;當我們被生活各樣事務所累得疲倦不堪時,他為我們分擔重擔,當他呼喚我們來時,我們會深感恩慰。如果我們被煩瑣的任務累得筋疲力盡,負擔太重時,必會欣然接受有人承諾為我們分擔。

雖然耶穌的呼召包含了這兩種應許,但他實際上是針對那些在努力遵守律法的重擔下掙扎的猶太人。他們相信與上帝建立關係的唯一方法就是遵守所有規則。這不僅是一項艱苦的工作,而且是不可能的。他們當中的領袖教導這是他們進入天國的唯一途徑,他們更通過越來越多的規則來增加難度。他們不斷遵守規則、失敗、獻祭贖罪、又重新開始,在這艱苦的循環中,耶穌呼喚他們:「來吧。」他的軛是很容易的,因為它把人從律法的暴政中解放出來,讓他們在耶穌已完成的工作中休息,而不是自己硬著做。這跟他們的老師所相信和教導的一切都是完全相反的。他們根本無法理解,也無法接受。只有那些有單純孩子般信心的人才能理解。

我們不再活在律法之下,所以我們不遵循猶太人的祭祀儀式,但我們不都認為我們與上帝的關係是依賴於我們遵守規則嗎?當耶穌呼召我們來接受他白白的恩典禮物時,我們是否仍以為我們必須做一些事情才能配得上?我們是否仍以為上帝因為我們不夠順服而不聽我們的禱告?還是我們因著某些錯誤的選擇而不能活出衪的計劃?

你是否因著不能遵守所有規則而感到疲倦?你是否為了做一個好基督徒而筋疲力盡?如果你答「是」,那麼耶穌正呼喚你:「你們所有因著生活壓力和遵循規則而疲倦的人都來找我吧,我會讓你們休息。讓我卸下你的負擔,因為我已經為你滿足了律法的所有要求。只要相信我,憑著信心接受我所提供的一切。」耶穌邀請你不再為要自己做得好而掙扎,並在他為你完成的工作中享受休息。不要不理會他的邀請,來吧。

  1. 你如何「來到」耶穌面前?
  2. 你認為你必須順服才能成為一個好基督徒嗎?
  3. 3. 如果你不遵守所有規則會怎樣?

 

 

7.Have you caught anything?

John 21:4,5

Sometime after Jesus had risen from the dead some of the disciples decided to go fishing. They had seen Jesus a few times since the resurrection. and he had performed a few miracles but they were still confused. What were they supposed to do now? Jesus had visited them a little earlier and told them he was sending them out on a mission, he even breathed the Holy spirit into their lives. This was in anticipation of what was to come on the day of Pentecost. Luke writes that Jesus told them that they were to wait in the city until they were clothed in power, so this was a little later than their encounter at the Sea of Galilee.

Peter and the others were professional fisherman, they weren’t just going to wander down to the water’s edge and cast a line. They were taking their boat out, hoping to get a commercial catch. They fished all night and caught nothing, and when morning came a stranger appeared on the beach and called out to them “have you caught anything?”. Their answer was a little terse: “No”. After a hard night of unsuccessfully casting out and hauling in nets they were probably in no mood for conversation, but the stranger told them to try the other side of the boat. I don’t know what would have been in the minds of these men when this unknown person was giving them, professional fisherman, advice on how to fish, but they did as he suggested. Maybe they thought they had nothing to lose, why not give it one last shot? So over the side of the boat went the net, and to their astonishment it was filled with so many fish they couldn’t haul it in!

John immediately recognized that this was Jesus, and when Peter recognized him too, he jumped out of the boat, leaving the others to bring the fish to land. When they got out of their boat and joined Peter, they saw that Jesus had found his own fish from somewhere and organized a barbecue, he asked the disciples to add some more fish and then invited them to breakfast.

The story is full of miracles. Why were there suddenly fish on the wrong side of the boat, why did the disciples take the advice of a stranger, where did Jesus get his fish from, why weren’t the nets torn, why didn’t they recognize Jesus until he chose to reveal himself and where did he come from anyway? The disciples may have been longing to get answers to these questions, but Jesus just said, “Come and have breakfast”. This was the most important thing on his mind. They were hungry, had worked all night, they needed to be fed. After breakfast Jesus spoke with Peter about the responsibility he was placing on him, but first they needed to eat.

Jesus came to the disciples when they were tired, disappointed, and probably disillusioned. They had worked hard all night for nothing, Jesus had told them something was going to happen but then he disappeared. What were they supposed to do now? Sometimes in life we can become disillusioned too. We have worked hard, but the results are not there; all of our expectations have come to nothing. We took risks, stepped out in faith, for what? In those times Jesus calls out to us: “Have you caught anything? No? Then don’t give up. Try the other side of the boat”. We may have to take another risk, try one more time, do something different, trust in the one who calls us. There was no doubt in Jesus’s advice “Cast your net on the other side and you will find a catch”.  Trust him, listen to his voice and instead of wondering about why things happen as they do, accept his invitation to join him for breakfast. He has already got the barbecue lit and the preparations made. He knows you will find a big catch.

  1. Do you feel disappointed or disillusioned and want to give up?
  2. If Jesus asked you to do something different, that didn’t sound right, would you do it?
  3. Are you ready to leave all your questions unanswered and just enjoy his company?

 

 

  1. 你們釣到魚嗎?

約翰福音 21:4,5

耶穌復活後不久,一些門徒去了釣魚,他們雖然見過耶穌幾次面,更見證他行了一些奇蹟,但他們仍感到困惑。他們現在該怎麼辦?耶穌早些時候曾向他們顯現,說要差派他們去完成使命,並要賜聖靈給他們。這是為預備五旬節將要發生的事情。路加寫道,耶穌吩咐他們留在城裡等候,直到上帝賜予他們權柄,所以這是他們在加利利海的相遇後發生的。

彼得等人都是專業漁夫,當時並不是隨便到湖邊撒個網。他們正把船開出去,希望得到一些收穫幫補生計。他們整夜在打魚,仍一無所獲,到天亮時,一個陌生人在海灘上出現了,對他們喊道:「你們有沒有釣到什麼?」他們粗魯地回答:「沒有。」經過整夜一無所獲的拋網和拉網,他們可能沒有心情交談,但陌生人告訴他們嘗試拋網到船的另一邊。我不知道當這陌生人指點這些專業漁夫時,他們會怎麼想,但他們按照他的建議做了。也許他們已覺得沒有什麼可失去的,為什麼不最後一搏呢?於是,他們在船的另一側拋了網,令他們驚訝的是,網被魚充滿得拖不上來!

約翰立刻認出是耶穌,彼得也認出,就跳下船,讓其他人拖魚網上岸。當他們下船和彼得在一起時,他們看到耶穌手上已經有魚,並開始燒烤,他讓門徒再添加他們的魚,然後邀請他們一起吃早餐。

這故事有許多奇妙的細節。為什麼船的另一邊突然有這麼多魚?為什麼門徒會聽這陌生人的勸告?耶穌從哪裡弄到他的魚?為什麼這次網沒有撕破?為什麼他們要耶穌選擇顯現自己時才認出他?還有耶穌是從哪裡來的?門徒可能都一直想著這些問題的答案,但耶穌只是說「來吃吧」。這是他心目中最重要的事情。門徒餓了,整夜工作,他們需要吃點東西。早飯後,耶穌與彼得談到他將要交付給他的使命。但首先他們需要充飢。

耶穌在門徒疲倦、失望和充滿困惑時親近他們。他們一夜辛苦勞作,耶穌早前告訴他們有事要發生,但後來他消失了,他們現在該怎麼辦?我們在生活中也會有充滿困惑的時候。我們努力了,但一無所獲;我們的期望都落空了。我們冒了險,憑著信心走出去,但為了什麼?就在這時候,耶穌向我們呼喊:「你有沒有抓到什麼?沒有?不要放棄。試試船的另一邊。」我們可能不得不繼續冒險,再試一次,嘗試新的方法,相信那呼召我們的耶穌。耶穌的呼召是肯定的:「在另一邊撒網,你必會有收穫。」相信他,傾聽他的聲音,不要去想事情為什麼會這樣發生,而是接受他的邀請和他一起享受早餐,他已經為燒烤和其他一切準備好了,他知道你必會有大收穫。

  1. 你是否感到失望或困惑並想放棄?
  2. 如果耶穌請你嘗試做一些新的,但聽起來不對勁的事情,你會做嗎?
  3. 在所有問題都未有答案時,你仍享受耶穌的同在嗎?