Monday, July 8, 2019
In the Gospels of Luke and John we read three different accounts of the calling of the first disciples to follow Jesus. Luke tells us the story of Levi, better known as Matthew. John tells us the story of Andrew and Philip. There is a common theme in each of these stories: the men who responded to the call of Jesus to follow Him immediately went out and invited someone else to come and meet Jesus.
Luke 5:27-31 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
I see three types of invitations to meet Jesus.
Matthew planned a dinner party with Jesus as the guest of honor. Matthew was not prepared to go out and tell the good news to his friends, but he did use the resources he had available to introduce both friends and business acquaintances to the Author of the good news. Matthew had financial resources, a home that was big enough for entertaining large groups of people, and a network of personal contacts. Everything he had was immediately available for spreading the good news of Jesus the Messiah.
In John 1:35-51, Jesus called two more disciples and they also invited others to meet Him. After spending a day with Jesus, Andrew immediately went out and found his brother Simon and brought him to meet Jesus. His first words to his brother were, “We have found the Messiah!” Simon already knew of the promised Messiah from his Jewish heritage, but it took Andrew to inform him of the fulfillment of the promise.
The next day Philip became a follower of Jesus and immediately found Nathanael, who also had a Jewish heritage but had a serious attitude problem. He would not believe that the Messiah could come from Nazareth. Rather than start a theological argument with him, Philip simply said, “Come and see.” Philip challenged Nathanael to investigate the evidence for himself and make a decision. He didn’t try to convince him, but rather left the convincing to Jesus.
There are three principles we can learn from these three situations that will make us more effective at bringing people to Jesus:
- Use your resources and network of relationships to create opportunities for people to hear the good news and meet Jesus. The church helps us accomplish this by developing consistent ministries like AWANA, Life Groups, Tables of 8, sports and recreation events, and Bible studies. But don’t rely on the church to fulfill your personal goal of sharing the good news with your neighbors and friends. Be creative and provide opportunities using your own resources. Have a neighborhood barbecue at your house. You don’t have to specifically witness to anyone; just let them see the visible evidence of Jesus Christ in your life by how you live and relate to them. God will provide the opportunities to tell them the good news. Be a Matthew and create opportunities for people to meet Jesus.
- Some people are ready to follow Christ if only someone would tell them they can. Even though our culture is fast turning its back on Christ and becoming a nation of humanists rather than God-fearers, there are still many people who have a knowledge of God and a desire to know Him personally. They just haven’t been shown the way. Be an Andrew and invite the spiritually sensitive to meet Jesus.
- Let Jesus handle the tough cases. It is not our responsibility to win a debate and convince others that we are right. Challenge the critical thinker to thoroughly investigate the evidence and trust the Holy Spirit to teach them the truth. Our part in that process is to simply tell them the good news – not to try and prove the good news. Be a Philip and ask people to “Come and see.”
Each of these men was a brand-new follower of Jesus with no personal evangelism training. They simply went out and invited people to meet their Lord. You are fully qualified to do the same. Let’s start inviting!