Even though I grew up in the church, there were a lot of years that I didn’t really follow Jesus. If I’m honest, I wanted to, but I wasn’t sure where He would lead me. It left me wondering if I would eventually regret the choice to do what He asked.
So, I learned about Him, even loved Him. But I wasn’t ready to actually let go of everything and follow Him wherever He would lead. To took me a long time to really learn that following Him is better than anything. Overtime, I moved from knowing about Jesus, to knowing Jesus. And I’ve learned that although the church sometimes makes things complex, following Jesus just requires we listen and obey.
Scripture tells us that those who listen and obey are blessed. So, the simple point is this; when you listen and obey, blessing will come.
If you want to impact the world. Listen and obey.
If you want to see miracles around you. Listen and obey.
If you want to see your neighbors or coworkers lives change. Listen and obey.
If you want to see your family changed. Listen and obey.
If you want your own life to be changed. You guessed it. Listen and obey.
Learning to listen and obey will do two things.
It will bless you and it will impact the world around you.
To see this illustrated, look with me at Luke 5:1-11
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Notice in this passage that there are three chances for Simon to either listen and obey… or not.
His first chance to listen and obey: Push the boat out.
Frankly, this was just a practical thing. In a time before microphones and speakers, this created a floating platform that amplified the voice of Jesus for the people to hear. But Simon’s obedience brought a spiritual blessing for the people around Simon.
God might ask you to do everyday, practical kinds of things. But, you don’t know how He’ll use your faithfulness to bless the people around you.
Will you listen and obey?
His second chance to listen and obey: Let down your net.
Again. This isn’t overly spiritual. But this time, Jesus used the obedience of Simon to bring a physical blessing to him and the community. This act of obedience brought in a massive number of fish. And in a fishing community, what changes lives? Fish!
This was a simple miracle, but it changed the financial picture for the people in this community. It was food for some. Income for others.
Simon’s obedience brought a physical blessing.
I love this part of the story for a few reasons. The biggest one is this… Simon had fished all night and caught nothing.
These were professional fishermen… but even with all their ability, all of their training, experience… they finished the night with no fish.
You see when you listen to Jesus and obey, He will accomplish things that you cannot. This act of obedience was counter-intuitive. But through Simon’s obedience, a miracle was brought about.
At the word of Jesus, the impossible becomes possible.
It’s the word of God that brought everything into existence. And it was the word of God that heals people, free’s captives, changes lives. John 1 says that Jesus is the word made flesh. So, when Jesus gives the word of instruction to Simon, there was a power in it. But, it took an act of obedience to the word on behalf of Simon for it to be accomplished.
There may be things that Jesus wants to do in you and through you and for you… but it will take your being obedient for it to come to fruition.
So, will you listen and obey?
His third chance to listen and obey: Follow Me.
This is the best of them all. Jesus asked Simon to follow Him. What a strange invitation for Simon. At this time, it was very early in Jesus’ public ministry. Even if Simon knew about Jesus, He didn’t really know Jesus yet. But, at the invitation, He left everything and followed.
He heard the invitation of Jesus. And he responded with obedience.
In your own journey, and in that of those around you, Jesus has made an invitation to follow Him. And there comes a point for each of us when we either respond in obedience or rejection. There comes a point for each of us when we move from knowing about Jesus to knowing Jesus.
Notice that Jesus asked and Simon freely obeyed. He left everything to follow Jesus. But Jesus didn’t force Him. That would be kidnapping. I love that Jesus is a gentleman.
Jesus won’t force himself on you. But He will always extend an invitation. It’s your choice if you’ll listen and obey or not.
Because Simon in obedience to Jesus, God used Simon in incredible ways. This act of obedience was sacrificial. It required Simon to leave everything and follow. Jesus might ask you to do something that requires sacrifice.
Because of Simon listening and obeying what God invited Him into, Jesus did amazing things through him and the other disciples. And because of your response of obedience, Jesus might do amazing things through you.
Like… healing, preaching, casting out daemons… just to name a few. Oh, and Simon get’s a name change… He is actually Peter. He is the one to whom Jesus said “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
What an incredible thing… 2000 years later, we’re a part of that very Church.
Peter didn’t know what Jesus was going to do at the onset. He just listened and obeyed.
And the next day, he listened and obeyed. And the next day. And the next day. And every day after.
Jesus does amazing things through people who are willing to listen and obey. But, it rarely seems like it’s gonna be anything special at the onset. It just presents itself as another opportunity for obedience.
In big things and little things, Jesus just asks that we listen and obey.
And the same invitation that He gave to Simon Peter, is the same one He has given to you.
Hang out with me.
Spend time with me.
Obey me and watch what I’ll do.
Think again of John Wesley. Do you think He had a great vision of 30 million people? No. He was just being obedient to the word of God saying “go and make disciples”.
Do you think Billy Graham had high hopes of being a celebrity pastor? Nope. He just responded in obedience to the word of God saying to preach the Gospel.
So, I want to give you some application.
If you listen to God and obey what He says, He will work powerfully through you.
What is Jesus inviting you to do today?
So, Jesus might be inviting you to a specific action. But, more than likely, He’s just saying… follow me!
He just wants you to know him. To listen and obey. And through that obedience, He will do amazing things… and He’ll change the world. But…. it always starts with listening and obeying.