The Big Idea: I would rather die for a worthy cause than live for no reason.
John 1:29-51, Philippians 1:29
Imagine bumping into the President of the United States (or Bono or Billy Graham) on the sidewalk. You start to follow him. Seeing your curiosity, he asks, “What do you want?” That’s exactly what happened to a couple of young men one day when Jesus was passing by. You won’t believe what happened next! Join Pat Morley as we explore a powerful need we all have that Jesus can satisfy like no other. See for yourself how personal experience trumps theoretical teaching. And stand back in awe as uncontainable forces are unleashed when you satisfy this need.
Session 3: What Do You Want?
Good morning, men and ladies. If you would, please turn in your Bibles to John chapter one verse 29. We’re going to do a Bible study this morning, which is interesting little twist. I’m doing the Bible study for you that I did last Friday in Orlando, which for a few unnecessary to explain reasons, didn’t get video recorded so we’re going to do a little ad hoc video of this this morning as well. We’re doing a series. We just started a new series at the Bible study called Jesus Unfiltered. When I was with these men in Asia last October, I mentioned to you that Jesus, the Lord, changed my focus and then again in this most recent October to focus on Jesus more. Jesus Unfiltered is the name of new series this morning.
We always do a shout out and so we’re going to do a shout out here to a group of men. We have 6,000 downloads of the Bible study each week. Several hundreds of those are done in small groups. Each week, we recognize one of those groups somewhere around the country or world. Today the shout out goes to Team Shaw Men of Faith. This is a group of 10 men. They meet on the second Saturday of the month at 8:30 in the morning. They’re led by William Oden. They are located in Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina. In quotes, William Oden writes, “We are a group of active and retired military coming together to build spiritual relationships and mentor younger airmen and soldiers.” We always give a very warm and rousing Man in the Mirror welcome to the groups to whom we give shout outs. Would you join me in doing so for Team Shaw Men of Faith? Very warm welcome. One, two, three, hoorah. Welcome, guys. So honored to have you as part of our Bible study.
As I was saying, the series is Jesus Unfiltered and the title of the message today is What Do You Want? I was at the gym. I’m a gym rat. I was at the gym at Thanksgiving. There’s a guy that I’d been building a relationship with for, you know, a couple of years. I gave him a copy of the Man in the Mirror book and I noticed that his relationship, he cooled on me. I continued to reach out to him and try to be friendly. I noticed that he actually communicates with some other people and seems to have relationships with other people but he walks right by me and doesn’t look at me. I also noticed that about a year ago, something happened. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know if it’s a personal crisis, a health problem. I don’t know what it is, but I noticed that something’s happened. I don’t say that I have any kind of gift of discernment or anything like that, but I could see that something went dead in his eyes. I don’t know if it’s a crisis of meaning, what it is. I do know that he’s kind of lost his, I would put it in my words, it looks to me like he doesn’t have any reason for living. He doesn’t seem to me that he has a reason for living.
On the day before Thanksgiving, I was in the gym and he happened to be standing at the towel machine. I walked over to him and I said, “Happy Thanksgiving.” He said, “Just another day.” I was shocked. I said, “Uh oh. Okay. Well, have a good day,” and went on. On New Years Day, I saw him again at the same towel machine. I said, “Well, happy New Year to you.” He said, “Just another day. Just another day.” I was walking away and I said, “Man, I should have thought about a good comeback before I saw him again.” Then, it dawned on me. I know what I’m going to say to him the next time he gives me that line, which probably is not really fully thought through on his part. You know how those things go. People give you their little rogue answers, but not necessarily that well thought through. The next time that he says, “Just another day. Just another day,” I’m going to say, “That’s one way of looking at it, but you could also say it’s a day like no other.” That’s what we have as believers.
You know, you don’t know where that’s coming from. Is it a health problem, a money problem, or work problem, a moral problem? It could be anything that’s caused him to feel that way. It’s quite clear that he has lost some kind of a sense of a reason for living. You know, this is what we need. This is the first thing we’re going to talk about this morning, kind of talk what do you want and a reason for living.
A REASON FOR LIVING
We all desperately need to have that sense that we have a reason to carry on. From John chapter one verse 29, just to put in it context. This is John’s Gospel and he has given us word became flesh narrative at the beginning. He’s explained the ministry of John the Baptist. Jesus now has gone out to the wilderness for the 40 days of testing. He’s come back.
In verse 29, it says, “The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look. The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.'” He’s the forerunner. He’s telling the identity of Jesus, “This is the one I meant when I said a man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me. I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony, “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven.” Now, this is quite an interesting statement. “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven.” Oh my goodness. I love this kind of thing. It’s very mysterious. What does that mean? How’s that even possible?
There are other scriptures, “No man has ever seen God,” things like this. He said, “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven.” Some people are literalists and have a very difficult time with this. It’s very ambiguous to me but I just love this idea, that John saw the Spirit coming down. “As a dove,” that must obviously be … This has been so widely discussed as many different things, but let’s just leave it as something we don’t really understand. ‘From heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would have not have known him except the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see, the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this,” pointing to Jesus or looking at Jesus, “is the Son of God.”
Then the next day, John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the lamb of God.” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following. Just picture this. Just imagine President Trump is walking by or Bono is walking by or Billy Graham is walking by. You see them and then you start, you’re curious so you begin to follow them. They turn around and Jesus turns around he says, “What do you want?” Now, just tone of voice for Jesus, it’s not like, “What do you want?” It’s not that. It’s like this is the mission for Jesus. This very compassion, loving, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi, which means teacher.” This gospel, just as an aside, this gospel is written to a Greek-speaking audience. The word rabbi is a relatively new term even in Hebrew, probably 30 BC, something like that. They’re giving an explanation of the term. John is giving an explanation of the term to a Greek-speaking audience. They said, “Rabbi,” and he’s helping the reader understand that that means teacher.
“Where are you staying?” I’m sure this is the question on their mind. They’ve just seen the lamb of God. This is the lamb of God who makes a way. This is the Son of God. This is the one who I’ve been telling you about. There he goes. They start following him. “Where are you staying? What hotel are you staying in tonight? Can you tell us that? We’d love to know.” The Lord, as he always does, he just takes the situation as it comes to him. He says, “Come and you will see.” By the way, another little aside here, it says in verse 40, “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John said.” It’s very likely that the other disciple here was John. Very likely, we don’t know, but it’s very likely that it was Andrew and John. Andrew and John and Peter and James, they were all partners in this fishing business with dad or dads. It’s very likely that it was John. John also refers to him in this gospel, refers to himself, as the disciple who Jesus loved. He’s not self-referential. It’s very likely that that’s who he’s talking about here, himself.
Incidentally, you do have handouts on your tables. These little circles that we do, if you want to write in, you can do that, make notes and so forth. First question: Why did Andrew and perhaps John, why did they decide to follow Jesus? Well, these are young men. They’re probably in their 20s. We don’t know for sure, but probably in their 20s. Jesus is, at this point, about 30 years of age. He would have men around him probably around his own age, maybe a little younger, that would be his disciples eventually. These men, what makes interesting here is these men have learned at a very young age what most men don’t learn until much later in life. That is there really is no amount of success in the natural world that really is adequate to give you a reason for living. They were looking for a reason for their lives. John has pointed out Jesus. They come after him.
Just a little suggestion here. I don’t know about you, but for me, I need something in my life every day that is transcendent, something transcendent that makes putting up with all the rest of it worth the effort. They were looking for something transcendent, something that would help give meaning and purpose to their lives. You know, for me, it’s the first four hours of the day. I live for the first four hours of the day. You know, in the early days of my journey, that was 15 minutes, then it was 30, then it was an hour, then I decided to go to bed a couple hours early and get a couple hours earlier before the children were up. I would get up at 4:00. The family would get up at 6:00. I would have a couple of hours of just to be with Jesus, to follow him. He says, “Come and see.” Okay, I want to go and see. Where will you take today? Prayer, reading the word, meditate in scripture, memorize, whatever it is, writing a note to somebody, or daydreaming about some real problem that I would be facing in the course of the day, but just having that sense. It didn’t have to be so structured. It wasn’t just, there was some structure to it, but not just so structured that I couldn’t just be with the Lord, have this come and see.
I really believe that being with Jesus is a big enough reason for living. Being with Jesus is a big enough reason for living. Paul felt that way. Paul said, “For me,” Philippians 1:29, “For me to live is Christ. To die is gain.” Just living alone is Christ for Paul. I think being with Christ is a big enough reason for living. In fact, I have, for over two decades, had a phrase at the top of my to-do list. This is the Big Idea for the day. This phrase at the top of my to-do list I can remember pretty easily. For me, well, that’s what Paul says, “For me to live is Christ. To die is gain.” The way I put it, I would rather die for a worthy cause than live for no reason. I would rather die for a worthy cause than live for no reason. I believe that these, Andrew and perhaps John or whoever the other disciple was and these other, they were looking for a reason for living. The Big Idea today: I would rather die for a worthy cause than live for no reason. I know you feel that way. I know that’s why you’re here. I know you feel this. I know that the gravitas of …
WHERE DO WE FIND IT?
Where do we find it? If you would look at verse 39, Jesus says, “Come and you will see.” They went and they saw where he was staying and spent the day with him. It was about the 10th hour. We don’t know if this was 10:00 in the morning or 10 hours after daylight, 4:00 in the afternoon. Again, is he using a Jewish way of telling time or is he using the way of telling time that would be more perfect to the audience he’s writing? Doesn’t make a difference. Did spend quite a few hours with the Lord Jesus. Then, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said, John the Baptist had said, and who had followed Jesus.
Then, in verse 43, “The next day, Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, ‘Follow me.'” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. You know, where do we find it? Jesus says, “You want to find it? You need a reason for living? Come and you will see. Follow me. Come and you will see. Follow me.” How did the disciples find it? They got to experience it and see it with their own eyes. That’s how we get there. That’s how you and I get there too. We experience it by being in the real presence of Jesus. We bring ourselves into the real presence of Jesus. We don’t have his personal person, his body isn’t with us anymore, and so we go about it in different ways.
Tex Johnston was the chief test pilot for the Boeing Corporation when they were developing the jet engine. He was a very flamboyant person. He was frequently at odds with all the engineers they were trying to get this jet engine working, everything like that. He had a plaque in his office right in the middle of all the engineers, a plaque on the wall of his office said, “One test is worth a thousand expert opinions.” That’s it. That’s what Jesus is saying here in this text, “Take me out for a spin. Let’s go for a test. One test is worth a thousand expert opinions so come and see. Follow me.” I said this quote to my car salesman. I thought that would be a pretty good thing for a car salesman to have, “One test is worth a thousand expert … Hey, let’s go for a test drive in this car. You’ll make up your own mind.”
The idea of actually experiencing the Lord and just being in the presence of him, you know from the men and the women that you’ve learned with in your own walk, that just being around … I remember Bill Bright. I was on his board of directors for nine years. I can remember that it was just like being in his presence and watching how he did things had more mentoring impact on me honestly than anything he ever said. Just watching him had more impact on me. I think this is what Jesus was getting at here. Experience trumps theory. Seeing is believing. Visions are caught, not taught. All these things that we hear, all these little bromides that we hear. They’re true. We find our reason for living by finding a cause that’s worth dying for. When we see the life of Jesus, we realize that we’ve found something that’s worth giving our life for. We take him out for a test drive. Why do we do that? Why do that? Because we all are just so, I don’t even know what the right word is, can’t pick the right word. We’re all just so twisted up inside, wanting to have a reason to live. Big idea today. I’d rather die for a worthy cause than live for no reason.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DO?
Then, the final piece. What happens when we do? What happens when we do find this? Look at verse 41. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, he’s heard it. Verse 41, the first thing Andrew did was to find his brother, Simon, and tell him, “We have found the Messiah.” That is the Christ. They brought Simon to Jesus who looked at him and said, “You’re Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas,” which translated is Peter. Then look at verse 44, “Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law and about whom the prophets also wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph.’ ‘Nazareth. Can any good come from there?'” I wonder what he meant by that. A lot of speculation about probably what it really meant was is that the soil around Nazareth was barren and so there would have been this prejudice against that area because it wasn’t really fruitful in terms of the values of the culture at the time. It could have been something else, but that’s probably what it meant or could have been at least.
What did Philip say? “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said, “Here is a true Israelite in whom there is nothing false.” He didn’t say that he was not a sinner or anything like that, but he had no guile in him. “How do you know that?” Nathanael asked. Jesus said, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip even called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God. You are the King of Israel.” Jesus said, “You believe,” the key word in this whole gospel, believe. Jesus said, “You believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree. You’ll see greater things than this.” He added, “I tell you the truth. You shall see the heavens open and the angels of God descending on the Son of Man,” a reference to Jacob’s ladder.
How many of you have like a favorite app that you just constantly recommend or maybe it’s a favorite website? You’re just constantly referring. Maybe it’s a favorite piece of actual equipment, hardware. Maybe you’re like an iPhone addict, you’re always just like recommending that. Maybe it’s a restaurant that you’ve been to and you’re a convert. What happens when you get really passionate about something that has really meant a lot to you? You know the answer. What is it? You can’t wait to tell people about it or maybe you stopped smoking, whatever it is. What are you? You’re obnoxious. You’re just obnoxious because you’re just such an avid thing, you’re so rabid, you’re so passionate about this thing that you’ve fallen in love with. You can’t wait to tell people. That’s exactly what happens to these two guys, Andrew and to Philip. They couldn’t wait to tell other disciples about him.
You know, people do what they want to do. You know this. This is like something I discovered while I when still in business and it’s still true in ministry. In fact, one of the things we do, for those of you who are listening online, this is an ad hoc makeup because we missed the video at the regular location. This group, this the field team for Man in the Mirror. When we interviewed you men here, one of the things that I laid out in the very beginning, said, “Okay. Whatever else we do, let’s make sure that we understand not what we want these men to do, but what do these men want to do,” because I know from experience that people do what they want. Let’s figure out what they want to do because if we just try to convince them to do what we want them to do and we don’t find out what they want to do and help them do what they want to do, they’re going to do what they want to do anyway even if you pay their salary. That’s the way it works. I learned that lesson early in business.
We spend a lot of time trying to understand what is it you feel like God is calling you to do? That’s what you’re going to end up doing anyway. The people that we did not invite to be on the team, it’s not because we didn’t love them, but because we discovered, and there are other reasons too, but we discovered that in many cases that this isn’t really what really, really at the core what God was calling them to do. We encouraged them to go and find that calling. We celebrate that, whatever it is, because we’re not just trying to build one ministry. We’re trying to build God’s kingdom. We celebrate that, but the ideal would be they’d just be doing that somewhere else. People do what they want.
We have a little dog. It’s a Bichon Frise. That’s a, for those of you that don’t know, it’s a little, tiny white poofy, frou-frou lapdog for middle-aged women. How many of you have a Bichon? Anybody have a Bichon in here? Anybody ever had one? Okay. You know. They’re crazy. I noticed she raised her hand. He didn’t raise his hand. That’s the way it is. I’ve been outed. I’ve outed myself. I love this little dog. I just love that little dog. This dog is under my protection, by the way. I don’t know what it is with this little dog. We’ve got this leash. It goes out like 15 feet and then it’s got a recoil so shorter too. This dog always wants to be 18 inches beyond wherever the end of the leash is. You know, it’s never satisfied to be inside. Boy, there’s so many lessons I’ve learned about men working with men from this girl dog. It’s crazy. This dog does what it wants.
This week, I was, I came into we got a little library area. There’s a window and chair and the dog likes to lay in the chair in the sun. It’s cold outside. The sun comes in. The dog feels good. Sleepy-eyed, I said, “Hey, Missy.” Nothing. No registration. “Missy, Missy.” Nothing. I said, “Missy, you want to go get the mail?” Boing. This was up like it shot out of a cannon like on a pogo stick or something like that and raced off to the front door of the house. Why? Because dogs do what they want to and that’s what this dog wanted to do. This is what was going on with Andrew and with Paul. They were doing what they wanted to do. When a guy says, “It’s just another day,” I know that he needs a reason for living. When he says that, I may not show it on my outward man because I don’t want to scare him to death, but I’m like that dog. Boing. I know something’s going on and I want to be the person who helps him find that reason for living, solve that crisis for meaning, to figure out that transcendent thing that will make putting up with everything else that we have to go through worth it.
What is the question that we should be asking from this text? The Holy Spirit has chosen to preserve this text of scripture. I think if we asked, “Why did he do that?” I think he would say so that we would have an understanding of how we can bring people into the presence of Jesus, one way of doing it. How can we bring people in the presence of Jesus? We could do what Jesus said, “Come and see. Follow me.” We can say like Philip said, “Come and see.” I think that’s why the Spirit has preserved this text. Then, if that is true, what is the question we should be asking? I think that question is, “Who do I know that doesn’t feel like they have a reason for living? Who do I know that needs a reason for living?” Because I have a reason for living.
In fact, I would rather die for a worthy cause than live for no reason. Then, let’s maybe think about how we, the next time they make a comment like, “Just another day. Just another day,” that we think through an answer that doesn’t dust them off, blow them up, get them so angry they can’t see straight, but maybe just introduces some hope into the conversation. “Just another day? Well, yeah, but it’s also it’s a day like no other.”