Graduates: Jesus Is Calling

Graduates: Jesus Is Calling

Opening Illustration: The Goat

In what is one of the strangest traditions at West Pointe Academy, the “Goat” is celebrated at every graduation ceremony.  What is the “Goat”?  Great question.  The “Goat” is the student with the lowest overall rank in his class and yet still qualifies to graduate.  He is literally the last of the best.  

So, how do the cadets celebrate the “Goat”?  Each cadet gives $1 which last year came out to about $1000 and that money is given to the “Goat”.  When the last ranking cadet’s name is announced at the graduation ceremony, he or she receives the biggest applause.  

He may have been last, but he made it.  

Curious, have you ever felt like the “Goat” of graduation?  It seems that everyone is better than you.  You don’t seem to have much to offer. If you are like me, I have felt like the goat many times in my life.  

Let me encourage you today.  The “Goat” may start out in last place, but that doesn’t mean that he will stay there.  In the history of West Pointe, there have been several “Goats” that have gone on to be awarded medals and high ranking positions in the military.  

Just listen to this distinguished list of late bloomers.  Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight Eisenhower were closer to the middle of their classes. George Patton had to repeat his freshman year for failing math and graduated 46th out of 103. Edward Aloysius Murphy Jr. , who formulated Murphy's Law, ended up 403rd out of 449.

Transition Statment:
Look at the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.  Look at His disciples.  You could hardly say that Jesus picked the best and the brightest.  

Andrew, Peter, James and John were mostly uneducated fisherman.

Matthew was a crooked tax collector who robbed his own people blind.

We are not really sure what the occupation of the other disciples but let’s just say that no one was hiring them to be on their team…except Jesus of course.  

Yet, look at what the disciples were able to achieve with the Lord’s help.  Quite literally, the disciples turned the world upside down.  The message of the Gospel was powerful and God used the least to achieve His greatest.  

It reminds me of the words of Paul captured in I Corinthians 15:9-10

I Corinthians 15:9-10 ESV
9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.

Indeed the grace that found Paul led Paul to do great things.  Students, you can do great things as well.  Whether you are the valedictorian or the goat of the class, God has big things in store for you.  

So, answer this question:

Where Will You Go And What Will You Do After Graduation?

Today we are reading from Mark 6.  For the first 5 chapters of Mark, the disciples have seen Jesus do some pretty amazing things.  Jesus has healed people.  He has cleansed lepers.  He has given reanimation to the paralyzed.  They have seen Jesus replace withered limbs.  They have seen Jesus’ control over the wind an the waves.  Not only have the disciples seen, but they have heard as well.  Jesus taught the disciples constantly.  They have followed closely behind Jesus watching every move.  

Now it was time for Jesus to push the birds from the nest.  As they have seen Jesus heal and teach, it was now their turn to model Jesus’ example.  This brings us to Mark 6.  Jesus calls together His disciples and sends them out on a mission.  

Friends this is not that different than what you are experiencing today.  The disciples were experiencing a graduation of sorts.  They has seen Jesus work.  They had heard His teachings.  Now it was time to take what they have seen and heard and turn it into practice.  

Imagine what the disciples were feeling.  

“I am not ready for this.”

“Im scared.”

“Wait Jesus you are not going with us?”

I can remember reading “Oh The Places You Will Go” by Dr. Seuss when I was a child.  I will tell you a small secret, that book scared me to death.  Do you know why?  It is because of one statement.  

(Place Quote On Screens)
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” 

Excuse me, Im on my own.  That’s terrifying.  Thats the hardest part of any graduation is coming to grips that I am on my own.  Is that true? 

As you will see, fear is a pretty normal response to any graduation.  Think about it, you are graduating from High School.  However, it will not be the last graduation that you ever experience.  Hopefully you will graduate from college.  You will graduate one day to a new job, a new family, parenthood, and one day, each of us will graduate into death.  

Yes, those things can be scary but remember this promise, Jesus is with us every step of the way.  No matter what we are graduating into or from, God is not going to leave us.  Remember His Word found in Deuteronomy 31:6

Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

So, let’s read about the disciples graduation and what the Lord is expecting of them.

Mark 6:7-13 ESV
7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.

Jesus Is Calling You To New…

I. Occupations vs. 7-9
Mark 6:7-9 ESV
7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 

What Did Jesus Call The Disciples To Do?

A. Partner Up

Remember the disciples.  These guys were fishermen, tax collectors and had various other trades.  Most of these men had not journeyed more than 10 miles from from their homes.  They were not world travelers.  They were not communicators.  They were not teachers.  This was totally out of their realm of experience.  Talk about scary.  So, what was Jesus calling them to do anyway?

First, Jesus was calling them to reinvest.  Notice that Jesus calls them out 2 by 2.  This is still a model that the practice in this church when we go out on visitation.  We partner up.  Sure, the disciples had seen and done some things together but this was an entirely new level of companionship and friendship.  This would mean that each of them would have to reinvest in each other like never before.  

Friendships are very important and can lead us down good and bad roads.  God knows how important it is to find partnership in our lives.  God does not intend for you or me to walk this journey of life alone or by ourselves.  We were crafted for companionship.  From the very beginning, Adam had Eve.  In Genesis, God even states that it is not good for man to be alone.  

Brothers and sisters, graduates, it is not good for you to be alone either.  Just listen to these words found in Proverbs…

Proverbs 11:14 
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

Proverbs 17:17 
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 27:17 
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Here are the words of King Solomon

Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Some of the greatest examples of friendship are found in God’s Word.  Of course you have Ruth and Naomi.  They sure did stick together.  Then you have David and Jonathan.  Then you have Elijah and Elisha.  

Even C.S. Lewis new the value of good friendships.  

“Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?”

Graduates, when you depart from this place, remember, God sends you out on your journey prepared to make good, Christ like and Godly friendships.  Remember, that the power of God is best seen not in the individual but in the partnership.  Who is your partner today?  What type of friendships will you cultivate.  

B. Build Up

Next, Jesus gives them the occupation of building up.  Jesus gave the disciples power over the spiritual elements of this world.  He gave them power over the unclean things that manifested themselves in people’s lives.  The disciples literally had the power to help people rebuild their broken lives.  The had the power to restore marriages, heal damaged friendships, and bring forgiveness to those hurting.  

Friends, you think that this world is not broken?  Just turn on your televisions and look what is happening in Baltimore.  Looked what happened in Ferguson.  There is something terribly broken in our country.  We need people, we need disciples who are committed to healing and removing the unclean things from our society.  

This is our new job.  This means that we have to go deeper with people than ever before.  This means that we have to get our hands dirty.  This means that we have to set aside all of our prejudices to reach people for Christ.  Yes, it is difficult but it is what Christ has called us to do.  

Matthew 10:8 NIV
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

C. Look Up

Lastly Jesus calls us to look up.  Remember He gave them very little for their journey.  They had very little resources.  Why?  The reason is that He wanted His disciples to be totally dependent on God’s grace and mercy to fulfill their needs.  Are you so different today?  Does God not want us to be totally dependent on Him today.  

I can remember what it felt like when I graduated from high school.  I felt that I was not prepared for college.  Then college happened and I was afraid I was not prepared for grad school. Then I graduated from grad school and I felt that I was not prepared for church life.  These are all just tricks of the devil.  Remember, God does call the prepared, He prepares the called.  He will prepare you as well.  Trust in Him and lean on Him to meet your needs.  

Proverbs 35-6 ESV
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Jesus Is Calling You To New…

I. Occupations vs. 7-9
II. Obstacles vs. 10-11
Mark 6:10-11
10 And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”

Rest assured that you will have plenty of obstacles.  You will see some successes but you will also see failures. Some people will welcome you and what you believe to be true and some will doubt you and try to discredit you.  Look what Jesus said to the disciples, some people will receive you and others will not.  

Following Christ is not going to be a walk in the park.  Anyone that tells you that it is is lying to you.  

Every disciple that Jesus had either was martyred or exiled.  Stephen was stoned.  Paul was beheaded.  Remember, no one was better at being Jesus than Jesus and they crucified Him for being…well…Him.  

When failure comes knocking at your door, and it will, it doesn’t mean that is the end of the story.  When people say “no” or give you the “whatever” gesture, you are not alone.  Lots of people have tasted failure and gone on to do tremendous things.  

Thomas Edison: In his early years, teachers told Edison he was "too stupid to learn anything." Work was no better, as he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Even as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Of course, all those unsuccessful attempts finally resulted in the design that worked.

Orville and Wilbur Wright: These brothers battled depression and family illness before starting the bicycle shop that would lead them to experimenting with flight. After numerous attempts at creating flying machines, several years of hard work, and tons of failed prototypes, the brothers finally created a plane that could get airborne and stay there.

Jerry Seinfeld: Just about everybody knows who Seinfeld is, but the first time the young comedian walked on stage at a comedy club, he looked out at the audience, froze and was eventually jeered and booed off of the stage. Seinfeld knew he could do it, so he went back the next night, completed his set to laughter and applause, and the rest is history.

Elvis Presley: As one of the best-selling artists of all time, Elvis has become a household name even years after his death. But back in 1954, Elvis was still a nobody, and Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired Elvis Presley after just one performance telling him, "You ain't goin' nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin' a truck."

Tom Landry: As the coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Landry brought the team two Super Bowl victories, five NFC Championship victories and holds the records for the record for the most career wins. He also has the distinction of having one of the worst first seasons on record (winning no games) and winning five or fewer over the next four seasons.

So how do you hand failure?  How do you hand the difficult people you run across?  Follow the example of Jesus.  Jesus forgave them.  He forgave Nicodemus who was religious to a fault.  He forgave the woman at the well and she was an adulterer.  He forgave the thief on the cross and he was a robber.  He forgave the soldiers at the foot of the cross and they were killing Him.  He forgave Peter and Peter betrayed Him.  

Jesus forgave.  Over and over again He forgave.  Know this, forgiveness is not the same as frozen.  Jesus encouraged the disciples to move on.  If people refuse to listen or they turn a deaf ear to the message, move on.  Sure, ours is a ministry to people but the Gospel is always moving. It cannot be paralyzed into staying still. 

Mark 11:25 NIV
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. "

Jesus Is Calling You To New…

I. Occupations vs. 7-9
II. Obstacles vs. 10
III. Obedience vs. 11-13
Mark 6:11-13
12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.

So they went out.  They graduated.  They put their knowledge into practice.  They obeyed.  Students, this will be the challenge for you.  You will be challenged to obey and obedience will not come easy for you.  You will want to embrace rebellion.  You will want to chase the lie of freedom that this world sells you.  Let me tell you, obedience to Christ is the only path to leaving a mark on this world.  

Point: What Does Obedience Look Like
I read a story taken from Our Daily Bread about the meaning and cost of obedience.  

How we admire the obedience a dog shows to its master! Archibald Rutledge wrote that one day he met a man whose dog had just been killed in a forest fire. Heartbroken, the man explained to Rutledge how it happened. Because he worked out-of-doors, he often took his dog with him. That morning, he left the animal in a clearing and gave him a command to stay and watch his lunch bucket while he went into the forest. His faithful friend understood, for that's exactly what he did. Then a fire started in the woods, and soon the blaze spread to the spot where the dog had been left. But he didn't move. He stayed right where he was, in perfect obedience to his master's word. With tearful eyes, the dog's owner said, "I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it."

Students, church, obedience is when we follow to the letter what Jesus says.  Our obedience cost us our lives.  

I am reminded of the words of Paul found in Galatians 2:20

Galatians 2:20 ESV
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Paul understood that obedience was the only way to truly honor Jesus.  The disciples obeyed Jesus and their obedience left a mark on the society around them.  

Graduates, I challenge you today to obey Christ.  Make your mark on people.  Heal.  Restore.  Build up.  Remember, we are about people.  You are called to people.  Take your calling seriously as there will be challenges.  However, Jesus is with you.  

Commissioning Prayer.  

Make Your Mark Today!


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