Follow | The Beginner's Guide to Predicting Your Future: Part 3 – Andy Stanley

(suspenseful music) – Now today what we’re gonna focus on is this word We’re gonna focus on direction And specifically, and I know this is a big ask, and I know this is a bit bold and I hope you all stay dialed in and tuned in when I tell you what I wanna do today, but specifically I want to invite those of you who aren’t already to become followers of Jesus Christ I would like for you to surrender your entire life and everything about your entire life to Jesus and to decide to follow Jesus To surrender to his direction and trust him with your destination And by destination I’m not talking about the afterlife I’m talking about in this life, as we’re gonna see for just a few minutes But my challenge today is to ask all of you who haven’t already to make the decision, because it’s your decision, to decide to follow Jesus with your entire life Now I realize that’s a bold ask because I don’t know you and I don’t know your circumstances and I don’t know your church background or your lack of church background, if your dad was a pastor and you kind of flaked out, or your mom led the choir and you flaked out, or you just don’t have any religious background at all, or you don’t have any faith at all, or God didn’t answer your prayers as a teenager and you haven’t been back since I don’t know your story, but I do know this In the 1st century, Jesus invited people just like us to trust him and to follow him And the reason I wanna make this bold invitation in the 21st century is because I have heard so many people say in relationship to Jesus, “I would have never gotten here without you.” Every time we watch a baptism video in one of our churches, that’s the story, is I was here, now I’m where I need to be, things have changed, things have changed relationally, things have changed in my marriage, things have changed in my sense of purpose and destiny, just about every area of my life And they don’t use these words but essentially they’re saying, “You know what? “Apart from deciding to follow Jesus, “I would not be where I am today, “I would not have gotten here, wherever here is, “and here is always a better place apart from Jesus.” Now to help you make that decision and to hopefully motivate and inspire you to at least consider it, because maybe it’s a long shot as you sit here today, maybe not, is I wanna tell you a story from the life of Jesus’ most famous followers, his 1st century followers This is found in the Gospel of John John, by the way, is an eyewitness to all of this stuff John outlived Peter and Paul and all the other famous guys, and John wrote the Gospel of John and a few letters John, this is super important, if you’re not a Christian necessarily you should know this, John is the person that introduced to the world the idea that God is love If you believe God is love and you’re not really a religious person, you just sort of think there’s a God and God is love, you should know that is a distinctly and uniquely Christian idea And John did not say God is love because life was lovely John said God is love because he had started love in the face, he had watched love die, and he had eaten breakfast with love after he was resurrected from the dead And John concluded that Jesus was God in a bod And if Jesus was God in a body and Jesus was love, then God must be love John brings us this story Basically here’s what happened, here’s some context Jesus had just done a 5K He had fed 5,000 people all by himself, that was his 5K And then he cooled down by walking across a portion of the Sea of Galilee So he’s tired but he’s cooling down His disciples, that we’re gonna call the apostles, because of the way the stories go, the 12 apostles, they are amazed and the people are impressed, and the people that he fed they wanna make Jesus the king Because that’s what kings did in the 1st century in ancient times, kings always provided food for people and mostly bread because bread was portable and bread could be preserved Everything else spoiled so quickly So if you provided bread for the people, they would make you king They didn’t even have to do campaign speeches Whoever provided the most bread, they got the most followers That’s just the way the ancient world worked And Jesus had just fed them with bread So they find out where Jesus went and so they can’t do the shortcut so they make their way around that little peninsula, around the edge of the Sea of Galilee, and they find Jesus, and when they find Jesus, they want something They’re like us, they want something, and they want something now But they realize you just can’t walk up to Jesus and say, hey, do me a favor, give me something Now we do when we pray We say, dear Heavenly Father, let’s get the small talk out of the way, dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this day, now (congregation laughs) But when you’re in the presence of Jesus, you don’t do that So here’s how the story unfolds “When they found him, Jesus, on the other side of the lake,” ’cause he’d walked and they had to walk around, “they asked him,” and again they want something,

but first a little small talk So apparently there’s a representative of these people So the representative walks up, there’s this crowd of people Everywhere Jesus went, there’s a crowd And he walks up and he says, “Rabbi.” Now this is because they just think he’s a rabbi He’s a powerful rabbi but he’s a rabbi “Rabbi, hey, when did you get here?” Small talk They don’t care about it but you can’t just come right out and say give me, give me, give me So Jesus knows the heart of everyone and so he smiles and maybe he sighs. (sighs) And he says, “Look, “let’s just cut through all the small talk “You are looking for me, “not because you saw the signs I performed “but because you ate the loaves and had your fill “I know why you’re here, let’s just get to it “You wanna be fed again “You want some more bread “You weren’t impressed or moved by the signs.” Now this is very important for when you read the New Testament Jesus did not perform random miracles just to show off He didn’t perform random miracles like okay, today, everybody whose name starts with R, we’re gonna heal you today Tomorrow we’ll have all the, no His miracles were signs Now what does a sign do? A sign points to something Every single one of Jesus’ miracles were a sign that pointed to something Something big, something new Nobody loves the sign Nobody’s looking to go stand by the sign Signs point somewhere And Jesus’ miracles weren’t the point Jesus’ miracles were signs Jesus’ miracles weren’t the thing he wanted people to rally around Jesus’ miracles were to get people to ask questions like, wow, what is going on? It’s a sign, look right over there And all of Jesus’ miracles, all of his signs, pointed to something brand new Something bigger than ever, something spectacular The kingdom of God was coming and had come to earth “This was bigger than the Temple,” he said “This is bigger than the Sabbath “This is bigger than the law “This is bigger than anything “that has ever happened before.” And so he’s pointing people toward this big, great thing This wasn’t about food This wasn’t about immediate This was about ultimate Then they asked him “Hey, listen “We saw that thing you did and you prayed “and a little boy handed you the food “We couldn’t really see through the crowd “what that was about “But then your disciples, “they were out handing out food and it multiplied “Hey, would you teach us to do that?” Then they asked him, “What must we do “to do the works that God requires? “Because that was amazing, “can you teach us to do some of those tricks?” And Jesus answered, “The work.” This is so powerful In fact, this may be why you’re watching or listening or why you’re here Jesus answered, “The work of God is this.” Ready “The work of God is to believe in the one he has sent.” It’s that simple, it’s that profound That the work of God is gonna tease us out in just a minute The work of God, the thing that God wants you to do, the starting point, the beginning point, step one, baby steps, you know, what’s the first thing? It’s to simply believe, and he’s talking about himself, believe in the one that he, God, has sent In other words, Jesus says, “Okay “Look, I know you were impressed by the sign, “by the miracle, and I’m glad you’re here “But here’s the point of the sign, “here’s the point of the miracle, “here’s where all that points to “Here’s where all of this points to “Trust me, follow me “Trust me, follow me “Trust me, follow me “I,” Jesus would say, “I know how to get you there “And I know where there is “And I know who you need to be, what you need to be, “and where you need to be “Would you trust me? “And would you follow me?” Now, this was not working, and this was not what they came for So they changed tactics They said, “Oh.” So another guy kinda pushes through the crowd apparently and says, “Okay, hey, you mentioned signs, “that you know that was a sign “Jesus, what sign will you then give us “that we may see it, the sign, “and then believe you? “‘Cause you said we’re supposed to, “somehow the work of God is to believe, “and we wanna believe “Don’t you wanna believe? “Don’t you wanna believe? “Give me a B, we all wanna believe “But in order for us to believe, “I think we need another sign “Don’t we all need another sign? “So what sign will you do?” Pause, and then the same guy apparently is like, “Hey “I just thought of one “I mean, this just popped in my head “I didn’t think about this before, “this just kinda popped in my head “Jesus, you know the story of our ancestors “You know, Moses and let my people go, “and then they get to the Promised Land, “it doesn’t work out, “and they wander around the wilderness all those years “And during those wandering years, “do you remember how God fed them? “Do you remember that story, Jesus? “Our ancestors, if you remember, “ate the manna in the wilderness “As it is written, ‘He, God, gave them bread “‘from heaven to eat.’

“You remember how God provided bread from heaven “and they all ate? “Remember that one? “That was a good one “Do that one again.” And everybody’s like, “Yeah yeah yeah “There’s already a precedent for that “We’ve seen you kinda multiply it “Make, you know.” Jesus said to them, he’s so patient “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses, “it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, “but it is my Father.” He’s like, “Come on, that was a sign “pointing to something else as well “And God, not Moses, provided for bread for those people “And my Father in heaven wants to provide for you as well.” He continues, “For the bread of God,” the bread that comes from God, that’s what that means, “the bread that comes from God “is the bread that comes down from heaven, “you’re right about the whole manna thing, “and gives life to the world.” And now Jesus is trying to get them to see, “Look, “when I talk about bread, “I’m not talking about physical bread that comes and goes “And plus, you’ve had that before “I’m talking about something bigger “I’ve come to offer you life “I’ve come to offer you something that will sustain you “beyond filling your stomach with something.” The bread was just a sign that was pointing to something bigger and greater and newer Well, finally, they just can’t follow They just can’t do it So somebody else pushed their way through the crowd and they said, “Sir.” He went from rabbi to sir It’s like, our patience is running out “Sir, always give us this bread “We want, come on, let’s just get right to it “We want an endless supply “Spoil us, make it rain bread “Make our lives better so that we don’t have to bake it, “we don’t have to grow it, we don’t have to harvest it “That we would have bread the rest of our life “Just give it to us.” Jesus, again, he’s so patient He says, “Look, look, look “I understand “Look, here’s what I want you to understand “I, I am the bread of life “You’ve eaten bread that will sustain you in life, “but I, me, my body, you are looking at the bread of life “The signs all point to who I am, “and I have come for you because I know how to get you “to where you need to be.” Now, Jesus stays on this track and the sermon goes on and on and on, you can read it for yourself in John 6 And it gets a little odd He says, “I’m the bread of life, you need to eat my body.” They’re like, “No, we’re not gonna do that “We’re not gonna eat your body.” And again Jesus is like, “No no no no, not literally “And you need to drink my blood.” “We are really not gonna drink you.” “Not literally.” And they just can’t follow him Besides, they didn’t come for a sermon anyway And so the whole thing just, the whole day just kinda goes south It’s not his best sermon Okay, I don’t wanna criticize Jesus’ sermons, being a preacher, but it’s just nobody understood it until later And you know why we understand it later? Because it was a sign pointing to later But in the moment, it’s so confusing I think it’s so confusing At some point, Peter and John probably wanted to come up and put their arm around Jesus and say to the crowd, “Hey, we’re gonna take a quick break “We’re gonna be right back in a minute “Matthew is gonna come share a few tax gatherer jokes, “come tell some tax collector jokes, “and we’re gonna be right back.” And they pull Jesus off to the side and say, “Jesus, I mean, come on, you are losing the crowd “We don’t even know what you’re talking about “So go back out there and do something on prayer “or tell the story about the guy that got beat up, “they love that one “Except if you would leave the Samaritan part out, “make a Jewish person the hero “That would go over a lot better “Or the one about the sons or the coins “I mean, anything, the mountains, the blessed one “Anything would be better than this “We are losing the crowd.” But they didn’t do that And John tells us, ’cause he was there, “On hearing this, many of his disciples,” not the 12 The disciples in the Book of John are always the big crowd of people that followed Jesus Some of them had been with him since the River Jordan, the Jordan River when John the Baptist was baptized “On this day, on hearing this, “many of his disciples said, ‘This is too hard.'” This is so harsh is what that word means “Who can accept it?” Or literally, who can listen to this? Who can even stay and hear this? “And aware that his disciples,” his followers, the crowd, “were grumbling about this, he said to them, “‘Does this offend you? “‘Does this kind of trip you up? “‘Is what I’m saying, “‘is it causing you to have second thoughts about me?'” And the text says, John tells us, “From this time on many of his disciples “turned back and no longer followed him.” And they won’t follow him for the same reason that some of you left him He will not give them what they want when they want it,

because he had come for something much bigger than that So when you were a senior in high school, you prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed, and your cousin passed away anyway, your father passed away anyway, and you thought, I’m done When you were in college, you prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed, and you weren’t able to get into the school you wanted to get into You finally had to drop out You prayed and prayed and the money wasn’t there You went to church, you went to church, and they made all these promises, then the pastor flaked out and did something just weird and you’re like, I’m just done with this I mean, this isn’t working out the way I envisioned it would work out I understand that Do you know who else understands that? Your Heavenly Father understands that Jesus faced a crowd just like us We wanted our way now And Jesus would say to them and he would say to us, “I understand that “But I have come to give you something so much bigger “I’ve come to give you life that is truly life.” They wanted something temporary and perishable Something that wouldn’t last, something that would satisfy their stomachs for a few hours Jesus is offering something so much better, something that was less filling, but ultimately more fulfilling So back to the story So the 12, they’re listening to Jesus, watching the crowd, listening to Jesus, watching the crowd, listening to Jesus, watching the crowd, kinda looking at each other like, (grunts) “This is not going well,” and they’re worried Because, as I told you before, if they lose the crowd, they lose their protection The reason it was so hard to arrest Jesus, he was always surrounded by people It’s why they arrested Jesus at night It’s why Nicodemus came to talk to Jesus at night During the day, there were crowds everywhere The reason he would get on boats and cross the Sea of Galilee is the only way to get away from the people There were no tricked out Escalades he could hop into and (whooshes) take off, you know? His best hope was a donkey “All right, let’s go!” (congregation laughs) So it’s hard to escape the crowds And not only that, I don’t wanna be gross, but sick people were all trying to touch him at the same time, imagine that day It’s kinda like “The Walking Dead” every day of his life It’s like okay okay okay Because when you’re sick and you’re desperate, when you’re sick and you’re desperate and you know I just need to touch him or touch somebody that touched him, or maybe try to get in his shadow, you’ll do anything, especially when it’s your child or your husband or someone you love This was every day of Jesus’ life And it’s chaotic and it’s wonderfully chaotic, as it was Read the gospels The disciples, the 12, they knew, “If we lose the crowd, we lose our protection “from the Temple henchmen “And we may lose our life “And there goes Justin. (grunts) “Justin has been with us since the Jordan River “And there goes Lucenius, oh no “He’s been one of the most devout followers “and he’s leaving.” So Jesus pauses his sermon He’s watching the crowd sort of begin to disband Looks at the 12 and he knows they would like to disband as well They’d like to stand, stretch, step back “That’s good, Jesus “Let’s write that down, John, that’s good “Matthew, are you getting this? “That’s good.” And disappear into the crowd And Jesus turns to the 12, and they know he knows the heart of men and women, and he says, “You,” talking about the 12, “You “You don’t wanna leave too, do you?” And they were so busted But you don’t lie to the Son of Man You don’t lie to someone who gave sight to the blind “You don’t wanna leave too, do you? “I mean, I know this is hard, but, I mean, really? “You guys just want to, “just ’cause this is hard and this is confusing, “you just wanna give up everything you’ve heard and seen “and just leave? “You don’t wanna leave too, do you?” And in this moment, this is the reason I hope that you’re here, or watching or listening, in this moment Peter sees what everybody else missed, and Peter sees what perhaps you’ve missed, and Peter see what I hope you see today Simon Peter, looking around, feeling that same fear, and he’s no courageous person, we know He’s just average (sighs) Simon Peter sighs and he says, “Lord “Yes, we would like to go, but I’ve done the math “and I’ve rehearsed our recent past, “to whom would we go? “I mean, to whom would we go? “We don’t know how to get there “And it doesn’t seem like you’re leading us there, “wherever there is, “but I know we don’t know how to get there, “and we’ve never met anybody else “that knows how to get us there “And so to walk away from you isn’t necessarily gonna, “it doesn’t necessarily takes us to a better destination “I mean, yeah, it’s about to get difficult,

“but moving in a different direction “does not guarantee a better destination “So yeah, we’re scared “Yeah, suddenly, “we were rockstars before yesterday afternoon “Yesterday afternoon was amazing, “they wanted to make you king “And if you’re king, do you realize what that means for us? “Today is a different day. (sighs) “But seriously “To whom would we go? “You’re the only one that knows how to get us there, “and the reason I say that is because “you have something that no one else has “You have the words of eternal life “You have given us a bigger picture of the world “You’ve given us a different picture of God “You have reframed our little itty bitty nothing lives “within the context of eternity “And something has risen up in us and, “I don’t think we can go back to normal “And we’ve seen enough to know “We have come to believe and we’ve come to know “that you are the Holy One of God “Jesus, before you there was just fishing “and wifing and children and illness and then dying “And you have invited us “into something with purpose and meaning “To whom shall we go? “To whom shall we go?” My friends, that is the question I want you to ask Because if you refuse to follow Jesus, you’re following something, or you’re following someone, and they may not have any better idea than you do of how to get to where you need to be Now, when I read this passage or teach this passage, my mind 100% of the time goes back to a moment in my life when I almost hit the unfollow button when it came to Jesus And I know this is gonna sound strange I went to Georgia State University, majored in journalism Christianity had always served me well, so when I graduated from college I decided to go into ministry I never really felt called to ministry, I just decided to volunteer and that’s what I told my dad I said, “Do you have to be called “or can you just volunteer?” He said, “I think you can volunteer.” I said, “I’d like to volunteer.” (congregation laughs) It was a big dramatic moment, whoo So I go to Dallas, I sign up, I get my classes, I write my check, and then I go back to my efficiency apartment Class starts the next day If you’ve ever lived in an efficiency apartment, you can sit in one spot and do everything all at the same time, you know? (congregation laughs) And I’m overwhelmed with doubt and I’m overwhelmed with the sense of anxiety of oh no, what am I about to do? Okay, I’m about, I mean, Christianity has been good for me, it kept me out of trouble, all my friends were at church, I love church Okay, that’s one thing, to grow up in Sunday school My dad taught me to memorize David’s speech to Goliath whenever I’d face temptation, so I’d memorized that speech You know the great thing about it, by the time you finish quoting the speech, you forgot what you’re even being tempted about It’s awesome, you know? So Christianity had been great for me, it had served me And now I’m considering giving my whole life to this thing? As a job and a career? It meant that I would have to find a woman who wanted to marry a preacher Suddenly my options went whoo (congregation laughs) My kids would be preacher’s kids, there was no way around it And I was a preacher’s kid and I knew what that meant And I’d seen my dad mistreated because he’s a pastor One time he was standing behind the pulpit, I saw a guy literally walk up and slug my dad in the jaw in church So I know this wasn’t gonna be an easy road Now, I didn’t know about all this If I’d known about all of you, it’s like, I’m in (congregation laughs) Look up here When you decide to follow Jesus, there is no guarantee other than Jesus will lead you and that he knows better where you need to be than you know It’s not the promise of a happy ending It’s the promise of a promising and purposeful life and ending And as I sat there with all these doubts and all this oh my goodness, I’m about to commit my career to a God I’ve never seen and a book no one even believes is true? Andy, really? Your one shot at life? But I just remembered, you know, sort of coming to my senses and going, okay Well, if not him, who? You’re gonna follow something You’re gonna follow someone Besides, I’d seen too much, I knew too much I’d seen God’s faithfulness in my life, I’d seen God’s faithfulness in other people’s lives And you know what else I’d seen? Something all of you have seen I’d seen life without God I’d seen life without the context of eternity And I’d seen rich people and not so rich people live lives without God And I had enough sense of where that ended up on the inside of a person and the outside to know that’s not it And so I decided to pick up my fear

and my doubt and to follow “To whom shall I go? “To whom shall I go?” I would like for all of us to read this together out loud and if you’re not a religious person, I know this may be a little bit unconformable, but this is the question I’d love you to wrestle with Let’s say it together, ready? “To whom shall I go?” One more time “To whom shall go?” Isn’t it comforting to know that the men who knew Jesus personally wrestled like we do? Isn’t it comforting to know that John didn’t leave this out “This really makes us look bad, guys “I’m not gonna include this in the account.” Do you know why it’s in there? Because it happened And everybody has concerns, and everybody has doubts But blessed are those and blessed are you when we come to the conclusion, if not Jesus, who? If not Jesus, to whom shall I go? I’m so glad I picked up my fear and my doubt and followed And you will be glad too He will make your life better and he will make you better at life And he offers eternal life now, and do you know what eternal life is? Eternal life isn’t about you die, you go somewhere Eternal life is living this life in light of eternity Suddenly, the bookends are kicked off Suddenly, the end is not the end Suddenly, the end is within the context of eternity Suddenly, money is different, relationships are different, sacrifice is different What looks like a sacrifice without eternity, within the context of eternity doesn’t look like a sacrifice anymore It looks like an investment Everything looks different, everything is different when you’re invited into a life that’s lived within the context of eternity And Jesus offers eternal life, a quality of life, life that is life right now for those who will receive it