At Connection Point, we have been journeying through the Gospel of Mark. In Mark 1:17. Jesus is walking along the Sea of Gallilee and he notices two fishermen: Simon and his brother Andrew. “Come follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” Those four words “I will make you” tell us so much. Jesus is saying, follow me, and I will change you into something more than what you think you are. That’s true for you and me today!
God transforms people throughout the Scriptures. Later in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus went to heal a synagogue leader’s daughter. On his way there, large crowds pressed in all around him, and a woman who had had a bleeding issue for 12 years touched his cloak and she was immediately healed. This woman, because of her condition, would have been considered unclean and very likely would have had to yell “unclean” as she went through the town. As Jesus encounters her in Mark 5:34, “He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you…” Because of her faith and acknowledging that Jesus is Messiah, He changed her into something way more than what she thought she was. He changed her from “unclean” into “daughter!”
In his gospel, Luke tells about a chief tax collector named Zacchaeus. Tax collectors were hated. They worked for the Roman government so were considered traitors and they cheated and stole from their fellow Jews, so they were wealthy. Zacchaeus was hated by his people, was probably disowned by his family and his faith, and he was lonely. On top of that, he was very short. Zacchaeus had every reason to feel worthless, like he doesn’t matter. He probably didn’t like himself very much and lost all self-respect. He might have even felt hopeless.
But one day Jesus was coming through his town and Zacchaeus wanted to see what all the fuss was about. The crowd was so large he couldn’t see above the people, so he climbed a tree, just to get a glimpse of Jesus. When Jesus got to the tree Zacchaeus had climbed, He stopped, looked up, and said, “Zacchaeus…” He called him by name. He didn’t call him cheat, or thief, or shrimp. He called him Zacchaeus, which means – are you ready for this – “the Pure One.” Jesus is affirming who He created Zacchaeus to be, rather than what Zacchaeus thinks he is. He wants to do the same for you. You may have heard you won’t amount to anything, or you may have done things you’re not proud of, but Jesus knows better and wants to transform you into the real you, not who you think you are.
Recently I led a celebration of life service for a very dear brother in Christ. He was well known for saying, “when I was a heathen….” to refer to himself the way he was before he knew Jesus. The day this man chose to follow Jesus and ask him to be Lord of his life, God made him into something new – a child of God. One of this man’s favorite Bible verses is John 1:12 “ Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—” My brother followed Jesus and Jesus transformed him from heathen to one of His own.
God didn’t simply give these people a new name. He transformed them, he changed them, He made each of them into a new person. It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from, what your history is, what people think of you or what you think of yourself. Follow Jesus and he will make you into something new; something more, something he created you to be.
The writer is associate pastor of connection and missions at Connection Point Church of God, Sidney.