Jesus calls

Mennonite pastor April YamasakiBook excerpt 

Congratulations! You have won an all inclusive cruise to the Caribbean. To claim your prize, simply press 9. 

The call of Jesus is not just for a few special people, but for every one of us.

How do you respond to a message like this? Perhaps you’ve gotten an email invitation, or a spam text. Are you eager to claim your prize? Do you call your family and friends to share the good news? Ignore the message? Wonder if it’s some kind of scam?

Again and again throughout his public ministry, Jesus called people to follow him. In his own way, he was just as persistent as any robo call—but his call was and is much more significant and life-changing! Jesus extended a personal invitation—not as some fly-by-night scam, but an invitation to a new way of life that would last forever. The call of Jesus offered a real prize, but in his ministry and teaching, and by his own example, Jesus was also very clear that it carried a real price. More than anything else, his call provoked response—some believed immediately and gladly and invited others to follow; some just as quickly lost interest; others reacted with criticism and anger; others refused and simply walked away.

Young and old, men and women, people who are active in their jobs and people who are sick and struggling with disease, people who may become household names and those who continue to work in obscurity all their lives, those with extra money in the bank and those with no money left at the end of the month, those with a long string of degrees and others without formal education —throughout history and even today, the call of Jesus is not just for a few special people, but for every one of us.

All of those who follow Jesus do so because of who Jesus is, and we learn to know who Jesus is by believing and following. As the early Anabaptist leader Hans Denck wrote: No one can truly know Christ unless they follow him in life. [1] That was true of the early disciples who learned to know Jesus by spending time with him, listening to his teaching, following his example, and believing in him.  Likewise we learn to know Jesus as we believe and follow him with a joyful “yes” in answer to his call.

[1]Adapted from “The Contention that Scripture Says,” in Walter Klaassen, ed., Anabaptism in Outline: Selected Primary Sources (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1981), 87.

To think about:

  • Hans Denck, a 16th century Anabaptist, said, “No one can truly know Christ unless they follow him in life.” How do understand this statement? Do you think it is true?
  • What does following Jesus mean for personal ethics and daily living? Does it really change the way I interact with other people, the way I manage my time, spend my money, the work I do, etc.? How does it challenge the world around me-the world of popular culture, the social, political, and other power structures?

Post your responses…
to these questions or any other thoughts on the Third Way Facebook page.  Or write to info@thirdway.com.


This excerpt is from the book Jesus Matters and was written by April Yamasaki with Peter Sensenig.

April Yamasaki is lead pastor of Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Abbotsford, British Columbia. In the books and articles she has written, April has a special interest in exploring how scripture relates to daily life.

Peter Sensenig is a graduate of Palmer Theological Seminary and served as associate pastor at Oxford Circle Mennonite Church in Philadelphia.