For the week commencing 6th October 2019
Notes for next Sunday’s sermon – “What is a disciple?”
We are now beginning a new series called “We exist to glorify God by making disciples…”
Here’s the outline:
13 Oct …but what is a disciple?
20 Oct …why make disciples?
27 Oct …how are disciples made?
Noosa tri weekend – will be a one-off sermon, not in this series. Sunshine service, 5pm, Sat, 2nd Nov
10 Nov …the cost (of discipleship)
17 Nov …why disciples stagnate
24 Nov …how disciples grow
Day 1: Read Luke 6:40, Luke 5:33, Matthew 5:1-2
A disciple is a learner, a student apprenticed to a teacher. In our society today this usually relates to the gaining of knowledge and equipping oneself with the knowledge to pursue a career or a line of work.
However, Jesus had a much broader interpretation of what a disciple was. The disciple was a follower, a worshipper and a learner. The disciples not only gained knowledge to learn and understand Jesus teachings; they walked beside him, followed his ways and learned to become like their teacher by radically changing their lives.
To be a disciple of Jesus meant leaving everything connected to their current lives behind. They were asked to commit and submit their lives totally to watching, listening, practising, asking questions, learning to be like Jesus and emulating His life.
It was an abandonment of old beliefs – leaving family, work and friends to embark on a lifetime journey of submission to the ways of their teacher – to become focused on others rather than themselves. As Christ laid down his life, so they would be prepared to lay down their lives for the promotion of his teachings.
These “learners” were not just learning a subject. Listening to his words, they saw his words in action in his life and it was a life like his, into which they sought to be transformed.
DAY 2: Read Luke 14:25-33
What are the pre-requisites?
In our worldly thinking, we require pre-requisites before embarking on learning. To begin with, age is important, then successful completion of a level of study, exams passed and so we progress.
Jesus repeatedly enforced the costs involved in becoming a true disciple. Unfortunately, today there is a tendency to urge people to be saved, to become disciples of our Lord, by highlighting the benefits: forgiveness, salvation, blessings; but not counting the cost. Is it any wonder that by promoting this diluted version of discipleship, people become disillusioned and fall away?
Jesus outlines this cost in Luke’s gospel. However, we should understand, he does not mean we cannot love God and family, for we are told elsewhere of our obligations to our families. He means that our love for him must take precedence. No human relationship should be more intimate than our relationship with Jesus.
To be a disciple of Jesus required full repentance; a recognition that forgiveness was required for lives lived in rebellion to God and enslaved to the desires of a darkened world. A radical life change – dying to one’s old life and being born again into a radically different life of service, submission and obedience – fully accepting the will and authority of Jesus.
This total submission was liberating for the disciples as it is for us today. In their case it brought freedom from the burdens laid upon them by the scribes and Pharisees; freedom from the heavy burden of sin through Jesus gracious forgiveness.
DAY 3: Read 1 Corinthians 13
All Christians are called to be disciples. However, in today’s materialistic society the requirements Jesus laid down have in many cases been “watered down.” The radical relationship of self-sacrificing love and humility demanded by Jesus, has been replaced with a relationship that is “easy to follow.” A relationship which entices converts not disciples. There is a version of Christianity which promotes an understanding that we can have Jesus as part of our lives when he should be our whole life!
The disciples ate, drank, walked and slept with Jesus from the time he called them until the day he died. He wasn’t part of their lives; he was their life. Jesus was looking for radical devotion, complete commitment and undivided dedication then, just as he is today.
Jesus’ mission was to transform lives so people would become life-long learners of Jesus. The radical turn around in the disciples’ lives after Jesus’ resurrection, is the transformation Jesus expects in all of us. No turning back!
The love described in our chapter today is all-embracing. It is love like that of Jesus whom we serve and follow. A disciple of Jesus – a Jesus’ learner – will increasingly love like Jesus.
DAY 4: Read Mark 4:13-20
Disciples are believers whose lives have been transformed to be like Jesus. They are focused on Jesus. They don’t just go to church on Sunday, they are the church.
Disciples are committed to the mission of Jesus. They don’t just listen to or read the word of God; they live it. Disciples make sacrifices to follow his ways – to live in service of him, one another and those who do not yet follow Jesus.
A disciple is someone who whole-heartedly follows the life and example of Jesus; who makes his mission their mission, his values their values.
A disciple is someone who finds their identity, purpose and meaning in Jesus. He is the centre of their lives, as they live every day for him.
Jesus offers us grace and love without conditions – but not without expectations. He expects us to live a radically transformed life. His call to each of his disciples is different. Each is uniquely gifted to carry out a valuable function in this world – to meet the extreme standard set. Jesus must be greater than everything else.
A disciple is someone engaged in transforming lives, by pointing people to Jesus. A disciple is someone is whom God’s word has taken root in good soil, and over time, “reproduces” so that many people also become disciples of Jesus.
Are you a life-long learner of Jesus?
By Marg Hansen