Sunday, October 14, 2007

 

Luke 9:57-62 Discipleship

And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. 59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. 61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. 62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God. The reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ indicated that true discipleship would be costly and exacting. No Easy assent to a creed.
Browning correctly interpreted the teaching of our Lord:
How very hard it is to be a Christian! Hard for you and me
Not the mere task of making real That duty up to its ideal,
Effecting thus, complete and whole, A purpose of the human soul,
For that is always hard to do.
Garibaldi in 1833 as a young man Garibaldi took an oath of dedicating his life to struggle for liberation of his homeland Italy from Austrian dominance. He raised several armies that finally brought about the unification of Italy and the liberation from Austrian and French rule. He continued this fight until 1870.
Some young men he hoped to enlist once said to him: “What do you offer us?”
“Offer you? I offer you neither pay nor quarters nor provisions. I offer hunger thirst forced marches battle and death. Let him who loves his country in his heart, not with his lips only, follow me.”
A “disciple” is rightly related to Jesus as a learner and follower
What is a “disciple”? Words like disciple, discipling, and discipleship are trendy evangelical terms. The terms have been used in contemporary Christian culture to mean a variety of things. The problem is that a term that means everything really is reduced to mean nothing. In order for us to understand the meaning of disciple we will look briefly at the way the word is used in the Bible.
Greek Culture
In Greek culture, before the time of Christ, “discipling” was considered the way of true teaching. Renowned teachers had their small bands that followed and sat at their feet to learn. For example, Socrates had his Plato, Plato had his Aristotle, and Aristotle had his Alexander the Great who spread Hellenistic ideas throughout the lands conquered (including Palestine)
The Greek word mathetes was used of this model of teaching and learning. It involved the disciple adopting the philosophy, practices, and way of life of the teacher. Usually physical proximity to the teacher was implied.
Gospels and Acts
The concept of disciple is expressed in the New Testament through two Greek words – mathetes (meaning “learner”) and akolouthein (meaning “to walk behind, to follow,” which frequently is used in the New Testament as a specialized term for following Jesus).
There are 261 references to mathetes in the Bible with all of these references in the Gospels and Acts. With only 10% of these in the book of Acts there is clearly an emphasis in the Gospels. This emphasis is also true of akolouthein. Of the 90 occurrences, 79 are found in the Gospels, the rest in Acts (4), Revelation (6), and 1 Corinthians (1)]. This clearly indicates discipleship is a close association with Jesus. (Anchor, 207)
However, it is also interesting to note that the word “disciple” can be used in a variety of ways such as:
• John the Baptist had disciples (Matthew 9:14), some of whom became disciples of Jesus (John 1)
• Pharisees had disciples (Matthew 22:15,16)
• Paul had disciples (Acts 9:25)
• Jesus had disciples. The word is used most often in the New Testament of the special and intensive relationship of people to Jesus. Mathetes is used of many different types of individuals as related to Jesus:
• Curious disciples – there were many – from scribes to sinners (Matthew 8:18-22 Mark 1:16-20 Mark 2:13-15 Luke 6:14-16 John 19:38), who went to hear Jesus because of curiosity of his words, his doctrine, his miracles (Matthew 5:1) and his teaching. Many were willing to listen to him, sometimes 5000 at one time. But many of these would defect (John 6:60-66).
• Convinced disciples – As they listened to his words they were convinced it was truth and believed on him (John 2: 11 Matthew 6: 13).
• Committed disciples – Refers to some or all of Jesus intimate circle and often a synonym for the Twelve (Matthew 10: 1 11:1 Luke 9: 54 John 6:8). Much of what he taught about his death and resurrection (Matthew 16:21), about the end of the age (Mark 13), about love, about the Father and the Spirit (John 14-16) was given only to the inner circle. Their following of Jesus was initiated by a call from Jesus. Whereas in rabbinical circles and in the Greek Philosophical schools a person made a voluntary decision to join the school of a master and so became a mathetes, with Jesus it was the call that was decisive (Luke 5:1-11 Matthew 5: 18f). They followed Jesus literally for the last months of his earthly ministry. This meant they left their occupations (Mark 1:18,19), father and mother (10:29), everything (10:28), and took up their crosses to follow Jesus. They had a commitment to his Person even more than to teaching. It was the unconditional sacrifice of the whole life (Matthew 10: 37 Luke 14: 26f Mark 3: 31-35 Luke 9: 59-62) for all of life
(Matthew 10:24 John 11:16).
Disciple means Lover The Lord Jesus asks for an unrivalled Love
And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
Many youth who grow up in conservative Christian homes and receive Christian education at church or parochial schools arrive at the threshold of adulthood with a concept of religion that is largely behavioral. Religion consists of living all the standards and regulations of the church and avoiding that which has been branded as “sins.” In a recent interview with Parade magazine, Brad Pitt explains why he no longer embraces Christianity. It turns out that he was raised as a Southern Baptist, but when he got to college he came upon some stumbling blocks that led him to cast aside his faith altogether. He describes his current feelings on “religion” in this way:
“Guilt is the thing I find most evil about it. It’s the thing I rail against the most. . . Religion works. I know there’s comfort there, a crash pad. It’s something to explain the world and tell you there is something bigger than you, and it is going to be alright in the end. ..”
The chart below depicts words of contrasts between “Religion” versus “Relationship”. You can probably other contrasts that should be included. Which column of words best describes the way you presently relate to God?
Religion Relationship
Humanity seeking God God seeking humanity
Rules, laws and codes centered Person centered
Top Down Mutual
Works Grace
Have to Want to
Authority Influence
Static Dynamic
One way Communication Two way Communication
Police Father
Guilt Freedom
Enforcement Enjoyment
The central Core of Christian faith is a love relationship with God
Mark 12:28-31 states, “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.”
This is one commandment expressed in two directions – love for God and love for people. The Greatest Commandment is the true fulfillment of all the Law. Expressed conversely, without a Great Commandment heart, without a genuine love relationship with God, we cannot fulfill any religious duty. At the core of the Christian faith is a love relationship with God.
Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ? This would sound weird and homosexual were you not to understand a few things. 1. The Lord Jesus Christ is God. 2. He died for you.
He has set His love on you to rescue you from sin and Satan and death and hell.
The Love He has for you is not a sexual love (eros). It is greater than a friendship love (phileo). It is a sacrificial love (agape) that counts the object valuable above itself.
The son of God loved me and gave Himself for me.
Here is love, vast as the ocean, Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom, Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember? Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten, Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.
On the mount of crucifixion, Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers, Poured incessant from above,
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice Kissed a guilty world in love.
Let me all Thy love accepting, Love Thee, ever all my days;
Let me seek Thy kingdom only And my life be to Thy praise;
Thou alone shalt be my glory, Nothing in the world I see.
Thou hast cleansed and sanctified me, Thou Thyself hast set me free.
In Thy truth Thou dost direct me By Thy Spirit through Thy Word;
And Thy grace my need is meeting, As I trust in Thee, my Lord.
Of Thy fullness Thou art pouring Thy great love and power on me,
Without measure, full and boundless, Drawing out my heart to Thee.

Disciple means Learner.
The Lord Jesus asks for an Unceasing sacrifice.
59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
Knowing God and making Him known is to be a supreme pursuit The Navigators discipleship organisation take as their motto To Know Him and to make Him Known. That is the call of God on our lives. To Know Him and to make Him Known.
In Philippians 3 the apostle Paul has been telling about his religious stature before he met Christ. But then he makes an electrifying assertion in verses 8 through 11.
What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
“God is a Person and can be known in increasing degrees of intimate acquaintance as we prepare our hearts for the wonder.” “To know God is at once the easiest and the most difficult thing in the world.”
For the apostle Paul, it was not that Christ was merely preferable to the other religion. The other religion was rubbish, a garbage dump, a manure pile. There was no comparison! And the pursuit of Paul’s heart was to know the Lovely Person of Christ that he had met on the Damascus road. So this pursuit of God should be our heart pursuit as well. It is described in the song,
“In the Secret.”
In the secret, in the quiet place, In the stillness You are there,
In the secret, in the quiet hour I wait only for You, Cause I want to know You more,
I want to know You I want to hear Your voice I want to know You more I want to touch You I want to see Your face I want to know You more.
I am reaching for the highest goal, That I might receive the prize Pressing onward,
Pressing every hindrance aside, Out of my way,
Cause I want to know you more.
Knowing God is eternal life
A Bible college instructor once told a story about a famous missionary woman came to campus when he had been a student. The students were hanging on her every word to find out her great secrets to effective service for God. The students were surprised when she said, “God did not take me to Africa to serve him nearly as much as he did for me to get to know him.”
John 17:3 informs us that, “this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” 1 John 5:11-13 states, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
In our modern evangelical approach to the Gospel message, we have held out eternal life as the prize and the decision for the Lord Jesus as the necessary means to that prize. The basic idea is that “if you want heaven then you will have to have Jesus.” Although this is in partly true, the emphasis is distorted. In fact, knowing God in the Lord Jesus is the prize and life and eternal life are results of the real prize of knowing him!
Knowing God is more than knowing about God Our aim in studying the Godhead must be to know God himself better. Our concern must be to enlarge our acquaintance, not simply with the doctrine of God’s attributes but with the living God whose attributes they are. As he is the subject of our study, and our helper in it, so he must himself be the end of it. We must seek, in studying God, to be led to God.
You can know much about God without having much knowledge of him.
When I began a relationship with my wife, it began with a fact-finding mission. Who was this woman? Where did she come from? What were her goals in life? I learned more and more about her – that she came from Engadine, there were 3 children in her family, her Father died of a heart attack when she was eight, she liked flowers, and much more. However, if the relationship were simply about knowing more about Lorelle – just storing up files of knowledge about her – it would be very frustrating and maybe could not be called a relationship at all. The fulfillment has come through 20 years of experiencing life together. Do we know more about each other? Absolutely! But knowing more about her is only the means to a deep experiential knowledge of living in oneness of marriage relationship.
God is a Person, not simply a series of principles or a Theology textbook, or a set of concepts. A Living Person, he calls us to know him in the depth of experiential relationship.
In evangelicalism, where we have emphasized eternal life as the prize, we have missed the mark. We have missed that conversion is not the end (because it is then that the prize of heaven is secured) but the beginning of the real prize of knowing God. The Christian faith is a life long journey of entering into the depth of relationship with an Infinite, Loving, Unfathomable, Mysterious, and Personal God.
What were we made for? To know God.
What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God.
What is the eternal life that Jesus gives? Knowledge of God
What is the best thing in life? Knowledge of God.
What in a man gives God most pleasure? Knowledge of Himself. ~ J. I. Packer, Knowing God
To Know Him and to make Him Known
59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

Disciple Means Lordship. Let the Lord Jesus Christ be Lord in your life.The Lord Jesus asks for an unqualified renunciation
61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. 62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
A “disciple” is a believer who increasingly reflects the character and priorities of Jesus
The most important factor in defining a disciple is the teaching of Jesus. In relation to the believer’s discipleship it seems apparent that the “Committed” disciple as noted above is the goal of the believer.
We can summarize Jesus’ teachings on committed disciples as follows. A disciple:
• Is willing to deny self, take up a cross daily, and follow him (Luke 9:23 25) Then He said to [them]all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever wants to save his • life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. 25 What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself?
• Puts Christ before self, family, and possessions (Luke 14:25-35)
• Is committed to Christ’s teachings (John 8:31) So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word,you really are My disciples.
• Is committed to world evangelism (Matthew 9:36-38) When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”
• Loves others as Christ loves (John 13:34, 35) I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Bill Hull describes the Disciple’s Profile. He says the disciple:
• remains in Christ (15:7) If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.
• is Obedient (John 15:9 As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love.
Matthew 28:20; John 14:21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
• bears fruit (John 15:8, 16) My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to beMy disciples.
• glorifies God (John 15:8)
• has Joy (John 15:11) I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
• loves as Christ loves (John 15:12-14,17)
Disciples of Jesus are like the Master. They look like Jesus in character and act on the same priorities as he does.
“Discipleship” is not an optional Christian lifestyle
“Discipleship is not an option...There is a widespread view in the Church... discipleship is “an extra voluntary commitment.” This is not the Bible’s perspective...if you are not a disciple following Jesus, you have not been born again. Furthermore, Scripture is clear that to be a disciple is costly. Bill Hull draws these conclusions about what it means to make a “disciple”:
Truly regenerate believers are technically disciples from the moment of spiritual birth. True believers are followers of Jesus; this does not mean that they will become mature followers of Jesus or they will make their lives count for Christ. They may live in spiritual slumber, their lives may waste God’s gifts and talents. Therefore, the command to go and make disciples does include evangelism. Introducing people to Christ is the first step to the Great Commission.
• Jesus meant more than “make converts.” While every true believer is a disciple, Jesus meant more than just “go and do evangelism” Believers are to be baptized, openly identified with Christ, and taught to obey all that is commanded, that is, to be trained and built into mature, reproducing disciples. When Jesus said, “Make disciples,” by necessity, the disciples understood it to mean much more than simply getting people to believe in Jesus. They had seen hundreds come and go; had witnessed the multitudes of the needy, the takers, and the superficial scramble after the spectacular, and knew that getting people to say, “Yes, I believe.” It was not enough. They had to interpret it to mean to make out of others what Jesus had made out of them. The very fact that they had to count the cost, make sacrifices, and follow him, meant that Jesus required a long and intentional process for people to become disciples. Their task began with evangelism, but that was just the start. They needed to produce people committed to reaching the world, those through whom the gospel could be multiplied. Making disciples includes winning them, but winning them is just the first step.
Discipleship is a life long journey more than a destination. Are you a disciple of the Lord Jesus?
Do you Love Him? With an Unrivalled Love?
Do you Learn from him? With a sacrificial determined desire?
Do you Let Him be Lord? Renouncing all others do you yield yourself to Him?





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