The children's game "Simon Says" is a game about following what the leader, Simon, says. It's a game of imitation and doing what the leader or teacher tells you to do. Many probably do not realize this, but "Simon Say" is a game of discipleship. I'll talk more about that in a minute.
Today we are starting a four-week study titled The Definition of Discipleship. In the next four weeks, we will look at…
Discipleship is one of the most important calls for the Christian individual and the church. There are conferences, retreats, books, and seminars designed around the concept and importance of discipleship. But do we know what it means to be a disciple? Do we know how to effectively be a disciple or be involved in discipling others? These are relatively easy questions to answer, but the practical processes are more involved. In the next four weeks, we will define the terms and practically answer what it means to be a disciple and the importance of discipleship individually and in the church.
What is a Disciple?
The Greek word for disciple is Matétés and means a person who learns from another through formal or informal instruction—'disciple, pupil.
In the New Testament, it generally denotes the men who have attached themselves to Jesus as their Master. Thus, the process of Biblical discipleship is to be conformed to the image of Christ, which means we talk the way he talked, walk the way he walked, and respond the way he responded. In simple terms, discipleship is doing what the leader (Jesus) says; to imitate and emulate Him. It's about living your life worthy of the calling of Jesus by imitating Him! This brings us to the essential aspect of discipleship… If you don't know how the leader (Jesus) lived, then how can you imitate or emulate Him? Let’s take a look at how Jesus lived.
Last week I introduced you to the Sermon the Mount and when Jesus finished preaching, He went out and ministered to the people. He ministers by healing, (a leper, a paralytic, a blind man, a woman with a bleeding disorder, and Peter's mother-in-law) by performing miracles (He calms the storm, He casts out demons and evil spirits, and He brings a young girl back to life). He spent much of his time ministering, healing, and teaching to those around him and this is when Jesus introduces the concept of discipleship.
Matthew chapter 9:37- 38 concludes with Jesus' call to discipleship, he says, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Jesus notes there is plenty for the disciples to do, but there are not enough workers to accomplish the task he has set forth, so he tells the disciples to pray so the Lord would send them to the harvest.
Matthew 10:1 – 15 details Jesus’ call to his disciples to go out do what He has done. He commissions them to go to the lost sheep of Israel and announce the Kingdom of God is at hand. When the disciples go and proclaim the Kingdom, they are commanded to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons. Jesus commissions them to go out and do what He did. Jesus does what all good leaders do…He models discipleship (shows them) and then commissions them to go out and do as he does. This is called "The Law of Replication".
A question that is asked frequently is, "What are some good programs, courses, and models for discipleship?" It would be easy to point them to the thousands of books, courses, and models online, in churches and bookstores, but isn’t it better to point them to Jesus and His Word? Jesus showed us how to be disciples and I believe firmly that discipleship is caught and not taught. This simply means the best way to learn how to be a disciple is to be around other disciples who are following their calling as disciples of Jesus.
Matthew 10:16 – 25
Jesus’ call to discipleship involves obedience, courage, and abandonment. He tells the disciples he is sending them out as sheep among wolves! He warns that they will face opposition, intense persecution, and those who you love, and trust may oppose you because of your call. Jesus mentions that people won't hate and persecute them because they don't like them, instead they will hate them because they hated Him. Nevertheless, he gives them hope, assurance, and a promise, “everyone who endures to the end will be saved.” He instructs the disciples, when faced with opposition to leave and go to the next town. Jesus sends his disciples and clearly lays out what they will face in their journey.
Matthew 10:26 – 33
Jesus spent a good deal of time telling his disciples about the cost of discipleship, he encourages them not to fear the opposition. He encourages them not to fear those who can kill the body and who cannot kill the soul, they are to fear the one who can destroy both body and soul. In today’s terms it can mean do not fear those who try to control, bully, and intimidate you, instead, fear God because His kingdom, His righteousness, and His truth is what matters most. The kind of fear he speaks about reverential awe. This means that we know our place before a holy God. The fear of God always reminds me of the interaction between Mr. Beaver and Susan in THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA by C.S. Lewis
Mr. Beaver says, “Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion."
"Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver ..." Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."
This is a perfect description of God. He holds the power of death and life; thus it does not make him safe, but He is also a loving God who cares deeply for us. He cares about the sparrows, the grass, his creation and He certainly cares about you. So, there is no need to worry or fear."
Jesus gives the disciples the charge to be bold about their faith. He warns of opposition and persecution. He cautions about betrayal and intimidation. He alerts that you may lose what is important and precious in your life for my sake. He then encourages, don't let that stop you… Be bold, be courageous, because if you acknowledge him before men, then He will acknowledge you as one of His own. If you deny Him before men, then He will deny you before the Father.
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are a disciple of Christ. Today, I gave a general introduction to the call of the disciple. I hope I accomplished my goal for today is to help you of understand you are all called disciples of Jesus Christ and the call to discipleship is not something just for the ultra-spiritual, it is a call for everyone.
My second goal is to help you practically discover a disciple is and how it can look for you today
What is a Disciple?
As I conclude this message, I want to encourage you to continue in your Bible Study guide in your bulletin and work through the daily reading and questions to help you continue discovering your call as a disciple of Jesus Christ. The life of discipleship is not an easy life, but it is a good life. Discipleship is not always a safe life, but it is a good life. Discipleship does not always go the way we think it should, but it's not about us… It's about Jesus and the Good news of His death, resurrection, and Kingdom.
 Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 327.
 Karl Heinrich Rengstorf, “Μανθάνω, Καταμανθάνω, Μαθητής, Συμμαθητής, Μαθήτρια, Μαθητεύω,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 441.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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