Jesus’ Call to Discipleship

000000000000000000000000000000000000000-jesus-calls-leviHere are Southern Calvert Baptist Church, we are continuing our journey through the entire Bible over a three year period. Currently, we are in year three and we are studying the Gospel of Luke. We spent two years walking through the Old Testament tracing the promise of the coming Messiah and how God worked in human history to fulfill that promise. Almost two thousand years ago, several Jewish people who had spent their lives looking forward to the coming of the Messiah were blessed to be an integral part of the fulfilled Promise. These people all had several things in common. They were all good students of the Word of God. They had all surrendered to the will of God in their lives. In other words, they all had a relationship with God, based on the fact that they were looking forward to the coming Messiah to be their Savior. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was one of those whom we encountered. From her song of praise, we discover that she was a student of the Old Testament. Then we encounter the father of John the Baptist, Zaharias. He was a servant of the Lord yet, he struggled with fear and doubt like we all do. During the birth announcement of Jesus Christ, delivered by an angel to Mary even before she conceived, we were introduced to Jesus as the King, Savior, and Servant.  Upon the actual birth of Jesus, when He was taken to the temple to be dedicated, we are introduced to Simeon and Anna, both of whom were students of the Old Testament and servants of the Lord. They declare Jesus to be Servant, Messiah, and Redeemer. Finally, we are introduced to John the Baptist and his ministry of calling people to repentance and faith in the coming Messiah.

Jesus has been baptized in the Jordan river by John the Baptist and He has endured the Temptation in the wilderness. Based on Jesus’ encounter with Satan, we discover that His parents had taught the Word of God to Him while He was growing up. Now, Jesus is about to begin His public ministry, calling people to the process of discipleship. This week’s lesson is based on Luke 5. Jesus’ earthly ministry was all about discipleship. If we claim to be His followers then we need to do as He did, Jesus made disciples and taught His disciples how to make disciples.

I. Jesus’ Calling to Discipleship

The chapter opens up with Jesus out and about among the common people. This separated Jesus from the other religious teachers of His day. He did not stay behind four walls and wait for people to come to Him. He went out to where the people were. Also, He was interested in connecting with the common man, not just the social elites of the day. Power, prestige, and position were not important to Jesus. He came to be a servant-leader. This was not a new concept. The Old Testament is full of examples of godly leaders who were servant-leaders.

1 Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the Word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret;
2 and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets.
3 And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat. (Luke 5)

Did you notice what Jesus was doing in verses one, two, and three? He was interacting with the common people and teaching the Word of God to them. This was the foundation of Jesus’ ministry. He was a student of the Word and He taught others to be students of the Word. This is what ministry looks like. We have to get out among the common people and teach them how to become good students of the Word of God. We have to model what a good student is by studying the Scriptures ourselves. What was Jesus teaching from the Word when He taught the people? Luke does not tell us in this passage but, we can turn to the Gospel of Mark for more details,

14 Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
16 As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.
17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1)

The Gospel is outlined in this chapter. The first things that Jesus preaches is the time has come, all of the prophecies have been fulfilled and the kingdom of heaven has come in your midst. The kingdom of heaven is a reality. This was followed by a call to repentance. The Greek word that is transliterated into English as “repentance” is “Metanoia“. It is composed of 2 other Greek words, “meta” which means “after” and “noia” which means “to understand profoundly”. When the 2 words come together to form “Metanoia” we get “after understanding profoundly”. The word “Metanoia” in itself means a change of mind that leads to a change of action. So, the word “repentance” literally means “after you understand the Gospel in a profound way, you have a change of mind that leads to a lifestyle change”. The second part of the Gospel message is to believe. To believe means to be convinced of something so much that you are ready to surrender. To believe in Christ means to surrender to Him. The third part of the message of the Gospel is to become a disciple/follower of Jesus Christ. The final part of the message is, “learn to catch others with the same tactics that I (Jesus) used with you“. What about you, have your heard the message of the Gospel? Have you responded in repentance, faith, follow, and training?

II. Peter’s Response

As Jesus was teaching all who could hear His voice, He extended a calling to discipleship. Peter, upon seeing the miracle that Jesus performed, responded to the call of discipleship.

8 But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
9 For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken;
10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”
11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him. (Luke 5)

Peter’s initial response was fear. This was actually a positive response. As I read this portion of the passage, I was reminded of an Old Testament passage.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)

Fear could also be translated “respect” in Proverbs and Luke 5. Peter began to respect Jesus as God and as a result, Peter began to worship Jesus. This is what answering the call to discipleship looks like in a person’s life. Peter bowed his knee in surrender to Jesus as his Lord. The next step in the process of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is that Peter began to see his sinful state and confessed that sin before Jesus and before all the witnesses around him. Finally, we discover that Peter answered the call and began to follow Jesus. Based on what we saw in Mark 1, Peter repented and placed his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Has this ever happened to you? Have you encountered the Jesus through the Word of God and been convinced that He is God? Did that encounter lead you to respect, worship, confess, and bow your knee in surrender to Jesus Christ? Peter spent the rest of his life, from that moment on, learning to be a follower of Jesus Christ and learning how to make new followers of Jesus Christ. What have you dedicated your life to accomplishing?

III. Levi’s Response

Jesus called the people to follow Him and a few fishermen responded. Jesus continued to minister among the people, taking His disciples along to train them in the ways of disciple-making. Jesus did not just look for common people to teach, He also looked for sinners. All of us are sinners but, all of us have not come to the conclusion that each of us is the worst of sinners. Among the Jewish population of Jesus’ day, people had the same mindset. You could always find a sinner more depraved than you. There was an exception to the rule. That exception was the tax-collectors. Everyone hated the tax-collectors, and rightfully so. They were using their position to extort money from their own people and the people were powerless to do anything about it. Tax-collectors did not have to be convinced that they were sinners. They knew it, along with everyone else. That is why the encounter with Levi was so shocking to the people.

27 After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “FollowMe.”
28 And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him.
29 And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them. (Luke 5)

Keep in mind that when Jesus encountered Levi, He taught Levi what we saw outlined in Mark 1. This means that Levi repented, placed his faith in Jesus Christ, and began to follow Him. All of those details are implied in every encounter that a person has with Jesus Christ. The authors simply outline it once in the book and we are to apply it to every encounter that Jesus had. My favorite part of this section is the fact that Levi, after being changed by God, decided to throw a party and invite all of his sinful friends over. This was probably a common theme among him and his friends. I am sure that his sinful friends were expecting business as usual with food and drink along with other “things”, yet, when they arrived at the party, they encountered Jesus instead. Jesus preached the Gospel to them, the Gospel that they so desperately needed. Jesus called them to repentance and faith.

30 The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?”
31 And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.
32 “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5)

The Pharisees and scribes were the religious teachers of the day and they were the ones who should have been sharing the Word of God with the sinners around them to lead those sinners to repentance. They would not even associate with the common people, much less sinners and tax-collectors. The problem was, the Pharisees and the scribes were also sinners in need of repentance. They simply would not admit it. The tax-collectors and sinners knew who they were and had no problem admitting their need for repentance. That is why when they encountered Jesus, they were drawn to Him and to the message of the Gospel. The Pharisees were tuned off by the fact they Jesus was calling them to admit that they needed repentance and forgiveness of sins. Do you see your need for repentance and forgiveness of your sins? As a follower of Jesus, do you use your sphere of influence to introduce people to Jesus the way that Levi did? May the Lord help us respond to His calling with repentance that leads to faith, and faith that leads to worship, and worship that leads to going to our sphere of influence to help those around us encounter Jesus Christ, for His glory and our own good!

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