What unique summer we have had so far! Many of our church activities are on hold because of the Corona Virus. As a result, most of our small group Bible studies have transferred over to video chat. Studying the Bible with people face to face is such a blessing and, unfortunately, we are not able to do that right now. But, in spite of all the changes, we are still walking through the Gospel of Luke. Two and a half years ago, we began the journey of walking through the entire Bible, cover to cover. We are currently in the Gospels. Our focus has been the Gospel of Luke, although we have incorporated other Gospel passages as well. This week, we are going to focus on Luke 9. I want to share what we are learning with you here in this article.
Many books have been written and many sermons have been preached on the subject of discipleship. There is nothing wrong with that. But, the best place to learn about discipleship is the Bible. It is the source of discipleship. We learn everything that we know about discipleship from the Bible. Jesus did not invent the idea of discipleship. The idea of discipleship goes all the way back to the book of Genesis. Jesus continued the process of discipleship with His own followers. In Luke 9, we are going to discover three aspects of discipleship that are invaluable to us today. Luke 9 covers the confession of a disciple, the call of a disciple, and the conviction of a disciple. Based on what we are going to learn, you will be able to determine if you are a disciple of Jesus Christ or not.
I. The confession of a disciple
In order to be a follower of Jesus Christ, a disciple, you must know who Jesus is and how He presents Himself in the Scriptures. During Jesus’ public ministry, many people had many different ideas about who Jesus was. The same is true today. Some, today, think that He was a great religious leader, a great man, a great teacher, an influencer ahead of His time. Those are all true, but, is that how Jesus is presented in the Scriptures?
18 And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?”
19 They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.”
20 And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”
21 But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone,
22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” (Luke 9)
Did you notice who initiated the conversation by asking a question? It was Jesus. He asked His disciples who the common people thought that He was. What’s the word on the streets about Me? The answers varied then as they do today. After hearing the disciples’ responses, He then asked who they think that He is. Peter gives the answer that matters. If you want to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, this must be your confession as well. If you do not believe this about Jesus then you are not His disciple. Peter says that Jesus is the Christ. The word Christ is a title that is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah”. Peter confesses that Jesus is the long awaited and promised Rescuer of mankind. This idea is first presented in the book of Genesis. We have traced the line of Messianic promises all through the Old Testament. Peter recognized that Jesus is the fulfillment of all of those promises. There are about 300 Messianic promises in the Old Testament that reveal the first advent of the Messiah. Jesus fulfilled all of them. He did not have control over many of them. He did not chose to be born a male. No human chooses his or her sex at birth. He did not choose the time in history in which He was born. He did not have control over His family heritage yet, all of these promises were made hundreds, even thousands of years before His birth. Peter understood all of that and he surrendered to the authority of Christ and the authority of the Word of God. Peter also confesses that Jesus is God in the flesh. This is what separates the disciples from the rest of humanity. There are many who believe great things about Jesus but, when it comes to believing that Jesus is God, many reject that notion. In order to be a follower of Christ, you must confess that Jesus is God in the flesh. If you do confess that, then you are not a follower of Jesus Christ. The final confession is trust in the accomplished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. A follower of Jesus Christ believes in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That faith leads a person to experience what the Bible teaches as “salvation”. The word salvation literally means to be rescued. Faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ means that we trust that Christ paid the price for our sins, that His resurrection from the dead broke sin’s power in our lives, and that one day, Jesus will return and free us from the presence of our sin nature. Have you trusted in the finished work of Jesus Christ for your salvation? Do you believe that Jesus is God in the flesh? Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ?
II. The call of a disciple
The disciple’s confession is followed by a calling. Believing the right information is only the beginning. There is a calling that you must answer as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Have you answered the call? Do you know what the call is?
23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
24 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
25 “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?
26 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
27 “But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9)
The calling that Jesus gives is to follow Him, moment by moment, day by day. This calling is for anyone who has ears to hear. If people want to follow Jesus in the process of discipleship, then they must deny themselves. Literally, they were to give up on being the leader of their own lives. They need to repent, have their mind changed about their needs. They are still thinking about the physical. They are not interested in the spiritual process of discipleship. Stop doing it your own way. Surrender to Jesus Christ. Take up your cross means that all other paths are closed and you have one path to follow for the rest of your life. It is a word picture of a man who has been sentenced to death and must walk only one path for the rest of his short life, the path from sentencing to execution. Repenting means having your mind changed about what you are going to do in this life and give yourself up to one path, the path of following Jesus moment by moment, day by day. The people have a choice; they can try to save their lives and do things their own way, which they had been doing all their lives or, they could choose to surrender to Jesus. The disciples were learning what they were supposed to teach people when they called them to Christ, the process of discipleship. Based on this teaching, Jesus is not calling the people to believe and receive salvation and then give themselves to the process of discipleship. Jesus is calling them to become His disciples. Part of that process is repentance and faith. Salvation is a part of the whole process of discipleship.
Have you answered the call to follow Jesus? How has your life been changed as a result?
III. The conviction of a disciple
There is a certain attitude that comes with being a disciple of Jesus Christ. What is that attitude? Let’s see if we can discover the answer from the text.
46 An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest.
47 But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side,
48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.” (Luke 9)
The first conviction of a disciple is that he rejects the thought pattern of the world when it comes to leadership. When men and women are led by their sin nature, they want to climb the ladder of success so that they can be served by the people below them. This is a selfish way of thinking but, it is the way of the world that does not follow Jesus Christ. The disciples still had a sin nature so they had a tendency to think and act like the world. Jesus corrects their thinking and helps them to develop the correct attitude.
57 As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.”
58 And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
59 And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.”
60 But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”
61 Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.”
62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9)
The second conviction of a disciple is that he chooses, in humility, to serve others instead of being served. His number one priority in life becomes to follow Jesus and live as a servant of others. Have you dedicated you life to following Jesus? Have you rejected the thought pattern of the world? Do you seek to be served by others or, do you seek to serve others on a daily basis? What excuses keep you from following Jesus moment by moment, day by day? Did you notice the excuses in the text? They are noble excuses yet, are they worth it?
- I will follow Jesus after I have a place to live.
- I will follow Jesus after my parents are gone.
- I would follow Jesus but, I have a family.
Based on all that we have seen in this lesson, are you a follower of Jesus Christ? Have you confessed Jesus? Have you answered the call? What is your attitude when it comes to serving, do you want to serve or, do you want to be served? What excuses have you made that keep you from following Jesus Christ? May the Lord help us become faithful followers of Jesus Christ, moment by moment, day by day!