Models Aren’t Just for Show, Or, What It Takes to Be a Disciple

Matt. 10: 16-24 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking but the spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.

Jesus spent a bunch of time pouring into the lives of his disciples, and not all of his works were purely physical (healing the sick, casting out demons, preaching to the masses). Like a good teacher he prepared them mentally. Again and again in the gospels, we see the word “crowds.” They had to share him, be ready for anything at any time, and be willing to glean from anything he was saying or demonstrating. The words in the above verses are sobering; arrest, betrayal, death but he wasn’t asking them to do anything he wasn’t prepared to do himself, in fact, he went through every single one of these trials;

-brother will betray brother to death (Judas sold Jesus’ life for 30 silver coins) (John 18:2-3)

-handed over to the local synagogues (after his arrest, Jesus was taken to the high priest–John 18:19-24)

-do not worry about what to say or how to say it (Jesus was accused, questioned before Pilate–John 18: 33-40)

-when you are persecuted in one place, flee to another (Jesus was pushed out of his hometown of Nazareth for the truths he came to share that didn’t sit well with everyone else—Luke 4:14-30)

The key, then, to discipleship, was complete and utter surrender: the kind of surrender he talks about here:

Mark 10: 17-23 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good-except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.”

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

I am consumed with that phrase, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” This rich man had to give it up, lay it all down, he knew this would be incredibly difficult and Jesus knew how hard it would be. We have these strongholds, these family ties, these friendships, causes, missions which may be altogether good, but are they the best? Are we willing to lay it ALL down for the sake of the cross?

Luke 9:57-62; 14:25-33 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

He said to another man, “Follow me.”

But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.”

Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Luke 14:25-33

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.”

Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

We have to understand that the disciples were fallible, dense, Jesus even used the word “dull” but we are too. I like to say that I’m socially oblivious. For instance, I was driving with my friend in the car the other day and as we were maneuvering through a couple of lanes of traffic, this lady shouted out of her window, “You’re welcome!” I was baffled, it took me an extra minute and some discussion with my friend to realize I didn’t give the courtesy wave. Oh well. This is just one of many, many examples of my obliviousness. And yet my family still loves me and my friends tolerate me.

All this to say is that it’s going to take us time.

Jesus doesn’t expect perfection from us, just obedience.

He teaches us, he prepares us, he models for us and then he leaves us with this awesome internal voice of the Holy Spirit, but we have to attentive to it and we have to yield to it and do what He is telling us to do.

One more:

John 15: 18-27

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: “No servant is greater than his master.” If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: “They hated me without reason.”

When the Counselor comes whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

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