Sunday, June 1, 2014

Series: Discipleship. Christ's invitation

students @ Woolwich Bible College 1963
To be a disciple is to be a student. Therefore to be a disciple of Christ Jesus is to be in His classroom ad learning from His curriculum. From what I can see people were never called to make ‘decisions’ for Christ. They were invited to enter into His ‘classroom’. This would begin a series of student/Master engagements, both theological and practical, in groups and individually, in a set place or out in the ‘market place’.

How Discipleship Begins: John 1:35-39.

Someone who knows about Jesus (eg John the Baptist) points out to someone the person of Jesus. When that person (Andrew) shows interest Jesus (or now His servants) says: “Come and see” (v.39)

One of the key words of Jesus is “come”. Don’t rush into commitment or hasty vows. Check Him out. This use to be the role of such things as Sunday Schools, Youth groups, Gospel services, specific Bible Studies. Our society has by-passed most of these, unfortunately, today.

The early parts of the Gospels have this “come and see” aspect. You see the person of Jesus under all types of circumstances. You hear of His teachings. You watch His debates and marvel at His miracles. He also gives you areas of responsibility, Matt. 10. Matt.14:13 etc.

How Discipleship is Sifted: John 6: 22-71. Matthew 16:24-26.

It’s great and exciting in the early days and months of being a disciple. See and hear all types of things. Suddenly, you hit the proverbial ‘brick–wall’. It takes at least two forms.
1. Jesus lays out some tough sayings. Some cannot handle them or misunderstand the implications and metaphors. They drop out of class.
2. Then to those who remain comes even harder words: Deny self: Take up your cross: Follow.

In a sense this is the penultimate part of Discipleship. It is also a requirement which is never lifted. It says you are prepared to put to death all your personal ambitions, dreams, lusts and likes to obey Jesus. It says when you have a choice of serving self or obeying Jesus you deny yourself.

The ultimate test is when it seems as though the One you call Lord is beaten in battle and crucified literally or verbally. It’s as though all the teaching has been a fraud and He is either a liar or sad lunatic. Graduation from being a disciple into a follower/soldier etc arrives when the wonder, the reality, the awesome triumph of Jesus and His Word over the tomb and human philosophy grips your heart.

How Discipleship is Celebrated: John 21:12.

The Greek is “Come and breakfast (or dine)”. I find it interesting that after Acts the term ‘Disciple’ isn’t used. Actually we would be better called ‘sent ones’ (apostles) Matt. 28:19-20 as well as other descriptive terms such as ‘co-labourer, fellow-soldier, elder, evangelist, and collectively ‘saints.’

Was this a ‘graduation’ dinner? Those in the upper room and others were convinced about who Jesus is and why He had come. The profound statement by Thomas in John 20:28 sums Jesus up. “My Lord and my God!”

In this passage just before the ascension of the Lord (Acts 1) Jesus comes for a breakfast with His ‘ graduates’. One or two matters needing addressing but now they were to be commissioned. What did that involve? Matthew 28:19-20 ‘Go into all the world and make disciples…’ They were now the ‘sent ones’. That also spills over onto us.

From “come and see” these men and women of Jesus were now invited to “come and dine”. It reminds me of our personal calling. The Lord invites us to ‘come and dine’ regularly with Him around Communion/Eucharist. After sharing in that precious time we are sent into ‘our world’ as Christ’s witnesses. One day, when all the ‘sending out’ has been completed we will dine with our Lord at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-10).

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