The Call of Discipleship

The Call of Discipleship

Introduction 

  • Recently watching “Blue Planet II.” Incredible documentary done by BBC. 
    • When you watch this documentary you begin to realize how absolutely massive the ocean is. 
    • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by water; only 5% of the ocean has been explored. 
    • Its incredible to think about what new mysteries await us in the depths, and how those discoveries may very well change the way we look at the world. 
  • Yet, even more incredible, is how important a small insignificant sea would set the background for the ministry of a man who would absolutely altar the way we looked at the world—Jesus and the Sea of Galilee. 
    • Wasn’t much to look at—only 13 miles by 7—simply called “The Lake” by some. 
    • Yet, it plays such an important part within the ministry of Christ—many times being the stage where some of his most incredible acts are performed (Matt. 8:23-26; 14:25-36). 
  • So it shouldn’t catch us by surprise when we see Jesus discovering his initial followers and calling as they work on the shores of the sea. 
  • But this does set up how it is a “call” (2 Thess. 2:13-14). 
  • Yet, when we respond to the call of discipleship, what exactly does that mean? What does it imply?
  • The call of discipleship is a call to: 
  • Singular Loyalty 
    • Notice that the call is to “Follow me”—pattern your life after Jesus, follow him. 
      • While we are called to follow the example of those who are following Christ (1 Cor. 11:1), the call is still to follow Jesus at the expense of everyone else. 
      • Not to follow our families, our favorite preacher/preaching school, or even the congregation where we grew up—but to follow Jesus. 
    • We see an interesting illustration of this concept in John 21:15-22. 
      • Within this interaction we see a few things about following Jesus—the most interesting of which is the implication that following Jesus means caring for a feeding God’s people (particularly leadership). 
      • Interestingly for Peter, it means a most certain and glory filled death. If you follow Jesus it leads to the same place every time: a cross. 
      • After laying out Peter’s death Jesus intentionally says “Follow me.” 
      • Begs the question: If Jesus laid out beforehand what we would have to endure before we became disciples—all the friendships we would lose, all the shame we would endure—would we still respond to the call? 
    • Interestingly, Peter somewhat balks at this and asks about John, “What about this man?” 
      • And Jesus essentially responds, “Peter, the call of discipleship isn’t to follow John, it is to follow me—you follow me.” 
      • So we may look around us and see disciples that have it much easier than us—they are living the American dream and being a disciple—yet the call isn’t to follow them—it is to follow Jesus and whatever path that leads us down. 
    • But this also brings with it the idea of authority; that Jesus has absolute authority within your life as example, as teacher, as king, and as God. 
      • Disciples during Jesus day were men who followed particular rabbis in order to learn their particular interpretation/way of life. 
      • They exclusively followed their rabbi to learn from him. 
      • This then ties into the astonishment that the people have after the sermon on the Mount because he is speaking to them “as one who has authority, and not as the scribes” (Matt. 7:28-29). 
      • This then means that Christianity, in order to continue to follow Jesus within every generation, must follow the pattern of sound words discovered within the Bible—this is what it means to be disciples/church of Christ. 
    • Just as the the creative word of God within Genesis has the power to create new life, following the word of Jesus will create new life as well. 
  • Spiritual Transformation 
    • Notice: “Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.” 
      • If you follow me, I will fashion you into something; following Jesus means a transformation. 
      • This transformation is wholistic: He wasn’t simply changing their place of worship but their profession. 
      • This doesn’t mean that they became “so heavenly minded they were of no earthly good” but that their life would now be infused with divine purpose. 
      • Life was not simply about dragging in dead, stinking fish all day; it was about people: investing in them, loving them, and casting nets into eternity. 
  • As we respond to the gospel we recognize there is an absolute transformation: we follow Jesus and he remakes us. 
    • This occurs within the spiritual regeneration we receive within the new birth (John 3:3-5; Titus 3:5), and continues as we are progressively sanctified into the image of Christ (Rom. 12:1-2). 
    • This transformation is described by Paul as progressive glory (2 Cor. 3:18). 
  • Notice also the partnership between mission and transformation: we are transformed through the mission that God calls us to. 
    • That is, transformation doesn’t occur through sitting in a church building, but by serving others, teaching the lost, helping the needy, pursuing justice and mercy, etc. 
    • So, as Christians we can’t fully be transformed into disciples unless we are willing to share in the mission of God for the world. 
    • Disciple making (i.e. evangelism) makes me more of a disciple. 
  • I think then this is central meaning of the church of Christ: to follow and pattern our lives after Jesus: in conduct and in worship. 
  • But this transformation doesn’t come without a cost, in fact cost is a necessary part of transformation. 
  • Sacrificial Lifestyle 
  • Before they can take up the cross of discipleship, they have to leave the nets on the shore. 
    • They were doing valuable work which had significant meaning to their families: providing food and mending their nets. 
    • This no doubt placed a significant amount of difficulty on their families and them—with the promise of further discomfort (Matt. 8:20). 
    • Yet, it is through their sacrifice that the door of mission and transformation is opened. 
  • The promise of Christianity isn’t to sacrifice pleasure for future agony; it is to sacrifice present comfort for future glory. 
    • The idea is that you must lose yourself in Jesus in order to find yourself in him (Matt. 10:39). 
    • This of course is lost in the present message of the prosperity gospel: that the gospel’s ultimate end is to give you present material blessings. 
    • Yet, this theology will forever stay in the shallows because it refuses to leave the nets behind. 
    • Again: if Jesus outlined everything we had to lose before becoming a disciple, would we respond to the call? 
  • Mission and sacrifice are often the means of transformation for the disciple who follows Jesus. 
    • Central point: these men will never be the same. A casual stroll on the beach turns into one of the most significant moments in human history. 
    • These simply fishermen will change the world, all because they decided to follow a man named Jesus. 

Conclusion 

  • As we consider this call to discipleship that happened on the shores of the sea of Galilee, we must ask this question: what calls are we missing in our daily life? What opportunities to serve our Lord and others are we missing because we are too busy mending the nets? 
  • Let us never forget that the call to discipleship is constant: it begins with our initial hearing of the gospel but continues for the rest of our life. 
  • Jesus calls us daily to hope, trust, and live for him—are you listening?