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Discipleship in a Crowd

“Helping People Trust & Follow Jesus”

That was one of our main lessons from last week and it was based on the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20.

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

We summed up the main ideas in this passage and ended up with this easy-to-remember statement about what discipleship is all about: helping people trust and follow Jesus.

And we brought up this whole topic of discipleship, not because this is some crazy, new idea that we should make disciples. I think most of us are well aware that Jesus has commanded us to go and make disciples. That’s one of our main purposes in this life as Christians. To be a disciple of Jesus, and to make disciples of Jesus – or as we’ve defined discipleship here, to help people trust and follow Jesus.

And so we’re not bringing this up because we didn’t know that we’re supposed to make disciples. But rather, we’re bring this up because I think a lot of us don’t know how to make disciples. I think we want to make disciples – we want to help people trust and follow Jesus – but we’re just not sure how.

Obviously being a disciple of Jesus means doing what Jesus did – but we can’t replicate everything that Jesus did. We can’t walk on water, we can’t give sight to the blind or bring people back to life. And even if we leave out the miracles, I’m not sure we’re in a position where we can have 12 grown men following us around everywhere – living life with us. All that stuff seemed to work really well for Jesus as he made disciples, but I don’t think that’s what he expects of us today.

So somehow, we’ve got to learn the principles behind what Jesus did so that we can live out those principles in our current context. We’ve got to find a discipleship model that fits.

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What is Discipleship?

This video was certainly made to make a point – but I like it mostly because it asks a really good question. They frame it in different ways, but really, the bottom line of what they’re asking is “What does it look like to make disciples?”

Does it look like a big building and lots of programs? Does it look like a soup kitchen or a Bible study? Are disciples made in a Sunday morning service or over coffee at Tim Hortons?

And furthermore, how are you and I supposed to be involved in the whole process? What is our own discipleship look like? Is it faithfully attending church every Sunday? Is it signing up for a small group Bible study? Is it going for coffee with a mentor every second Wednesday?

What does it look like to be a disciple? And what does it look like to make disciples?

Because that really is the core of what Jesus has called us to do. I think that’s the main reason why we are still on this planet. We are called both to be disciples and to make disciples.

So exactly what does that look like?

Two Sundays ago, we baptized Allison and Lisa – and they declared in front of all of us by being baptized, that they desire to be a disciple of Jesus. And I know that many of you have made that same declaration – either through public baptism or through just your own personal resolution.

So what do we need to do? What do Lisa and Allison need to do now – to be disciples of Jesus Christ? How does that actually play out in their lives? How does that all play out in our lives?

Well, it’s those questions that are exactly I want to explore in the next few weeks as we look at “Discipleship that Fits”. 

I think most of us would agree that Jesus calls us to make disciples. I think we’ve heard that often enough. But I think we struggle with figuring out exactly how we do that. In fact, I’d argue that many of us struggle just to understand what it really means to be a disciple.

So to help us work through all this, here’s my plan for the next several weeks. First of all, I want to bring some clarity to what it means to be a disciple – that’ll be my main focus for this week. But then, in the weeks to follow, I want to look at some practical ways for us to be discipled and to make disciples within five different contexts of life.

And I’ll explain all that a little later – but my framework for these messages is coming from a book I read some time ago called ‘Discipleship that Fits’ and I’ll be borrowing quite a bit of my content from those pages. Don’t worry – the Bible is still very much the foundation for everything I’m going to say, but this book has just helped me organize my presentation of those Biblical truths. You’re welcome to read the book yourself – it’s a pretty easy read and of course, is very Biblically based.

So in order to clarify exactly, what is a disciple, I think perhaps the best place to start is with the great commission. This is the passage where Jesus’ original disciples are directly commanded to go and make disciples. It’s found in Matthew 28 – starting at verse 18. To give you the context of this passage, Jesus has just risen from the dead, he has appeared to his disciples, and he’s about to return to his Father in Heaven. And so Matthew is about to conclude his whole account of Jesus’ life on earth with these final sentences from Jesus. This is what it says:

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The Rich Fool

I want to begin this morning with a question. And I don’t want you to raise your hand – I’m not going to make you discuss this in small groups or anything. But I just want you to think about it. Here’s the question:

Do you consider yourself to be a success? Are you living a successful life?

And that might be a difficult question to answer depending on how you define “success”.

The dictionary defines success as the accomplishment of an aim or a purpose, so when I ask you “Are you living a successful life?”, I imagine you have some sort of check list in your head that you run through.

Have I done this? Have I accomplished that? And you go through to see if you have accomplished your aims and your purposes.

But I guess before we can answer if we are living a successful life, perhaps the real question is, by which aims or purposes do you measure your success? What sort of things need to be on that checklist?

Because by most North American or western standards – success is measured by how much stuff we have and how nice that stuff is.

We look at the house we live in – the salary we make – the car we drive – the vacations we take – and if we’re about at the same level as our neighbours – (maybe a little above) then we’re a success. Right? Isn’t that how it works?

We might not say that out loud – but isn’t that underlying value system that we live by?

In fact, that’s been the underlying value system of mankind pretty much since the beginning of time. We’ve bought into this idea that gathering nice stuff makes us successful.

But this morning, as we continue to look at the parables of Jesus Christ we’re going to see how Jesus completely turns that value system on its head.

The parable that we are going to look at this morning is found in Luke chapter 12 – and we’re going to start at verse 13. On this particular day, Jesus is teaching a massive crowd – verse 1 tells us that there were thousands of people there – so many that they were stepping on each other. I don’t know how Jesus ever taught out in the public spaces like that with 1000s of people milling about – I have a hard enough time focusing simply being outside with 50 of you. I can’t imagine the distractions that would come with 1000s of people. And actually, this whole parable begins with one of those distractions. Jesus has just been talking about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, and how we show fear God not man – and how much God values us and how He will take care of us, when we read in verse 13….

13 Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.” Luke 12:13

Now this really seems like an out of the blue comment – it doesn’t really seem to fit with what Jesus has been talking about at all.  But this guy just shouts out this request to Jesus. And the Bible doesn’t give us any details on his situation – whether there was some unfair dealings going on – whether the brother was in the right or in the wrong. And I guess it doesn’t really matter.

But Jesus recognized that the motive behind his request was based on that value system that we’ve being talking about – where success is measured by our stuff. And so Jesus replies to the man in verse 14.

Table of contents for Parables of Jesus Christ

  1. The Story of the Seeds
  2. Profitable
  3. Why I Can’t Be a Good Samaritan
  4. The Rich Fool
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Who here had $100 in 1997? Anybody? I think I probably did. That was the year that I turned 18, so I’m pretty sure I could have scraped together a hundred bucks. I think most of you guys would be right around that age as well, so a little older – some a little younger. But probably most of us could have scrapped together $100. And I was just wondering, if we had made some different financial choices back then, how different things would be for us today? So I did some figuring this week, and I found out that if you had taken $100 in 1997 and just deposited it in the bank – the interest rates were about a 5% back then – so today, with the compound interest, that $100 would be worth $270. To be honest, that’s not really that great. I think I’d rather just have spent that money 20 years ago.

But then I thought, well, then instead of putting that money in the bank in 1997 – what if we had instead invested it in gold – Well, had we bought gold with that same $100 in 1997, today that gold would be worth $447. That’s a little bit better isn’t it? That’s nearly twice as much as you would have made from the bank. That would have been a much better investment.

Now back when I was 18, I never would have even thought about investing in gold – but I might have invested in the stock market. So let’s say instead that we invested in a good stable company like Walmart. That same $100 invested in 1997 in Walmart would now be worth some $1,381.00. Now that’s starting to be a pretty good investment! That’s three times as much as gold, and 5 times as much as the bank – 13 times as much as our original investment. If only we had know this back in 1997.

But you know, back in 1997, the dot com craze was just starting. People were investing in tech companies like crazy. What if we had been a little more risky and invested in one of those tech company? What if we had invested in Microsoft? I think that would have been a good idea, because that $100 invested in 1997 in the Microsoft Corporation, would now be worth… over $5,500. That’s just from a little $100 dollar investment. Isn’t that incredible? Just by investing $100 in 1997 – you could have over $5000 today. That’s a good return! If only we had been wise enough to invest in Microsoft 20 years ago.

But let me give you just one more scenario. Back in 1997, there was another struggling tech company – that year this company lost about 1 billion dollars. That’s a pretty huge loss! But they hired a new CEO that year named Steve Jobs and things turned around for them. So had we invested just $100 in the Apple company in 1997, today that $100 would be worth $734,906.67 – nearly 3/4 of a million dollars! Imagine if you had only had the foresight in 1997 to invest $100 in the Apple company! You could retire and live pretty luxuriously on that $100 investment.

Isn’t it incredible how a simple little investment can grow into something amazing! Well, that’s just exactly what Jesus is talking about in a parable that we’re going to look this morning.

For those of you who missed last week, we’ve just begun a new series on the parables of Jesus Christ. 

And just in case you don’t know what a parable is, last week we defined a parable as a parallel. It’s a short story about something very common and very familiar that illustrates a unfamiliar spiritual truth. The story and the spiritual truth would run parallel to each other – you can compare the two to help you understand the spiritual truth.

Jesus actually starts off many parables by saying something like “The Kingdom of heaven is like…. THIS” and then he goes on tell the parable – which illustrates the spiritual truth that He’s trying to explain.

And that’s just what we see in the parable that we’re going to look at today.

Table of contents for Parables of Jesus Christ

  1. The Story of the Seeds
  2. Profitable
  3. Why I Can’t Be a Good Samaritan
  4. The Rich Fool
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