The Key to Discipleship

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”    -Matthew 9:9-13

I’ve been sitting with this passage for the past few days and it’s had such an impact on me. Even though I’ve probably heard the principle beneath the surface several times before, this passage has taught me the key to discipleship. It’s a principle that could almost certainly be found other places in the Scriptures, especially anytime Jesus calls someone to follow him. Let’s take a closer look.

Up to this point, Matthew has been a tax collector. At the time of Jesus, tax collectors are known to be among the worst kind of people. They make their living by taxing people more than they ought. They either steal money from the poor or they make people poor. It’s gross. Anyways, that’s not the main point.

Jesus came to Matthew in his sinfulness and called him to be his disciple. Matthew got up and followed him. He left his entire livelihood behind at the sound of Jesus’ voice, the voice which can penetrate even the hardest of hearts. Powerful! What happened next is the main point I’m trying to get at. What did Matthew do when he began to follow Jesus? He ate with him and reclined with him. In other words, Matthew first rested with Jesus before doing anything else.

In our relationship with Jesus, we so easily get caught in the trap of thinking, “How can I serve you, Jesus? What do you want me to do for you? I’ll do anything if you just tell me to do it. What’s my vocation in life, anyways? What’s the mission you want to give me?” We’re so focused on serving the Lord that we forget discipleship begins with simply learning how to be with the Lord. Too many Christians have bought into the idea that being a disciple of Jesus Christ is all about working for him. If that’s all it’s about, then we’re nothing more than high-level servants of Jesus, but he wants so much more. He wants us to be his friends!

Discipleship begins with simply being, with spending quality time with Jesus. Once I learn my identity as a disciple of Jesus Christ, then I can go out and share in his mission. What is his mission? His mission is making more disciples, which means inviting more people to the table of Jesus! It means showing others how powerful it is to simply rest with Jesus!

The message of this passage is clear: disciples of Jesus Christ need to rest with their master, their friend, before they can do anything for him. Once they have rested, the work isn’t even done for Jesus, but it’s done with Jesus. Resting with Jesus can make a world of difference.

Bring Them to Jesus!

A demoniac who could not speak was brought to Jesus, and when the demon was driven out the mute man spoke. – Matthew 9:32

This one simple verse from the Gospel of Matthew reveals so much! Let’s take a look.

First, the demoniac. This man is possessed by something. We might say he is consumed by something, in this case he is consumed by a demon. Because he is consumed, he is unable to speak, unable to express his true self. He is not whole as people are meant to be. From what we can gather from this short verse it seems it wasn’t even his idea to come to Jesus. He’s so occupied by what is consuming him that he is completely unaware that he can go to Jesus for healing.

This is where the others come into play. Matthew tells us this man was brought to Jesus. Even though he didn’t know the power of Jesus, others did. Those who had already encountered Jesus knew how this man could be relieved of the evil that was consuming his life. How could he be set free? Bring him to Jesus! If we truly consider ourselves as one body in Christ – we are the Body of Christ and He is the Head – then it is essential for the healthier members to care for the sick members. Notice I say healthier and not healthy, for none of us is fully healed from our sinful inclinations. Still, if we truly desire to be fully alive as the Body of Christ, those who are healthier must care for those who are sick, those who are consumed by anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ. We must all become consumed by Jesus.

From this one verse, it’s clear Jesus is only too happy to restore health to the sick members of his Body. Those who were healthy brought he who was sick to the Divine Physician and the Physician restored the sick to perfect health. How can we know? “…the mute man spoke.” While consumed with something other than Jesus, this man was unable to express his true self. After encountering Jesus, he was given the ability to express himself. He was restored!

This scene reveals the duty of all disciples! Our duty as disciples is to bring people to Jesus! If we ever encounter someone who is consumed with anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ, we must bring them to Jesus and ask Him to restore those who are sick. Present them to the Divine Physician and offer countless prayers on their behalf, trusting that Jesus can and will give them the ability to express their true self as a member of the Body of Christ. There is also a second aspect to this. As one Body, we sometimes have to carry the physical and tangible burdens of others so they may be restored. We have to walk with them in a spiritual AND physical way. As members of His Body, Jesus lives in each one of us, which means he wants to heal others through our actions, even as we are healed from our own unhealthy habits.

Pierced to the Heart

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I was pierced to the heart while reading the Gospel of John.  Jesus is telling his disciples that He is going to become like a grain of wheat, which needs to fall to the ground and die so that it can yield great fruit.  He is predicting His suffering and crucifixion along with His glorious Resurrection.  He is ALSO binding us to the same way, and he says “He who loves his life with lose it; he who is an enemy to his own life in this world will keep it, so as to live eternally.

You’ve heard it said that you must die to yourself.  The need to die to ourselves is for the purpose of finding eternal life.

There is a legend that Peter was leaving the city of Rome to save his life.  As he was leaving, He met Jesus on the way and asked Jesus where He was going.  Jesus said that He was going into the city of Rome to be crucified again.  Peter was distressed and said to Jesus that he would go with Him.  As Peter turned to go back into the city, Jesus disappeared.  Peter knew then that Jesus had appeared to him to remind Peter that he must bear witness to Jesus.  Peter must lose his physical life so that he could gain eternal life in Heaven.

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As I read this passage today, I recognize that Jesus is reminding me to stop living for myself, and that I must live for Him, so to gain eternal life.  John 12:25 pierced my heart today.

THE ANSWER (…to almost every question)

Paul gives us the answer for almost every question that could be posed to us in reference to religion.
Why do you go to Church?
What’s the big deal about Christianity?
Why do you bother with religion?
Why not just stay at home on Sunday?
Locate the answer by listening to this week’s message.

 

Blessings from God

Amaziah, priest of Bethel, said to Amos,
“Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah!
There earn your bread by prophesying,
but never again prophesy in Bethel;
for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.”
Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet,
nor have I belonged to a company of prophets;
I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores.
The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me,
Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”

– Amos 7:12-15

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