The Disciple

Bible Book: Matthew  28 : 19
Subject: Disciple of Jesus; Discipleship; Following Jesus
Series: Portraits of the Saints
Introduction

Today we consider another message in our series on Portraits of the Saints. Today we look at The Disciple.

A lady went in a jewelry store to buy a necklace. The clerk raved about the one she was trying on. “O”, she said, “it makes you look ten years younger.” The shopper took off the necklace quickly and said, “I don’t want, then”. The clerk saw that the sale was slipping away and asked, “But if it makes you look younger, why don’t you want it?” The shopper said, “I would like to look ten years younger, but I can’t afford to look ten years older every time someone sees me without.”

We are very concerned with how we look physically, and rightly so. There is nothing wrong with looking our best, especially when we think of what we look like when we look our worst! But far more important is the state of our looks spiritually. How does God see us? A father who was a photographer was out fishing with his little girl when a lightning storm came up. As the lightning flashed the little girl said, “Look, Daddy, they are taking pictures of us in heaven.”

What if God took a picture of us as He sees us, what would it look like? There is really no way for us to tell that, but we can discern how He speaks of those who has redeemed. We can compare the terms He uses to describe us with the lives we live and get an idea of what we look like from Heaven’s perspective.

It is apparent from the NT, and especially from Jesus Himself, that God sees His saints as disciples. Let me remind you that every Christian is a saint. A saint is not someone who has been canonized by the church or someone who lives better than everyone else. Every born again Christian is a saint. God sees every saint as a disciple. The great question is What is a disciple?

The word disciple comes from a Latin word, discipulus, which means pupil. Webster describes a disciple as a convinced adherent of a school or individual. A synonym in dictionaries is the word follower, which means one who is in the service of another. But what does the word mean in the Biblical language used in the very beginning? Actually, it means exactly what he English word means: “A pupil who is a convinced adherent to the teachings of another and who places himself in that persons service.”

The word means much more, however, when we study what Jesus meant when He used it, and He used it several times speaking of believers. Our text comes from the words of Jesus just before His ascension. He tells His disciples to go forth and make disciples from all nations. It is apparent then that Jesus meant for every believer to be a disciple. So, lets try to paint a picture, a portrait of a disciple today. Then, we can look at our lives and determine whether we are a disciple at all, and if we are one just what kind of disciple we are.

We begin by looking at…

I. The Disciples Lord

When Julius Caesar landed on the shores of Britain with his Roman legions, he took a bold and decisive step to ensure that success of his military venture. Ordering his men to halt on the edge of the Cliffs of Dover, he commanded them to look down at the water below. To their amazement, they saw every ship in which they had crossed the channel engulfed in flames. Caesar had deliberately cut off any possibility of retreat! Now that his soldiers were unable to return to the continent, there was nothing left for them to do but to advance and conquer! And that is exactly what they did.

A. Love For the Lord

Look at Luke 14:26 and note these words, “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.” Wow! How about that for a beginning to a portrait of a disciple! Every disciple of Jesus must hate his mother, father, children and siblings? Really! Well, let’s look closely at what this means.

The statement of Jesus in Luke 14:26 is what is known it literature as a hyperbole. What is that? A hyperbole is an exaggeration used to make a point. Let me explain. You will remember that Jesus once said that if a man’s hand offends him he should cut it off. Did Jesus really mean that? Any sane person knows He did not mean for us to cut off our hands. He did not mean that literally. Then why did He say it? It was a form of hyperbole to make a point. Every one of us has had our hand to offend us at some point in life. Yet, we don’t have a church full of one-handed members. Jesus was pointing out that it is impossible for us to live without breaking God’s law. We need a Savior, we need forgiveness, and we need redemption. That is exactly what Jesus came to offer.

Well, when Jesus spoke of hating our relatives in order to be His disciple, He was saying that Jesus must be first among those we love most. He cannot take second place. He is Lord! Discipleship demands that no person, no thing, no desire, no love be above the love we have for Jesus. Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it this way, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die” Bonhoeffer meant that one who comes to Jesus must die to himself in order to live in Christ. Paul said it like this in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Paul did not mean that he had died literally, but that he had died to his old life and had a new life given to Him in Christ.

Jesus meant that we must love Him enough to put Him first. He is Lord and we must believe that way and behave that way. Recall the woman who spent a year's wages on a bottle of perfume and then poured it over our Lord's feet. She gave up all she had -- and felt she had given up nothing.

B. Likeness To the Lord

If we come to Christ and receive Him as our Savior, how are we to live our lives? A disciple was understood to be someone who would become like the person they followed. An adherent to the teaching of a scholar would become like the scholar. The more the adherent or disciple was with the teacher, the more the disciple would be like that person. The same is true of a Christian. Look at what the Bible says about the first disciples, as recorded in Mark 3:14, “He appointed twelve-- designating them apostles-- that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.” To be like Him, they had to be with Him.

As children of God, we should become like our Father. Natural children learn to imitate their human parents. I read the story of one little boy who complained of having a stomach ache. His mother told him not to worry, his stomach was hurting because it was empty and as soon as he got something in it he will feel better. Later that day the pastor of the church came by to visit. When asked how he was doing by the lady of the house he replied, “I’m fine, except my head has been hurting today.” The little boy chimed up, “That’s OK preacher, your head is hurting because it is empty, it will feel better as soon as you get something in it!”

The fact of the matter is we should become like our Savior.

Now we know that the presence of Christ is with each believer in the person of the Holy Spirit. But, for the Holy Spirit to shape us into what He wants us to be, there must be a yielding of ourselves to Him! He is the Potter, we are the clay. In Romans29 we read, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.: But for this to take place requires commitment, patience and time. Look at 2 Corinthians 3:18, we reads, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” It is something that is being done by His Spirit daily – but only as we are yielded up to Him.

C. Learning From the Lord

Look at John 8:31. Here we read, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.’” We are to be ever learning more and more about Him and from Him. We never know it all!

If you want to be a real student of Jesus, if you want to be a T. O. P. notch disciple, then remember the word T. O. P.

T Time, meaning to spend time as a student of the Lord and His Word.

O Openness, meaning to be teachable.

P Persistence, meaning, never think you know it all, but keep on learning.

A senior executive of a large bank in New York City told how he had risen to a place of prominence and influence. At first he served as an office boy. Then one day the president of the company called him aside and said, “I want you to come into my office and work with me each day.” The young man replied, “But what could I do to help you, sir? I don't know anything about finances.” He was told, “Never mind that. You will learn faster what I want to teach you if you just stay by my side and keep your eyes and ears open.” He later said, “That was the most significant experience of my life, being with that wise man made me just like him. I began to do things the way he did, and that accounts for what I am today.” In a far deeper sense, we can be transformed by having a close fellowship with the Lord Jesus. We must be near enough to Him to keep learning from Him!

II. The Disciples Life

The disciple links his life to the Master. What is his life to be like?

A. The Labor in the Disciples Life

One day a rancher in West Texas, all excited about everything he had been learning in his discipleship training class, prayed for someone he could tell about Christ. Soon out of the wide Texas sky a helicopter appeared and landed in his pasture. The pilot announced he was out of fuel. The rancher drove him 30 miles to the nearest gas station. “I had a captive audience,” he later told his friends.

The long of short of living the disciple life is to keep Him before you as Lord, and to learn so they you may live for Him! It is not enough to know, we are to be doers of the Word.

G. Campbell Morgan related this story: “A lady said to me some years ago, 'I'm tired of this worldly life. I'm going to give myself to Christ. I know what it means; I will have to do all the things I most dislike, but I am determined to be a real Christian.' When I returned to her town a year later, she was one of the first to welcome me. 'Do you recall,' she inquired, 'what I said to you when I rededicated my life?' I told her I certainly did. Then she looked at me and the light of God was on her face as she exclaimed, 'But it's been so different, Dr. Morgan! I began to follow Christ feeling that I would have to do all the things that were contrary to my desires, but now I do what I want every day because God has made me pleased with the things that please Him!'”

B. The Loyalty in the Disciples Life

Jesus wanted His disciples with Him in time of trouble – Matthew 26:38. Luke 6:46 reads, “Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say” We must be loyal to Him if we would truly be a disciple.

Corrie ten Boone commented that she had learned to hold things with a loose grip. If she held them too tightly that God would have to pry her fingers apart and it would hurt. Jesus warned us that the when the gospel seed falls among thorns, the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful (Matthew 13:22)

Researchers for the World Almanac and Book of Facts asked 2,000 American eighth-grade students to name prominent people they admired and wanted to be like. Those most frequently mentioned by the teens as their heroes were sports celebrities and movie stars. Commenting on this, columnist Sidney J. Harris lamented the fact that every one of the 30 prominent personalities who were named was either an entertainer or an athlete. He noted that statesmen, authors, painters, musicians, architects, doctors, and astronauts failed to capture the imagination of those students. He further suggested that the heroes and heroines created by our society are people who have made it big, but not necessarily people who have done big things.

C. The Laughter in the Disciples Life

We count it all joy to suffer for the Lord as we follow Him. Strange isn't it? Strange that hardship can bring joy and laughter! Yet, the Lord does that for us and in us. Paul and Silas praised God, sang psalms and prayed after being beaten and placed in the prison at Philippi! Only God can do that in a person's life. Most people are looking for comfort and ease, but God's disciples simply desire to remain close to Jesus. That is where the joy is! That is where the laughter in life is found.

1. Laughter because of what we have Left Behind Us

We left behind a life of sin and self, an empty life!

2. Laughter because of what we have Before Us

We have before us a life so glorious no words can describe it.

3. Laughter because of Who we have With us

We have with us the very presence of Jesus. That does not mean that we will have it easy. On the contrary. "Blessed are you when men slander you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” -- so says Jesus. Disciples can expect to be slandered and hounded.

“If anyone wants to be my follower, let her deny herself, and let her shoulder her own cross” -- so says Jesus. Disciples can expect cross-bearing, and cross-bearing means torment.

“A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will certainly persecute you” -- so says Jesus. What can disciples expect? Wrong question. What are disciples guaranteed? We are guaranteed all of the above: slander, persecution, cross-bearing, ecclesiastical abuse and political victimization. Then why bother becoming a disciple?

In the written gospels we note that those who had not embraced Jesus were amazed at the fun the disciples had. They party a great deal. They laugh. They don't have a face as long as a horse's. Other religious devotees fast, and end up with a face like a prune. The disciples of Jesus celebrate. Bystanders are startled, and ask Jesus why his followers are far happier than one should expect them to be. Jesus replies, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?”

Recall the parable of the pearl: a man comes upon a pearl so beautiful that he sells everything he owns to buy it and still feels it has cost him nothing.

Conclusion

When a photograph is made, the image is immediately transferred to the film, however, one cannot see the full image until a process takes place in a darkroom. Likewise, when we come to Jesus, in a flash, the image of the Savior is transferred into our lives, but it takes a process for the image to become visible. Much of that process takes place in the darkroom of our life’s experiences where the Lord works out the image of His character in us. If we try to avoid the darkroom, we can spoil the image!

How about it, are we disciples in the truest form of the word? Certainly every believer is a disciple, we are either good ones or bad ones. Which are you? We must answer that question one-by-one. Perhaps you are not a disciple at all, because you have never embraced Christ as your Savior. Today is the proper time to do that.