You have had a hard day on the job. It seems as if every time you turn around, something "goes wrong." You spent a lot of your day trouble shooting. You did not accomplish nearly what you intended to accomplish. In fact, as you look back over your difficult day, you wonder to yourself if you did not waste your time and effort. You have nothing "to show for" all your work and effort that day.

You are bringing your work day to a close. You are preparing things to resume your efforts tomorrow. You do the necessary straightening up so you can start fresh tomorrow--you want there to be nothing to remind you of this miserable work day. You think about what has to happen quickly tomorrow. You are intent on completing your preparations for tomorrow. You just want to call it a day and forget about what you now consider a wasted day and wasted effort.

Just as you are almost through with your preparations, a religious teacher walks in and makes a ridiculous request of you. You know his request is just plain stupid. But you have been listening to the man teach, and you want to be polite. So you act out of politeness more than conviction. But you favorably respond to the man's stupid request though it means the day will end on a meaningless, nonproductive note.

Read with me as we look at Luke 5:1-11. See if you can identify with the situation.
Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat. When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." Simon answered and said, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets. When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus' feet, saying, "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men." When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.

  1. If we talked to these men much later in their lives, I have little doubt that they would tell you, "That moment began the biggest and most important adventure of our lives."
    1. If we asked, "Why?" I think we would hear these answers.
      1. "That was the day we began in earnest to be Jesus' disciples."
        1. "Our expectations were all wrong."
        2. "We thought he was a special person sent by God, but we really did not understand just how special this person was."
        3. "What we thought was going to happen and what did happen were not even similar."
      2. "Before it was through, we finally understood we were the disciples of God's own son. To this moment, that sounds incredible!"
    2. If we were to ask, "Why was being Jesus' disciples so special?" I think they would respond in this way.
      1. "It being special had nothing to do with us."
      2. "It being special had everything to do with who he was: God's own son!"
      3. "It was special because God's own son taught us God's objectives and purposes in our lives and in the world."
      4. "It was special because we were interacting with the greatest act of God ever manifested in Israel!"

  2. I am going to share several scriptures with you as I seek to make a single point: people have to learn how to be disciples of Jesus, and that truth is very obvious in the twelve followers of Jesus.
    1. First, I call your attention to a continuing argument among these 12 disciples, an argument addressed in two ways by Jesus (they should be like children, and they should not be like Gentile rulers), but never resolved by the Lord.
      1. The argument: which one of us is the greatest (in the group) -- a decidedly "not disciple like" argument.
      2. Consider these scriptures:
        Mark 9:33,34 They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, "What were you discussing on the way?" But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.
        1. They understood that this discussion/argument would not meet Jesus' approval.
        2. They understood it was not the focus Jesus wanted them to have.
        3. Yet, it continued to be a matter of significant concern among them.

          Luke 9:46 An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest.

        4. Which one of them was the greatest might not have been of concern to Jesus.
        5. But, it is obviously of great concern to them.

          Luke 22:24 And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.

        6. Luke associates this dispute with the last supper.
        7. Jesus will be dead in less than 24 hours, and the twelve are arguing among themselves about their "pecking order" in their rank!
        8. This is not a disciple's attitude or a disciple's issue to be pursued--yet this is the argument of the twelve at the end of Jesus' life!
    2. Second, I call to your attention Peter's attitude after his great confession that Jesus is the Christ.
      Matthew 16:21-23 From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."
      1. First, note Jesus began to discuss his death and resurrection with the twelve disciples after Peter's confession.
      2. Second, note Peter became so bold after his confession that he privately rebuked the Lord: "That will never happen! You must stop talking like that! That is not the things the Christ should be saying!"
      3. Third, note Jesus is now very upset with Peter.
        1. Just as Jesus commended Peter for receiving his revelation from God, he now calls him Satan.
        2. The problem: "You have set your mind on human interest instead of setting your mind on God's interest."
        3. Peter created for Jesus a temptation that was totally unnecessary! What Peter said could get Jesus to thinking about himself instead of about God.
        4. This decidedly is not a disciple's role, focus, or action!
    3. Third, I call your attention to a suggestion made by James and John.
      Luke 9:51-56 When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." And they went on to another village.
      1. Please remember that Samaritans and Jews hated each other.
        1. This hatred was quite old.
        2. Jews regarded Samaritans as the descendants of unfaithful Jews, and Samaritans regarded Jews as being theologically wrong.
      2. Remember that Jesus earlier had meaningful and fruitful interaction with the Samaritans (John 4).
      3. I think it is likely that James and John's superiority Jewish attitude was oozing out.
        1. "Jesus has been very kind to these people."
        2. "How dare they reject his request?"
        3. Notice the Samaritans are offended with Jesus preoccupation with Jerusalem--he was focused on the Jews!
      4. The rather obvious point I call to your attention is this: James and John's desire to send fire on the offending Samaritans was very undisciple like--it is a basic failure to understand what Jesus is all about.
    4. Fourth, I call your attention to a statement Thomas made.
      John 20:24,25 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."
      1. The time was shortly after Jesus' resurrection.
      2. When Jesus first appeared to his disciples as a group the disciple Thomas was not there.
      3. When Thomas returned, excitedly the other disciples told him they had seen the resurrected Jesus.
        1. Thomas replied, "I do not believe it."
        2. "Furthermore I will not believe he is raised from the dead unless I personally can feel the places where the nails were in his hands and the spear opened his side."
      4. Again, I call your attention to the obvious--that is quite an undisciple like statement.
    5. Fifth, I call your attention to a statement made by the eleven disciples (Judas was dead) not long before Jesus' ascension back to God.
      Acts 1:6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?"
      1. What these men expected to happen was not at all what was going to happen.
        1. In some way they expected the kingdom Jesus spoke about in his ministry to be connected with a restoration of the physical nation of Israel.
        2. Basically their question was, "Will it happen now?"
      2. Their question is a clear confession of the fact that they did not understand what was happening.
        1. They did not understand the foundation of Jesus' ministry.
        2. They did not understand the meaning of Jesus' death.
        3. They did not understand the significance of his resurrection (they were glad it happened, but they did not know its significance).
      3. These men followed Jesus throughout his ministry, they were witnesses of the truth of his resurrection, and they received instructions from him after his resurrection.
        1. But they were totally confused about what it all meant!
        2. It would have been impossible for them at that point to explain correctly the meaning of everything they had seen and heard!
      4. Note the obvious: we regard that as very undisciple like understandings and attitudes!

  3. Allow me to call something to your attention in Matthew 28:19,20.
    1. This is the statement the resurrected Jesus made to his eleven disciples (Judas was dead).
      1. As Christians, we attach great significance to these two verses.
      2. We attach so much significance to these two verse that we often define the Christian mission and the work of the church by these two verses.
    2. First allow me to read these two verses from several translations.
      • Matthew 28:19,20 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (NASV)
      • Matthew 28:19,20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (NIV)
      • Matthew 28:19,20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age. (RSV)
      • Matthew 28:19,20 Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations: baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes to the end of time. (Jerusalem Bible)
      • Matthew 28:19,20 Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember! I will be with you always, to the end of the age. (Today's English Version)
      • Matthew 28:19,20 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. (The New King James Version)
      • Matthew 28:19,20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (The King James Version)
    3. I call some things to your attention.
      1. Every major English translation translates those verses with the primary emphasis on making disciples, except the King James translation (even the New King James version makes discipleship the focus).
      2. One of the truths I personally find distressful is the fact that we are baptizing people who have neither desire nor intention of being disciples.
      3. Every person who wishes to be a disciple needs to be baptized and taught the teachings of Jesus, but the objective must be to make disciples, followers of Jesus.

Every man or woman who is serious about making disciples must be committed to being a disciple. Those who followed Jesus as the 12 in his earthly minister declare discipleship is an ongoing pursuit. It is focused on understanding God's purposes in Jesus Christ. Christians find our purpose in life when we understand God's purpose.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 12 September 2004
 Link to related sermon: Making Disciples for Jesus Eager to Serve Others by Chris Benjamin

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