Today we are going to be looking at Matthew 4:17-22 and speaking on the subject of what it means to become a true disciple
DiscipleshipIn this passage, we find some of the basic aspects of discipleship. A disciple is a follower who has learned to believe in the truth of the teaching of another. Therefore, in discipleship, we should expect to find a similarity in teaching between the teacher and the student and see a similarity in their lives. I want to look at four things pertaining to discipleship:
1. The Teaching of Discipleship
2. The Following of Discipleship
3. The Levels of Discipleship
4. The Benefits of Discipleship
1. The Teaching of Discipleship (Matthew 4:17)Although Jesus wasn’t literally a disciple of John the Baptist, he did let John baptize him before entering the ministry. Consequently, you would expect the gospel that Jesus preached to be the same as John preached. And that’s true. Jesus preached, "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." That was also John the Baptist’s message as well as we see in Matthew 3:2.
This identical preaching marks one of the basic principles of discipleship. The disciple is going to follow the teaching of the fellow that trained him. Other examples include that Paul only taught what Jesus had taught him (Gal. 1:11-12) and Paul in turn taught Timothy what he had learned from Jesus. He said to Timothy in 1 Tim 1:2-3 “Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,” And that doctrine came right out of the scripture, which we have today (2 Tim 3:14-17). Paul told Timothy, in 2 Tim 2:2, "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also."
Therefore, to this day, we still follow the Pauline epistles, and we preach and teach the things that Paul taught his disciples. We haven’t had to come up with new doctrines in order to be effective disciples of Jesus Christ. Trust me, there are no new doctrines and if you hear one, run (Acts 2:42-43)!
2. The Following of DiscipleshipWhen Jesus found Peter and Andrew and James and John, they were mending nets. Matthew 4:19 “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” He wanted to make them fishers of men. But for that to happen, they had to follow him. There is a story of a young woman who wanted to go to college, but her heart sank when she read the question on the application blank that asked, "Are you a leader?" Being both honest and conscientious, she wrote, "No," and returned the application, expecting the worst. To her surprise, she received this letter from the college: "Dear Applicant: A study of the application forms reveals that this year our college will have 1,452 new leaders. We are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one follower." If you want to be a disciple, you must learn to be a follower first.
3. The Levels of Discipleship
If you look closely, you can see in the Bible a a progression in the lives of these disciples (primarily Peter, James, and John) that sets up a pattern for us. We see them bringing souls to Jesus in John 1:40-42. We see them forsaking something and following Jesus in Matthew 4:18-22. We see them forsaking ALL and following Jesus in Luke 5:2-11.
4. The Benefits of Discipleship
G.C. Morgan once wrote concerning Peter, James, and John: "There can be no doubt that these men, Peter, James, and John, were the most remarkable in the apostolate. Peter loved Him; John He loved; and James was the first to seal his testimony with his own blood. Even in their blunders they proved their strength. They were the men of enterprise; men who wanted thrones and places of power...mistaken ideas, all of them… and yet they all three had the proving capacity for holding the keys and occupying the throne. What men from among that first group reign today as these men?”
The First Benefit
The first benefit of discipleship is being a part of something special. On four special occasions, Jesus admitted them and them alone, to unheard of experiences. 1. They witnessed God’s power at the Raising of Jairus’ Daughter (Mark 5:35-42). 2. They witnessed the glory of God on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-9). 3. They received the teaching of God’s Word on the Mount of Olives when Jesus gave the Olivet Discourse (Mark 13:3-8). 4. They enjoyed fellowship with Jesus and got a glimpse of the suffering that He was about to go through for their salvation in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark. 14:33-36). 5. They each had to opportunity to contribute to the writing of the New Testament. In the end, the disciple who forsakes all will be rewarded in not only this life, but the next (Matthew 19:27-30).
The second benefit of being a disciple is entering into the Lord’s suffering. The closer a disciple follows, the more his life will conform to that of his teacher in life and death. James was killed by Herod (Acts 12:1-2). Peter glorified God by being crucified upside down (Jn 21:19). John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos after being boiled in oil (Rev 1:9). 1 Peter 2:19-21 “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:”
Someone once observed: "I went into church and sat on the velvet pew. I watched as the sun came shining through the stained glass windows. The minister dressed in a velvet robe opened the golden gilded Bible, marked it with a silk bookmark and said, "If any man will be my disciple, said Jesus, let him deny himself, take up his cross, sell what he has, give it to the poor, and follow me." And yet Paul said in Philippians 3:10-11 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” Something tells me that the vast majority of the church hasn’t figured this aspect of discipleship out yet!