What did Jesus call/name/reference a person who comes to him? My Disciple. Jesus laid out 5 incredible requirements for those who desire to follow him. Jesus said it cost to be a disciple and we must consider the cost. What are some of the costs? The scriptures promise persecution. If you do not face persecution, you should probably check to see if you are actually following Jesus. What are some of the persecutions you might face?
By Pastor Delbert Young
Scriptures: Acts 11:26; Luke 14:25-33; Mark 1:40-42; Matthew 9:10; Matthew 9:11-13; Matthew 15:12-14; Matthew 12:9
(VIDEO) When you think of the word “Christian,” what do you think? What comes to your mind? Let me help you a little to communicate what I am after. When you hear the word “dog,” what do you think? Do you think of this (cute puppy) or maybe something more ferocious like this (mean dog)? When you hear the word “cat,” what do you think? Do you think this (kitten) or this (roaring lion)? So, when you think “Christian,” what do you think? What comes to your mind? Do you think this (republican – President Bush), or this (democrat – Nancy Pelosi), or this (mother Teresa), or this (mission field), or this (Christian Collation), or this (“God hates fag”), or this (Swaggart), or this (Osteen), or this (me preaching)? Do you think of hypocrites, or someone who serves God? Watch this interview by Craig Groeschel, the Senior Pastor of Life Church.tv.
The truth is that the thought of a “Christian” is not the same today as it was even a few years ago. In the 1950’s, the thought of a Christian was very positive in our country. It was a positive thought in the 70’s, but something happened. Now, today, in the first decade of 2000, the thought of a “Christian” is not very good. In fact, there is resistance in many areas to Christianity. The thought of a “Christian” is often that of a hypocrite, or a political activist against everything. The first thought of most people about a Christian is not a person who patterns his or her life after Christ. Would you agree with me about that? People think, “Christians are those people who are against everything.” Do you know what “Christians” are against most of all? -Other Christians, other denominations and other churches- Christians are against each other more than anything else.
Did you know that Jesus never invited anybody to be a Christian? Let’s talk about what Jesus did require we be in today’s talk.
Actually, the term “Christian” came about years after the ascension.
Acts 11:26 …And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
It was a term given by heathens, not by Jesus. So, Jesus didn’t call us to be Christians. What did he call us to be? We are about to read a passage – a very intense passage. It is going to challenge you as it has me, but we will understand more exact what Jesus expects of us.
Luke 14:25-33 If you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, more than your own life. Otherwise, you cannot beMY DISCIPLE. And you cannot be MY DISCIPLE if you do not carry your own cross and follow me. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and then checking to see if there is enough money to pay the bills? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of funds. And then how everyone would laugh at you! They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and ran out of money before it was finished!’ Or what king would ever dream of going to war without first sitting down with his counselors and discussing whether his army of ten thousand is strong enough to defeat the twenty thousand soldiers who are marching against him? If he is not able, then while the enemy is still far away, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace. So no one can become MY DISCIPLE without giving up everything for me.
What did Jesus call/name/reference a person who comes to him? “My Disciple.” Jesus laid out 5 incredible requirements for those who desire to follow him.
(1) Jesus said if you want to follow him, you must love him above anyone – above father, above mother, above wife, above children, brothers, sisters. How do you personally stack up to that requirement?
(2) Jesus said a person following him must love him more than his or her own life. How are you on that requirement? Is the life of following Christ more important than your own life?
(3) Jesus said a person following him must carry his or her own cross – a purpose for which to die. How do you stack up against that requirement? For what purpose would you die?
(4) Jesus said not to even begin attempting to build a life of following him until you count the cost. If you know you cannot win the battle associated with following, do not even get in the fight. How are you on that requirement?
(5) Jesus said a person following him must give up everything. How are you on that requirement?
He said if a person could not do these 5 requirements, he or she could not BECOME MY DISCIPLE.
Now, you tell me what a Christian should be, not what one is in today’s society. Are you one? Is anybody one? 85% of Americans call themselves “Christians.” So, when I look at those requirements, I see a huge difference in being a Christian and a Christ follower. Being a Christian is more of a “cultural religion.” We have the American watered down version of Christianity and there is not much difference in the lives of the 85% and the other 15%. In fact, the other 15% are actually more likely to give to the needy than the 85%. They are less likely to talk about each other than Christians are.
Jesus said it cost to be my disciple and we must consider the cost. What are some of the costs? The scriptures promise persecution. If you do not face persecution, you should probably check to see if you are actually following Jesus. What are some of the persecutions you might face? You may face persecution at work because you will not do what others do or say what others say. You might not get a promotion because you might not “fit in” with leaders since you are a fanatical Christ follower. It will cost you relationships. Some of your friends might not want you around – party pooper. Some family members may not understand. It may cost you some popularity because you will not look like, act like, or be like the rest of the world. Jesus said you are not of this world. You are of another world, the Kingdom of God. In some parts of this world today, if you claim the name of Jesus, it could cost you your life. Jesus said to count the cost.
“Christian,” in the American sense, is “Hey, we’re good people. We go to church… sometimes.”However, the word disciple comes from the Greek word, mathetes (Strong’s #3101) and means a learner imitator, i.e. pupil. A disciple of Jesus Christ means you are a learner, imitator, or a pupil of Jesus Christ, not only a church “goer.” It means you learn what he did so you can do what he did. So, let’s overview 3 major things that Jesus did and a disciple should do.
- A DISCIPLE WILL TOUCH LEPERS. What I mean by that is Jesus touched those others would not touch and loved those others would not love. In the Bible, a person with leprosy was about as untouchable as it got.
Mark 1:40-42 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with COMPASSION, JESUS REACHED OUT HIS HAND AND TOUCHED THE MAN. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.
(Here are some pictures.) Leprosy is a disgusting disease. The disease attacks the nerves and causes loss of feeling, eventual paralysis, and decay. It does the same to the nose. The disease was so detested, people with it were forced to live outside the city in leper colonies. Others ran when a leper came close, but Jesus reached out his hand and touched the leper.
It said that Jesus was filled with compassion. We have talked about this Greek word translatedcompasson before. It is splagchnizomai (Strong’s #4697) and means to have the bowels yearn, i.e. (fig.) feel sympathy, to pity. We all know the feeling of the bowels yearning. It aches and cramps. It moves you to action. It demands attention. You cannot ignore it. Jesus could not ignore the man. A disciple does what Jesus did – has compassion that causes him or her to do something and TOUCH THE LEPER – who others would not touch.
How many times have I seen someone needing help and said something like, “That is sad,” but never reach out and touch them? How many times have you? How many times have I come into contact with someone who needed help and I had the resources to help, but never reached out and touched the person? How many times have you? A my disciple yearns to help deep in his or her gut.
Who are the lepers in your world? Is it a person with aids no one will touch because “we know how he/she got that.” Is it someone in jail that no one will visit? Is it a homosexual? Is it the forgotten old person no one will go see? Is it a smelly street person? Maybe it is that obnoxious person at work no one will talk with, just talk about. A my disciple of Jesus feels so deeply for the hurting, the outcast, the down trodden, that he or she cannot not help. A MY DISCIPLE TOUCHES LEPERS.
One thing that bothers me is how most “Christians” do not even give alms to the poor. You do know that Jesus said “When you give alms,” not “If you give alms.” Unless you give alms some place else, most of you give nothing in alms. A my disciple finds a way to TOUCH THE LEPER.
- A MY DISCIPLE WILL BEFRIEND PROSTITUTES. Jesus made friends with the really bad sinners.
(TLT) Matthew 9:10 That night Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many other NOTORIOUS SINNERS.
With whom did Jesus hang out? It was not the religious folks. He made friends with the woman at the well who had been around the block several times with many men. There was the woman caught in adultery that the religious people wanted to stone. Remember her? There was Zaccheus the tax collector whom everyone hated. Remember when Jesus ate at Simon the Pharisee’s house and the “sinful woman” came, wept on his feet, and broke her alabaster bottle of perfume and anointed him. All through scriptures, we find Jesus BEFRIENDING NOTORIOUS SINNERS. We forget the primary thing we are here to do – call sinners.
(TLT) Matthew 9:11-13 The Pharisees were indignant. “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” they asked his disciples. When he heard this, Jesus replied, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices.’ For I HAVE COME TO CALL SINNERS, not those who think they are already good enough.”
We forget what kind of person Jesus came to save. Aren’t you glad that he did not forget? Had he, he might have forgotten about you. This is, to me, the biggest thing we do wrong in church. We huddle up, listen to “our” music, talk “our” “churchese” language, and forget about the people we should BEFRIEND.
The Pharisees were indignant. Not only did they not care about those far from God, they were upset because someone did care. Instead of drifting away from that kind of person, as most “Christians” do, disciples should be drawn to them.
Here’s a question for you, Christians. When was the last time you have had a non-believer in your home? Getting a plumber to fix your commode does not count. When is the last time you opened your life and started doing something with someone who was that kind of person? I used to do things like that way more than I do now. Not long ago, I took this guy fishing. We met at Lake Weiss and he wanted me to take him fishing at Nickajack. So, we met up one morning. I stopped to get fuel. I pumped and when he came out of the store, he was carrying his 12 pack, not of cokes – beer. He asked me if it offended me if he drank a beer. I told him no, but not thinking he meant right then – 6 a.m. However, POP went the can. We went fishing. We caught fish and eventually talked about Jesus. He opened up to me and told me about his life. His marriage was falling apart. I was able to help him and before he left, I prayed with him. A disciple cares so much that he or she touches lepers, befriends prostitutes, and while doing these Christ-like things, if you are taking notes, a disciple does number 3. I do this one well.
- A DISCIPLE WILL OFFEND PHARISEES.
Matthew 15:12-14 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize YOU OFFENDED THE PHARISEES by what you just said?” Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be rooted up, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”
Pharisees are the legalistic, overly religious types that forget the main message of why Jesus came. Jesus constantly offended overly religious people by what he said and by what he did. It’s nearly like he would wake up, see what day it was, and if was the Sabbath, he would find Pharisees to offend.
Matthew 12:9-14 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
The Pharisees were ticked off, so they went outside and plotted how they could kill Jesus. Think about the irony of that. You cannot heal on the Sabbath, but you can plot a murder. Welcome to the church world. Welcome to “Christianity.”
Jesus healed a man with a shriveled hand. Was that good or bad? The answer depends on whom you ask. If you ask a disciple, it is over the top, good, praise God! High five! Worship! Awesome, you are changed, you are saved, you are healed, yea God! If you ask a Pharisee, they say not good because the Pharisee is more interested in the letter of the law than the spirit behind it. The Law said you are not to do any work on the Sabbath. The Spirit says get the sheep out of the ditch.
I am convinced that the closer we get to the true heart of Jesus, the more offensive it is to “Christianity.” Disciples offend Pharisees.
“Social religion” will not change a society or your life. Becoming a disciple will. Which are you? Are you a participant in social religion or in becoming a disciple? Let’s pray.
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