|LESSON 10||*May 30 - June 5|
Read for This Week's Study:
Exod. 18:13-27, Matt. 4:19, 9:9, Mark 3:13-19, 8:31-38, Rom. 8:18
" 'This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples' " (John 15:8, NIV).
|It is important that we use our
intellectual capacities to grasp as much as is humanly possible of what God
has revealed to us. Yet, perfect knowledge of all doctrine is not a prerequisite
for salvation. We are, though, commanded to do all the things that we have
been instructed to do. To be a disciple is to be a lifelong learner and follower
of the Master.
What is a disciple? The SDA Bible Dictionary defines it, basically, as "one who, as a student or adherent, follows the teaching of another, especially of a public teacher. In the NT 'disciple' is the translation of the Gr. math't's . . . which is related to manthanÇ, 'to learn,' hence means 'a learner,' 'a pupil,' 'an adherent' "--Page 288. Let's look a little closer at what it means to be a disciple.
The Week at a Glance:
A disciple is a lifelong learner. When Christ calls us, we are to follow, wherever He leads and no matter the suffering involved, for it will involve suffering if for no other reason than it must involve sacrifice. In human terms the rewards for discipleship seem rather meager. But when the true dimension of life in Christ is discovered, we realize it's worth suffering for, no matter the cost here now.
*Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, June 6.
Followers and Leaders
Read Exodus 18:13-27. What principles of leadership can be found in these verses? What can we learn from them about leaders and followers?
Although all people are fundamentally equal in the eyes of God, there are major differences in the manner in which they function. Some have the gift of leadership. Our society, and every organization within society, would soon collapse if there were no leaders. Even in heaven there appears to be a distinct differentiation in roles: There are, for instance, angels and archangels! When God called His people out of Egypt, He appointed leaders. When He organized a sanctuary service, He made sure there would be adequate leadership. God worked through judges, prophets, kings, etc.
But leaders are useless without followers who are willing to accept their leadership. In particular, they need a group of close associates who are willing to learn from their leader and to assist in the realization of the goals of their leader.
Jesus called 12 disciples. Read Mark 3:13-19 for a condensed version of His selection of 12 men. What other examples of teachers who surrounded themselves with disciples do we find in a Gospel story? See Mark 2:18.
There was nothing extraordinary in the fact that Jesus had a group of disciples. It was customary for teachers to have a following of "interns." What was remarkable, however, were the kind of men Jesus chose. Jesus saw a potential in these men that most of us would not have discerned! What also is remarkable was their instant willingness to leave their daily business and follow this carpenter from Nazareth. They apparently saw something extraordinary in this man that even most of His own relatives had not discovered yet.
It should, however, be noted that although the Twelve are a very special group, there are many others referred to in the Gospels as "disciples," as well.
|There tends to be in some societies an antileadership attitude; in contrast, in some societies people all but blindly follow their leaders. What's the tendency in your society, and how do you strike a proper balance?|
Marks of Discipleship: Obedience and Loyalty
Jesus did not just share knowledge with His disciples, although it must have been a tremendous privilege to constantly hear Jesus explain the Scriptures and answer the numerous questions with which the spiritual leaders of His days bombarded Him. They quickly noticed what others also perceived. He taught with an authority that surpassed the scholars of His days. He separated lifeless traditions from the real-life issues that God's Word addresses. However, there was more the disciples needed to learn. They also needed to learn to make their own will and desires subject to the will of the Almighty.
What principles of discipleship can we find in the following texts? Matt. 4:19, 9:9, Mark 8:34.
"Yes, follow Him through evil as well as through good report. Follow Him in befriending the most needy and friendless. Follow Him in being forgetful of self, abundant in acts of self-denial and self-sacrifice to do others good; when reviled, reviling not again; manifesting love and compassion for the fallen race. He counted not His life dear, but gave it up for us all. Follow Him from the lowly manger to the cross. He was our example."--Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 178.
How did Peter react when many followers deserted Jesus? John 6:60-70.
Not all disciples stayed with Jesus. Many turned away. Peter spoke for the disciples when declaring their allegiance. With the exception of Judas, they eventually did prove to be faithful followers, and they became leaders in the early church, even though they had moments of grave doubt and disillusionment when their Master was taken prisoner and executed. Their experience gives us great comfort. Many of us have had moments when our resolve to be disciples was at low tide, but as in the case of the apostles, this does not mean that we cannot overcome our temporary lapse.
|If someone were to ask you, "How loyal are you to Jesus?" how would you respond, and why? What outward evidences do you give of your loyalty to Him?|
Most of us like to be with important people. Meeting a head of state or a government minister or a celebrity provides us with a much-coveted conversation topic. Knowing someone important, or even knowing someone who knows someone important, somehow seems to endow us with a halo of glory. It seems a natural desire to climb up the social ladder rather than remain near its base. Jesus' disciples were no exception to this unfortunate human trait.
How did some disciples (and their relatives) hope that following Jesus would enhance their status? What was Jesus' reply? Matt. 20:20-23, Mark 10:35-41. What does this attitude remind you of? Isa. 14:12-14.
Rather than promising His disciples material prosperity and social status, Jesus prepared them for a different kind of reality: Following Him is a costly business.
Read Mark 8:31-38. What do you learn in this passage about the cost of discipleship?
|What is the cross that God has given you to bear? What has following Christ cost you? If your answer is "Nothing, really," maybe you need to take a closer look at how closely you are following the Master.|
The Rewards of Discipleship
Jesus left His disciples with no doubt that following Him would require sacrifice. He was totally up front with them in regard to what they should expect.
What did Jesus promise as far as immediate or short-term reward for following Him as a disciple? Luke 9:57, 58; John 15:18-25. What specific "promise" did Jesus have for Peter? John 21:15-18. What does this tell us about the cost of following Christ?
The disciples, except Judas, eventually became the apostles. From the first chapters of the book of Acts, it is clear that these men had learned many lessons. They had been with Jesus and now, with the power of the Spirit, they were able to deal with opposition and persecution. Although we cannot totally be sure about the details, there is good reason to believe the strong traditions from the early church era which say that all apostles eventually suffered martyrdom. All supposedly suffered a violent death, except John, but his imprisonment on Patmos was not a luxurious vacation either. He also was a "brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in in Jesus" (Rev. 1:9, NIV).
What aspect of discipleship outweighs all suffering that might come our way as we follow Christ? John 10:10, Rom. 8:28-39.
Those who follow Christ will face numerous challenges. If they stay focused on their Master, they will be able to deal with whatever happens. They will have something that is precious beyond words. He gives them His peace, which is unlike the imperfect and transient kind of peace the world offers (John 14:27). It is the peace that transcends all understanding (Phil. 4:7). That peace is the hallmark of the abundant life that Christ gives to His disciples (John 10:10). In spite of all trials and temptations, this is the kind of life that satisfies at a level beyond the reach of those who choose to live without Christ.
And yet, even more so, faithful followers of Christ have the assurance of eternal life, the assurance that whatever they struggle with now can't be compared with the promise of eternity that awaits them.
|Read Romans 8:18. What hope and comfort can you draw from this promise for yourself? Why should it tell you to never, never give up?|
The Lordship of Jesus Christ
Being a disciple implies the recognition of having a master, of allegiance to someone we are willing to follow and serve. Our relationship to others usually finds expression in the manner in which we address them.
What was one of the titles given to Christ by His followers? John 20:28, 1 Cor. 16:22.
The New Testament uses a variety of names for Jesus. He is called the Son of God but also the Son of Man or the Messiah. Hundreds of times Jesus is referred to as the Lord. This word, which initially was quite general in its application, became a highly significant term for the early Christians. The Roman emperor claimed divinity and wanted to be addressed as the Lord. To confess that Christ was their ultimate Lord rather than the Roman Caesar was not just expressing an opinion. It literally could be a matter of life and death. Those who lived in the Roman realm should only have one Kyrios (lord), and to apply this title to any person other than the emperor could well end in torture and death.
Thus, it required faith and dedicated discipleship to call Jesus "Lord." But today it also is no small thing to call Jesus our Lord and truly mean it. If He is our Lord, He is the Sovereign over our whole life, over all that we say and do.
What is the key element that reveals how genuine we are in calling Jesus "Lord"? Matt 7:22, 23; Luke 6:46.
It's one thing to call Jesus our Lord and our God and to profess faith, love, and allegiance to Him. It's quite another to truly live it. Jesus was clear: Our fidelity to Him will be manifested by our obedience to Him and to His commands. In fact, the word for "inquity" in Matthew 7:23 means "lawlessness." No question, a true follower of Jesus, a true disciple, will obey His commandments (John 14:15).
Try to imagine how different our church would be if everyone who professed to follow Christ were truly disciples of Jesus. What differences would we see? While you can't change others, what difference could you make were your life one of true conformity to Jesus' will?
|For comments on the calling of the disciples, read Ellen G. White, "We
Have Found the Messiahs," pp. 132-143, in The Desire of Ages.
"It was not enough for the disciples of Jesus to be instructed as to the nature of His kingdom. What they needed was a change of heart that would bring them into harmony with its principles. Calling a little child to Him, Jesus set him in the midst of them; then tenderly folding the little one in His arms He said, 'Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.' The simplicity, the self-forgetfulness, and the confiding love of a little child are the attributes that Heaven values. These are the characteristics of real greatness."--Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 437.
| As a class, go over the question of what it costs
to be a true follower of Christ. Ask those who are willing to discuss it
about what it cost them to follow the Lord. Ask, too, why they believe it
was worth it.
What can we do to help the new believers among us become better disciples of Christ? Why is being a disciple so much more than just intellectually consenting to a number of doctrines, or even more than believing that Jesus died for your sins?
We are called to be disciples of Jesus. But on the human level, we also have role models. Is it legitimate to consider ourselves also disciples of a human leader we respect and consider a role model? If so, how could we do this while at the same
How can we fight the sinful human desire for more self-glory, more adulation, more power and prestige? Why are such desires so contrary to all that it means to be a disciple of Christ?
|To be a disciple of Christ is no small thing. It requires a lot of conviction and stamina and a willingness to follow the Lord, regardless of the suffering involved. To be a disciple of Christ means to live by faith, to trust God even in the hardest of times. It means to be willing to die to self and live for the good of others and for the glory of God.|
|I N S I D E Story|
|The Stranger on the Bus
by BENJAMIN D. SCHOUN
One family in the country of Azerbaijan is convinced that the stranger they encountered on a bus was no ordinary passenger.
Gunel's family was mourning the loss of her grandfather. One day Gunel's mother boarded a bus to visit her grandfather's grave. As she sat crying quietly, a woman sat down beside her. She comforted Gunel's mother by telling her that God is good, that Jesus will come again, and that there is hope for the future. The woman told her about a church she could visit to learn more about these things. Gunel's mother thanked the woman for her kind words.
A month later, Gunel's mother saw the woman on the bus again. The woman again encouraged her and gave her the address of the church. Gunel's mother was so moved by the experiences that she asked Gunel to go with her to visit the church on Saturday morning to see what it was like. The two women stood near the church, hesitant to go inside, for they had never been to a Christian church. A church greeter standing saw the two women and crossed the street to invite them in. Inside they were welcomed warmly with hugs and kisses.
After the service, Gunel's mother asked members about the woman she had met on the bus. She described her in detail, but no one recognized the woman from the description. The pastor, who knew all of the Adventists in the city, listened to the description and finally concluded that no such person attended the church. "I think you've met an angel," he told Gunel and her mother.
Gunel's mother continued attending the Adventist church. She studied the Bible diligently and was baptized. Later, Gunel and her brother and sister also were baptized. Now they hold a small group meeting in their home. Many of their friends abandoned them when they left their traditional religion, but they are firm in their faith. Gunel is studying to help Adventist World Radio produce radio programs in the Azeri language.
The family has never seen the woman on the bus again.
Your mission offerings support outreach to Azerbaijan and all of Central Asia through Adventist World Radio and personal evangelism. Thank you.
GUNEL (left). Benjamin D. Schoun is president of Adventist World Radio.
|Produced by the General Conference Office
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