Summary: This series focuses on becoming a true disciple. Part one focuses on our need to understand the costs involved in becoming a disciple.
Discipleship Part 1: Pupil and Followers
This morning I will start a series I’ve titled “Discipleship.” In our adult bible study class, we have been discussing our simple church process. A large part of our discussions have been on what it means to be a disciple of Christ and that looks at our Church. As many of you have been unable to attend some of these sessions, I’ve decided to discuss discipleship with the Church more broadly in this series of messages. Through this series I hope that we will all begin to understand where we are as a Church body as it relates to developing disciples for Christ. This morning we will focus on a basic definition of disciple and through that definition work our way towards the definition of being a follower of Christ. Let’s begin with how Webster’s dictionary defines disciple.
I. Disciple: Pupil and/or Follower
Webster’s dictionary defines disciple as “a pupil or follower of any teacher.” This definition contains two key words that I want us to examine this morning. The two words are pupil and follower. As I shared in bible study two weeks ago, understanding these two words is crucial to our understanding what it means to be a true disciple. The first word that describes a disciple is pupil.
Pupil: Webster’s dictionary defines pupil as “a person taught under the supervision of a teacher.” Everyone in this room at some point has been a pupil. Some of us were better pupils than others, but still we were in fact pupils under the supervision of a teacher. In this situation, the teacher is the one in charge of imparting knowledge to their pupils. To ensure that we are all on the same page, I want to take us back to the 1st grade. I chose the 1st grade because for me that was the grade where I really began to understand restrictions. (I also remember the 1st grade more so than kindergarten.) The reason I am using elementary school instead of junior high/high school is because in elementary school, especially 1st grade, we are still young enough to respect and trust our teachers. There is an innocence with children that seems to disappear as we get older. If an adult maintained the innocence of a child people would say that something was wrong with that person. If we do not develop a distrust of others; a fear of others; a dislike for others; then in our society something is wrong with us. Many times people have referred to someone with these traits as being extremely naïve and/or slow. But listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 18:3: “And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
A child will often receive direction and follow it without pushing back. Oh they will try and exercise their independence as they get older, but there are some things that a child will believe at face value. If you tell a young child that Jesus loves them, they will believe you. A few weeks ago I read the story of a little girl who went to see the passion play with her parents. The passion play is about the last week of Jesus’ life. When it got to the part where Jesus enters the scene, the little girl began to cry out “there’s Jesus”. She was mesmerized with seeing Him. The people sitting around her smiled at the little girl realizing that she thought the actor was the real Jesus. As the play went on, it came to the part where Jesus was arrested by the soldiers. During the scene where the soldiers were beating Him, the little girl believed it was real and began to cry out. She yelled at the soldiers to stop it. People sitting around her were now watching the little girl closely. With tears in her eyes, she continued to yell at the soldiers to stop it because they were hurting Jesus. At first some of the people thought it was cute, but as the little girl continued to scream, her parents tried to comfort her by telling her it was just a play and that they were not really hurting Jesus. The girl did not believe them and continued to be upset. Realizing what they were witnessing, others around the little girl began to cry themselves. Watching the innocence of this child transported them to the place where they saw what was happening with Jesus with their spirits versus with their minds. When Jesus was buried, the child continued to be upset as she thought the soldiers had killed Jesus. When she saw Jesus come out of the grave, she really began to shout, cry and rejoice. Again, those watching the little girl also cried and rejoiced. When the play was over, the actors were greeting the people as they left. When the little girl saw the soldiers, she cried out “Bad soldiers” because they hurt Jesus. When she saw the actor who played Jesus, she cried out and ran up to him and just grabbed his legs and would not let go. She wanted Jesus to know she loved him. The actor did not realize that this little girl thought he was the real Jesus. This little girl’s response to Jesus in the play is what Jesus was talking about when He said how we should come to Him – as little children. So let’s go back to the 1st grade.