Summary: This message focuses on the three steps Jesus took to develop His disciples.
Discipleship Part 2: Jesus’ Process
Last week in part one of this series I gave you Webster’s definition of disciple which included the two key words pupil and follower. As a pupil, we are under the direct supervision of a teacher. I used the example of our experiences in the first grade. As a follower, we move from being a pupil where we must learn certain things without having a choice to being in a position where we can choose what teachings we will learn and follow. As a pupil we may have chosen at times to do enough just to get by; but as a follower, we are attentive to the teachings of the one we are following to ensure that we get it right. To be a follower (of someone, even if it is your own ideas) is a conscience choice that every person will make.
Last week I shared with you from the fourteenth chapter of the gospel of Luke that Jesus told us that we need to count the cost of being His disciple. Not everyone who desires to be a disciple is willing to pay the price necessary to accomplish the job. As I shared with you last week, this is the reason there are many who believe in Christ and are pupils; but few who are actually followers, meaning that they are following His teaching despite what the world tells them.
This morning in part two of this series, we will examine the process that Jesus implemented in developing His disciples. Jesus’ process is a training method that is still used today and consists of three steps: teach; demonstrate; release. Turn with me to Matthew chapter five.
I. Step 1: Teaching
In Matthew chapter five, Jesus had already called several of His disciples. After He began His ministry, He first called two brothers named Peter and Andrew. Next He came upon two other brothers named James and John. With these four men now following Him, the first thing He did to prepare them was to teach them. Jesus taught them publicly and in private. Jesus first sermon was given on a mountain and is called “The Sermon on the Mount.” In this sermon Jesus began to teach His disciples how to live. There are three primary areas that Jesus focused on: beatitudes (declarations of blessedness); ethical admonitions; and the contrast between His ethical teachings and the Jewish legalistic traditions.
In the beatitudes Jesus discusses what it means to blessed, or happy. If you recall, happiness in most of our minds is an emotion often dependent on an outward circumstance. In His first message to His disciples, Jesus began to let them know of the ultimate well-being and distinctive spiritual joy of those who share in the salvation of the kingdom of God. This would represent a change from what they were accustomed to as men who were considered to be in the lower class of society. As Jesus transitions His message, He instructs them about their role in the earth; their personal relationships; giving to the poor; prayer; fasting; true treasures/wealth; worrying; judging other; sacrifices (personal); false prophets and finally the two foundations. If you follow this one sermon to its conclusion, Jesus methodically walked them through how their lives would be changed if they became followers of Him. (Remember, a true follower chooses to follow the teachings of their teacher even when those teachings go against the norms of society. This is what makes being a follower of Christ difficult – it goes against the norm.) In this message Jesus gave them an overview of lessons that He would go into deeper during the next three years that they would be together. Let’s take a moment and focus in on the conclusion of His first teaching to His disciples.
Matthew 7:24-27 says the following: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall.”
In these verses, Jesus uses the example of two different individual building a house. Now keep in mine that here He is talking about building on a foundation that will sustain you in the midst of a storm. These two individuals had a couple of things in common. First they both had the finances necessary to build their house and they both had the same opportunity to choose its foundation. When they chose to build their homes, one built his house on a solid foundation – a rock. The second, for whatever reason built his house upon the sand. The second thing that these two individuals had in common was the storm they faced. Each person went through a storm; but because of the foundation of which their houses were built, the outcome was vastly different. The first man’s house which was built on the rock withstood the storm; however, the second man’s house which was built on sand was destroyed. They experienced the same storm, but the outcome was different because of the foundation. If the foundation is solid, what is built upon it will be solid. If the foundation is weak, what is built upon it will be weak.