HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, January 30, 2022
Youtube link... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_0g1Z1Q4HY
Teaching Series - “Doing Life with Jesus"
Weekly Topic - “Jesus’ Disciples”
Texts – Luke 6:12-16; 9:1-6; 10:1-17; 8:1-3, 26-39; John 16:1-15, 60-71
Our theme for 2022 is “Doing Life with Jesus.” This month we have considered the incarnation—when God became human, Jesus’ childhood and the beginning of his ministry. Today, we are going to take a look at some of the people who chose to ‘do life with Jesus’ when he walked on planet earth—his disciples.
How many disciples did Jesus have? More than twelve! For those who have not been following along with us this week in our focus on Jesus’ disciples, let’s find out what the Scriptures say.
Luke 6:12-16 – “12 One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. 13 At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles. Here are their names:
14 Simon (whom he named Peter),
Andrew (Peter’s brother),
James (son of Alphaeus),
Simon (who was called the zealot),
16 Judas (son of James),
Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).”
The twelve men initially chosen for special assignment from amongst all the disciples were given the designation of ‘apostle.’ Some confusion exists because the twelve are referred to as both apostles and disciples, as they were both, but for that reason we should not assume that they were the only ones. So, what is the difference between a ‘disciple’ and an ‘apostle?’
“In Christianity, ‘disciple’ primarily refers to a dedicated follower of Jesus. This term is found in the New Testament only in the Gospels and Acts. In the ancient world, a disciple is a follower or adherent of a teacher. It is not the same as being a student in the modern sense. A disciple in the ancient biblical world actively imitated both the life and teaching of the master. It was a deliberate apprenticeship which made the fully formed disciple a living copy of the master.” 1
“An ‘apostle,’ in its most literal sense, is an emissary, from Greek ἀπόστολος (apóstolos), literally "one who is sent off", from the verb ἀποστέλλειν (apostéllein), "to send off". The purpose of such sending off is usually to convey a message, and thus "messenger" is a common alternative translation; other common translations include "ambassador" and "envoy". The term derives from the Greek of the New Testament and was used for Jesus's original Twelve Apostles (including Peter, James, and John), as well as a wider group of early Christian figures, including Paul, Barnabas, and Junia. Some other religions use the term for comparable figures in their history. The word in this sense may be used metaphorically in various contexts, but is mostly found used specifically for early associates of the founder of a religion, who were important in spreading his or her teachings.” 2
Notice that in Luke 9, Jesus sends out the twelve, “One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. 2 Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick… So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick” (Luke 9:1-2,6).
Then in Luke 10, he sends out seventy-two disciples, “The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit….16 Then he said to the disciples, “Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting me. And anyone who rejects me is rejecting God, who sent me.” 17 When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name” (Luke 10:1,16-17).
These two groups are essentially sent out to do the same task. As Jesus’ disciples spent time with their teacher and they began to think and act more like him, he would then ‘send them off’ to do the work. We, too, are all to be disciples—students of Jesus—and some of us will be ‘sent off’ to do the work of an apostle—sent to spread the Good News to those who have had no introduction to Jesus at all. In a sense, we are all called to serve as ‘apostles’ within our own spheres of influence, whether next door to our neighbours or to the other side of the world.
Okay, so we know that Jesus had twelve plus seventy-two disciples/apostles. What else do we know about those who followed him?
Women Disciples – Luke 8:1-3 – “Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, 2 along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; 3 Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.”
Jesus had women disciples, and the inclusion of Junia as an apostle in Paul’s letter to the Romans (chapter 16), tells us that there were also women apostles. Attempts have been made through the centuries to dismiss these women, but the reality is that Jesus accepted women as his followers, even entrusting them with messages: the Samaritan woman at the well was instrumental in providing an introduction for Jesus (John 4) and Mary Magdalene received the honour of being the first to see Jesus resurrected (John 20). When he took the twelve chosen disciples on a field trip, many women are also found in their group…accompanying Jesus as his students. Jesus did not have an ‘all boys club.’
However, not all of Jesus’ disciples traveled with him either; some chose to live for Jesus, not by literally following him from place to place, but from their place of residence—both of their own volition and because of Jesus’ encouragement to do so.
Healed Demoniac – Luke 8:26-39 – “26 So they arrived in the region of the Gerasenes, across the lake from Galilee. 27 As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in the tombs outside the town. 28 As soon as he saw Jesus, he shrieked and fell down in front of him. Then he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 For Jesus had already commanded the evil spirit to come out of him.”
What follows next is a conversation between Jesus and the demons, during which he permits them to enter a nearby herd of pigs…which then run headlong down the steep hillside and into the lake thereby drowning. The herdsmen are freaked out and run throughout the countryside and into town explaining what has happened…they don’t want to risk being blamed!
35 People rushed out to see what had happened. A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw the man who had been freed from the demons. He was sitting at Jesus’ feet, fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were all afraid. 36 Then those who had seen what happened told the others how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 And all the people in the region of the Gerasenes begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them. So Jesus returned to the boat and left, crossing back to the other side of the lake. 38 The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, 39 “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.”
The healed man pleads to go with Jesus, but Jesus tells him to return to his family and tell them what has happened. Despite his disappointment, he obeys. But he doesn’t stop there. Mark’s gospel tells us that he traveled throughout the Decapolis…a region known as Ten Towns…spreading the news as he went. His is an immediate and unfettered loving devotion. Here is a man, newly healed and Jesus immediately sends him out as an apostle.
However, not all who followed Jesus shared this man’s belief in him as the Messiah.
Crowds – Various Scriptures - The gospels also tell us about the crowds that followed Jesus wherever he went. While some of these undoubtedly became disciples of Jesus, many were just spectators…and they were very persistent. John writes, “A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick…5 Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him…10 “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. 12 After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” 13 So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves. 14 When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” 15 When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself” (John 6:1-15).
They were excited about Jesus—especially the miracles—and wanted more. They were even prepared to make him king! But crowds are fickle. Stop giving them what they want and they can soon turn on you. Jesus knew this. As long as he healed the sick and continued to provide a free lunch, they followed…incessantly. They never grew tired of being entertained. John continues his story to explain what happened next and confirms what Jesus already knew…within 24 hours many of these so-called followers did reject him…the very ones who had wanted to force him to become king.
What happened? Well, after escaping from them the night before, they again tracked Jesus down. This time he began to teach them about his purpose for coming; he had not come to be an earthly king, but to give spiritual life. He was going to sacrifice himself in order to provide a way to once again enjoy a relationship with God. The crowd demanded proof…despite the fact that he had just fed more than 5,000 at once with five loaves and two fish.
Jesus then drew a metaphorical parallel between God sending manna in the wilderness to sustain physical health and God sending him to be the bread and drink that would sustain them spiritually. But they were so stuck wanting him to take care of their physical needs that the metaphor went entirely over their heads.
John 6:60-71 – “60 Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?”
61 Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? 63 The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) 65 Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.”
66 At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. 67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”
68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.”
70 Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.” 71 He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him.”
John is clear…the ones who walked away were not merely the gawkers. They had been disciples of Jesus. But he was clearly not living up to their expectations. No amount of miracles could convince them. In their minds, the Messiah was meant to kick out the Romans and bring in a new day of peace and self-governance for the Jewish people…not talk some sort of mumbo jumbo about flesh and blood!
They remained blind to Jesus’ purpose…his coming sacrifice…and the spiritual renewal that would take place as a result of his death. They had known him and witnessed God’s power at work in him; but when he didn’t live up to their own faulty expectations, they walked away.
Jesus had been telling them of spiritual things and of a time to come. Today, as we celebrate communion, we live out the reality of his teaching—we live in a privileged place this side of the resurrection. We eat the bread in remembrance of his broken body and drink the juice in remembrance of his shed blood. We no longer possess a confusing metaphor, but the promise of new life.
Questions to ponder…
· As students of Jesus, are we becoming living copies of our Teacher? Or, just good fakes?
· What are we doing with the knowledge we are gaining? Are we willing to serve as ‘apostles’…sharing our faith with those who do not know Jesus and the possibility of forgiveness and eternity in heaven?
· Do we have faulty expectations of Jesus that threaten to cause us to turn our backs on God if they aren’t met? What happens when life gets tough?
· Are we ready to obey Jesus’ call on our lives—both to ‘come follow’ and to be a light where we are at? Does God have the freedom to do with our lives as he sees fit?
References and for further study / inspiration…
1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disciple_(Christianity) – Retrieved Friday, January 28, 2022
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostle - Retrieved Friday, January 28, 2022
Blog - https://lovedbibleproject.com/what-is-a-disciple-maker/ (The Loved Bible Project – What is a Disciple-Maker)
Music - “Jesus People” Danny Gokey - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sP4-aD4Y7DY&list=PLuec7k8GjI1H_C4NsoP3d6E1KxsuZf9F2&index=4
Sunday, February 6, 2022 – 2022 Theme - “Doing Life with Jesus – Jesus’ First Miracles” – In-person and Online
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!