Order of Worship
Sunday Service 05.31.2020
  • All Praise To Him
      • Psalm 113:1–9ESV

  • 10,000 Reasons
  • Because He Lives (Amen)
  • Now I Belong To Jesus
  • Learning the Master’s Method - Luke 6:12-19

    Intro: The greatest impacts on my life have come through relationships. - Parents, mentors, spouses… wait, just one of those ;-), real friendships
    As believers, what should we focus on that will have the most lasting impact in people’s lives? When we are trying to answer big-picture questions like these, sometimes methodology isn’t the priority. But what if the simple methodology at its core is central to the mission?! - That’s my argument from the text today! The discipleship method, the internship method, the apprenticeship model, the mentoring model… whatever we want to call it… is the model that Jesus set for having the most lasting impact in the lives of those who will carry on the mission of growing in Jesus and making him known.
    We’ll get to that in the heart of our text selection for today. But in looking at all of vv. 12-19 of chapter 6 in Luke, I want to discuss…
    How to prioritize our life and ministry in following Jesus:
    (Jesus gave us a model for making disciples and reaching the world for him.)

    Intimate Prayer - Tethered to and Dependent on God

    Preparation and Clarity through prayer. - Jesus prayed often, and he certainly prayed at the front end of major decisions and events. - We should aim to be consistent and persistent in prayer, patient in prayer.
    (How many of you are totally fine and calm and patient if you ask someone for an important answer or help and they take a long time getting back to you?)
    God can be trusted. That’s why we’re praying to him and not someone else!
    Reliance and Connectedness (intimacy) through prayer. - By praying, Jesus demonstrated his dependence on unity with the Father and the Spirit. Jesus shows us where to turn with our need. Jesus gives us a model for personal intimacy with God.
    Here’s where I think prayer can be so highly misunderstood: Is prayer’s primary purpose to try to get God to do something we want (to see it out way), or to come to him with our need and trust him to be good and to accomplish what’s best for us his way… to get guidance and clarity to follow his way? - You see the difference?!
    You can imagine the difference btwn your teenager coming to you with their need, genuinely seeking help and guidance and wisdom, versus coming to you to manipulate you, to convince you to see it their way and get what they want? - Which one of those gets at the real heart and purpose of prayer?
    Another element God us given us (a means of his grace to us) that is closely connected with our need for prayer. For us this intimacy in prayer must also include pouring over the written communication from God. The Bible literally communicates for us the character of God (his heart), the ways of God, and the purposes of God (what his plan is, and therefore how we live in connection to his plan). So then it makes perfect sense that our effectiveness in prayer is somewhat proportionate to our comprehension of God and his will, right?

    Intimate Discipleship - Focus on Fewer Followers for Lasting Impact

    From among his disciples, those who are following him and listening to his teaching, who consider themselves to be people who believe he is a unique and authoritative figure in Israel at this point of history…
    From among these more dedicated followers, Jesus selects 12 in particular to name apostles: it’s a word that means sent ones, messengers with delegated authority. - 12 disciples/followers become unique disciples/apostles.
    Often in the Gospels this group is simply called the twelve, but it is Luke who most frequently speaks of them with this apostolic designation, particularly because he will continue to show the special power and authority they had from Jesus in establishing the early church. It makes sense. This band of men were to learn from Jesus and carry on his ministry after his departure.
    So Jesus’ authority to proclaim the kingdom (and to heal, cast out demons) would continue on in a special way through these apostles (commissioned representatives). - Later too in some way through all his true followers. - The great commission: delegated authority to carry on the mission of making disciples from all people groups of the earth…
    We then, as his people, remain both disciples and apostles (though not in the same sense as these original twelve). - We are his followers and his messengers… or ambassadors, the metaphor used by the Apostle Paul.
    Why does Jesus pick 12? - It’s hard to miss the parallelism to the fact that there were twelve tribes of Israel… 12 sons of Jacob.
    The theological significance of that is a matter of great debate because it involves many other moving parts of Bible study, especially about future things (things yet to come - eschatology) and therefore also the role of the Church and Israel in that plan in the present age (ecclesiology).
    One theological approach emphasizes continuity with the Old Testament, such that this new Israel (the Church) formed from these twelve founders stretches back in such a way that the Church is present even under the old covenant.
    Another emphasizes discontinuity between the old and new covenants, such that the new and true Israel has superseded old covenant promises, or conversely that the church is clearly distinct from Israel and therefore any promises to national Israel will yet be fulfilled in the future.
    Others say that there are elements of both continuity and discontinuity between the old and new covenants. These are both progressive dispensationalists and progressive covenantalists, each on different sides of a fence that tries to understand the interplay with a new covenant that replaces the old without altering the original spirit and intent of God’s prior promises to Israel and being fair to the superiority of the new covenant and the significant role of the Church. - I am in the process of carefully studying these two positions to determine which one I think best describes the straightforward movement of God’s revelation to us in the Bible. [My understanding of the positions is based on the works of Blaising & Bock on the one side and by Wellum & Gentry (among others) on the other side.]
    In more practical terms, though, why did Jesus chose just these twelve to be his most intimate pupils and primary apostles?
    How many people could he personally and intimately teach and hold accountable for how they are responding to all that he is doing and teaching, and to personally pass them the baton of carrying on this ministry?
    - What’s more, we learn from the Gospel accounts that Jesus not only had a small group of twelve but then clearly an even smaller inner circle of three. Why Peter, James, John? What sets these guys apart? (Did they have the most potential? We’d be hard pressed to prove that from scripture. Were they the most teachable? We might be able to argue something of this from scripture… but I mean, Peter and the sons of thunder, really? … With intimate communion and dependency on the Father, he chose them. That’s what sets them apart. Why was Peter the leader? Bc Jesus chose him to be. Why was James one of the earliest church martyrs (Acts 12) and John lived to be an old man and write a unique Gospel and Revelation (& some letters)? Bc of God’s providential orchestration.
    Why did God choose you? … Why did he choose the team of misfits that we are doing ministry with? Because He is God. - Now the question becomes how we do our very best to implement the model Jesus set for us.
    Can you imagine, just like any team we might put together in ministry, all the idiosyncrasies and quirks, conflicts and disappointments, that might have arisen as these men served under Jesus together? - It shouldn’t surprise us that they had to learn, as we do, that ministry is about being a servant rather than seeking prominence, and that we have to forgive each other not a few, not seven, but MANY times… and not quit on what we know God is doing in our lives. Essentially, we strive to be as patient and compassionate with each other as Jesus is with us.
    Let’s go quickly through the list of names, whom Jesus himself picked with care and calculation:
    Simon, whom he named Peter (meaning rock… no doubt as a connection to making him the foundational leader of the group… the others would need to be able to count on him). Peter is always at the beginning of lists of the twelve. - from here on, Luke almost exclusively calls him Peter. - Peter was a man of great passion, but he often channeled it in the wrong direction. He was confident and determined. Jesus taught Peter to channel his passion in the right direction, to be humble and depend on God so that his confidence and determination was in the right person and headed the right direction, and to not be big talk but to lead by example.
    Andrew is both the brother of Peter and a fellow fisherman. John tells us that he and Peter were from Bethsaida, but Mark says Peter lived in Capernaum. Bethsaida is probably their town of origin and Capernaum is where they live and work now.
    James & John, sons of Zebedee and sons of thunder - Fishing partners in some way with Peter and Andrew.
    Philip we learn in John’s Gospel was the one who brought Nathanael to Jesus. - In every list of the disciples, Philip’s name heads the second group of four… perhaps suggesting some type of informal (or even formal) organization within the team of twelve.
    It’s possible or likely that this Bartholomew is the Nathanael of John’s Gospel. The reasons are simple: Bartholomew is a patronym (“son of Tolmai”), so it isn’t likely to be his full name (perhaps more like going by his surname). So while the Synoptics use this name, John talks about a Nathanael among the apostles (John 21:2) but never mentions a Bartholomew. - It’s quite possible they are the same person.
    Matthew, as we previously discussed, is almost certainly none other than the customs tax-collector Levi.
    Thomas means “twin,” and he is also called Didymus. Thomas is perhaps most remembered for desiring personally verified evidence of the risen Jesus rather than trusting the word of his friends.
    Beginning the last group of four is James the son of Alpheus. - The extra designation with these common names helps to distinguish them from others, such as John’s brother James or even Jesus’ half brother James.
    The first Simon may have the most significant nickname, but this second Simon has the most exciting—the Zealot. The term zealot almost certainly indicates that he was grouped with “political activists who were radically opposed to Roman rule. Apart from Jesus’ call and influence on their lives, Matthew and Simon would have had deep animosity toward each other, with Matthew (as a tax collector) working in the service of Rome, and Simon (as a Zealot) seeking to overthrow Rome.” -Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1962.
    As Judas the son of James is not mentioned in the parallel accounts, but rather a Thaddaeus is named, they are probably one and the same. - Like before, this is not the Jude (Judas) who is the half-brother of Jesus.
    At the end of every list comes Judas Iscariot, known most of all for his betrayal (“who became a traitor”). Iscariot probably means “man from Kerioth,” a town in Judea.
    Notice both the eclectic blend and ordinariness of these men: Fishermen, tax collectors, political zealots. - Notice too what kind of people are conspicuously missing: Trained religious leaders in the “system.”
    Jesus chose these teachable men (or at least he made them teachable in the training process :-)) to devote special attention, pouring into them and training them to be those who would carry on his work.
    In a book titled The Master Plan of Evangelism, Robert Coleman draws our attention to this obvious truth that we might miss for all our other efforts to be like Jesus and spread the news about him. The Master’s plan for in fact reaching the entire world with the news of what he had done and making invitation for them to be his disciples (that’s the mission), was this simple and essential method that he models for us.
    I’m convinced that he’s right. Train new followers of Jesus by having close relationships where they can essentially apprentice under those who are more mature and work alongside some of their peers. Growth and effective learning are exponentially better in that kind of scenario than in a large group like this where I’m monologuing at you. - Now of course this kind of preaching of God’s truth is right and it’s essential, even central (like the backbone) to what a local church is a does… we need it and must continue in it. But if you REALLY want to grow, each of you needs more attention and accountability. There’s no way around it. You need to get close to a person you admire in the faith, who inspires you to pursue God’s character and obedience to his command.
    Look, Jesus hand picked these men, but as far as I can tell, nothing is to stop you from being a believer who seeks out mentors yourself, or from being a believer who seeks out people to have a positive influence in their lives.

    Without Neglecting Mercy and Teaching the Multitudes

    “And [Jesus] came down with them and stood on a level place...”
    This section transitions from the choosing of the twelve to a section of teaching that has become known as the ‘Sermon on the Plain’ (which is the twin sister of the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ in Matthew). - “Throughout [this brief sermon that follows in Luke 6] we are reminded of what it means to be a disciple: it is more than fine words, it is a whole way of life.” -Leon Morris, Luke: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 3, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 146.
    And who will better learn to understand this truth than those who are with Jesus 24/7 in his ministry?
    Before he begins teaching, Luke tells us that people are coming from all over because of the word spreading about Jesus. [17b-19] And Luke continues to prove that it is Jesus’ unique power and authority that draws people to him, in both healing and teaching.
    So even as Luke and the others Gospels indicate, Jesus will increasingly focus his attention on the 12, but does not neglect compassion on the masses and teaching them, even though many of them will prove to be fair-weather followers.
    What does this mean for us?
    These needy, hurting people… who are just like us… need to be shown the mercy of Christ, need to be reached with the Gospel. - This last part we touched on today reminds us to do good to people in the love of Christ, whether or not we expect that they will ultimately respond to the gospel (as if we could know that anyways). - So we show compassion on the least of these, and we teach truth to even the most unlikely of candidates… bc it’s exactly what Jesus would do, modeled for us to do.
    But what then is the means to reach the multitudes of people across the globe with the Gospel? How can the goal of reaching all be accomplished? Jesus shows us the way by training a select group of men to invest in particularly so that they will carry on the ministry. Jesus set the model, giving us the discipleship method.
    As Luke continues to demonstrate, Jesus has unique power and authority. And he told us by that authority to go and make disciples. We need to give serious attention to his method for accomplishing that goal!
    PRAY
    Questions:
    -What does prayer do for the pray-er?
    -What other means of grace should clearly be factored into our intimacy with God in prayer?
      • Luke 6:12–19ESV

  • Living Hope
Discussion Questions

What does prayer do for the pray-er? What other means of grace should clearly be factored into our intimacy with God in prayer?

What's your level of comfort with intimate discipleship? Why? Do you see it as essential?

Of all the episodes of unique stories of things that happen with one or more of the disciples, which one is your favorite?

In our church family and in your closer circle of relationships, how do you think we are doing in terms of mercy to those in need? How can we do better?

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