READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l “The greatest failure of the church is not our poor evangelism, but our poor discipleship.” (Rev Stanley Chua) Why is this so, even though there is no lack of resources and teachings on discipleship? The issue is a common challenge across our churches. To make it more obvious, we add the word ‘intentional’, hoping that this will provide the needed emphasis and push.
Perhaps the issue is more fundamental than it is intentional? Have we missed a basic point in our definition and understanding of discipleship and following Jesus? On social media, not much is required of a follower. But for a believer, what does it mean to follow Jesus?
In its simplest form, a disciple is a student, learner, pupil and follower of Jesus. A believer of Christ is therefore also a disciple of Christ.
The issue arises when church members declare ourselves to be followers, but without identifying, acknowledging and accepting our position as disciples.
Was it Jesus’ first encounter with Andrew, Peter, James and John?
It was not a first encounter. Andrew had met Jesus earlier through John the Baptist; and Andrew subsequently brought Peter to see Jesus. It was also likely that John and James had already been following Jesus. (Jn 1: 35-42)
Was Jesus’ invitation to “follow me” a call to discipleship?
It was probably not a first call to discipleship. Andrew and John were disciples of John the Baptist who switched discipleship to Jesus. “Follow me” was therefore an invitation to the next level of commitment. Not as and when, but all the way, whatever it takes. Similarly, Jesus is always inviting us to take the next step and to go deeper and higher with Him.
What qualifies one to be a disciple of Jesus?
The four were untrained, uneducated Galilean fishermen. It does not take much to become a follower of Jesus. We simply need to believe and want to follow Jesus. As with salvation, we are also qualified to be disciples by grace through faith.
What allowed the four to respond immediately?
It was a process. Their prior, personal and promised experience with Jesus had led them to a point of deep conviction and total abandonment.
What holds us back from a deeper commitment of following Jesus?
In following Jesus, the disciples left their nets, boat and father. The nets could be likened to the entanglements and entrapments in life (fears, doubts, hurts, unforgiveness and sin); the boat to our trust in material assets and securities, and the father to relationships and comfort zones. We are to serve Christ first and then our loved ones. Christ is more than faithful and totally worth leaving our “nets”, “boats” and “father” to follow.
In discipleship, the process begins with following the lead of Jesus as He sets the reference. We are also invited to come alongside and keep in step with Jesus in a relationship (Matthew 4:19-22). This is what discipleship looks like.
“A disciple is a normal Christian who follows Christ.” (Bill Hull) There is no difference between a believer, a follower and a disciple of Christ. A disciple would also be a more intentional Christian. The question therefore is whether we are faithful or unfaithful disciples. Jesus’ call to “follow me” invites us to take the next step in discipleship.
(Sermon notes by Denis Koh)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- How has the Holy Spirit spoken to you through the preaching of God’s word?
- How would you summarise the message of this section or story?
- What can we learn about God in this passage or story?
- What is God’s personal invitation to you through this message?