Happy Heralds, Inc
NOTES ON DISCIPLESHIP
by Dr. Fred Wittman
THE CONDITIONS OF DISCIPLESHIP 4 (cont.)
Determined Steadfast Following (Luke 9:23-25; 14:25-33)
“And He was repeatedly saying to the face of all, If (and it is true) anyone determinedly wills to come after Me, he is to utterly deny himself! And he is to carry off his /cross daily! And he is to continually follow Me! 24For who ever determinedly will to save his natural life shall lose [destroy or perish] it; but who ever lose [destroy or perish] his natural life for My cause, this one shall save it. For what is a human being profited by gaining the whole world, but losing [destroying or perishing] or suffering loss of himself?” . . . Then large crowds journeyed together with Him. And he turned and said to them, 26If (and it is true) anyone comes to [the face of] Me and does not hate the father of himself and his mother and his wife and his children and his brothers and his sisters, yet in fact even the natural life of himself, he is not able to be My disciple. 27And whoever does not bear his /cross and continually come after Me, he is not able to be My disciple. 28For who out of you &, determinedly willing to build a tower, certainly after sitting down first, he The Lord Jesus calculates the expense, does he not? if (and it is true) he has the things for the purpose of completion that lest ever, after he laid down a 0foundation in fact he is not prevailing to finish out, all the ones observing begin to mock him, 30saying, ‘‘This /human began to build and he did not prevail to finish out.’’ 31Or what king, journeying to engage another king in war, certainly after sitting down first, he deliberates with himself, does he not? If (and it is true) he is powerful by means of ten thousand to meet up with the one coming against him with twenty thousand. 32Otherwise indeed while not being yet far distant from him, he sends[with commission] an embassy and asks the things toward peace. 33Therefore in this way every one of you& who does not bid farewell to all the possessions of himself, he is not able to be My disciple” (Lk. 9:23-25; 14:25-33 APT).
Introduction: The Lord Jesus Christ set forth rigid conditions for a person to be a disciple of His. In an agricultural and farming economy it is not as difficult to get people to comply as it is in an advanced technology economy which has swept most of the world today. Nevertheless Jesus maintained an expectation of rigid conditions for His disciples throughout the ages as reflected throughout The New Testament. We noted in the introductory message to the Life that counts that The Bible equates the term disciples with Christians (Acts 11:26), a term that lost its significant meaning in the twentieth century (see What Is A Christian? on our website, click here). But just what does the Disciplined Life, the life that counts, entail? Three conditions of discipleship: Denial of Self, Reckoning Self to be Dead, and Determined Steadfast Following.
I. In Denial of Self The Focus is upon Identification
“. . . he is to utterly deny himself!” (Lk. 9:23).
This was covered in detail under THE CONDITIONS OF DISCIPLESHIP, The Disciplined Life 1 (which see under NOTES on DISCIPLESHIP on our website, click here).
To be a disciple of The Lord Jesus Christ, in addition to being disciplined in denial of self, we must go to our death.
II. In Death - Reckoning Self Dead “. . . he is to carry off his /cross daily!” (Lk. 9:23).
The first two aspects of this is:
A. Dying to Self The Focus is upon Interests
B. Dying to SinThe Focus is upon Intrigue,
both were covered in detail under THE CONDITIONS OF DISCIPLESHIP, The Disciplined Life 2 (which see under NOTES on DISCIPLESHIP on our website, click here).
C. Dying to the World The Focus is upon Involvement.
(Gal. 6:14; Rom. 12:2; 1 Jn. 2:15-17).
The third aspect of Reckoning Self Dead to the World was discussed in detail under THE CONDITIONS OF DISCIPLESHIP, The Disciplined Life 3 (which see under NOTES on DISCIPLESHIP on our website, click here).
III. In Determined Steadfast Following “he is to continually follow Me!” (Lk. 9:23).
The third condition which Jesus gave to His disciples in the introductory text above (Lk. 9:23-25; 14:25-33 APT) is to follow The Lord Jesus Christ with a determined will in persistent steadfast following. There are two relationships that require following: a sheep to the shepherd and a disciple to his master-teacher. When a sheep gets sick, then it will follow anyone. Paul Lee Tan in Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations (p. 499) relates the story of an American traveling in Syria. He
“saw three native shepherds bring their flocks to the same brook, and the flock(s) drank there together. At length one shepherd arose and called out, ‘ Men-ah! Men-ah!’ the Arabic for ‘follow me!’ His sheep came out of the common herd and followed him up the hillside. The next shepherd did the same, and his sheep went away with him, and the man did not count them. The traveler said to the remaining shepherd, ‘Give me your turban and crook, and see if they will not follow me as well as you.’ So he put on the shepherd’s dress and called out,’ Men-ah! Men-ah!’ Not a sheep moved. They know not the voice of a stranger. ‘Will your flock never follow anybody but you?’ inquired the gentleman. The Syrian shepherd replied, ‘Oh, yes; sometimes a sheep gets sick, and then he will follow any one.’”
The word “follow” is a word with complex meaning. It has several facets of meaning. Different people think of the act of following in one sense or another and not necessarily as involving entirely all the aspects. However The Lord Jesus Christ had all of these in mind when he said, “Follow Me.” Therefore it behooves us to understand and explain the full meaning of “follow” in all its aspects. Please refer to Webster’s International Dictionary. The word “follow” means “to walk after, to attend closely to, to accept as authority: obey, to understand the thoughts of, to be led by: to engage in as a way of life, to imitate, to keep the mind on, to be guided by.”
A two word phrase that Jesus used in the English translation of The New Testament is “Follow Me!” An equivalent phrase in the Old Testament is “walk after The Lord!” Eighteen times the Gospels record that The Lord Jesus said, ’ακολούθει μοι, “Follow Me!” Four times He used the word δεûρο (singular) or δεûτε (plural) meaning “come here” as a command , yet translated in some of the popular versions as “follow me” (Mt. 4:19), or as “come follow me” or simply as “come.” The context in which The Lord Jesus uses δεûρο or δεûτε with the second person singular pronoun is in regard to discipleship, except once in a prophetic sense (Mt. 25:34). After Jesus’ Baptism, directly (Mk. 1:19-12APT) He was led by The Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tested by the devil for 40 days. Now it was necessary for Him to gather a core of disciples through whom he would build His world wide church. Then Jesus went to Baythahbahráh area for three days where some from Jerusalem and Judea and all the surrounding region of Jordan went out to John to be baptized of Him. Six men from Galilee met Him (Jn. 1:28-51). Two left John to see where Jesus dwelt, then went to get their brothers. Two became His disciples immediately and went to Kahnâh of Galilee with Him for the wedding feast (Jn. 2:1,2). Multitudes of people started to follow Him, appearing to be disciples, but most later abandoned Him, one betrayed Him, and the leading spokesman denied Him. So it is possible to begin to follow Christ without being born again or regenerated. Jesus called these who begin but do not continue, “the temporary ones” (Mk. 4:17APT).
I. He Called Privately to Follow Him:
A. Several who followed Him, including a fishermen and a tax collector, are recorded as abandoning their loved ones and their occupations :
1. Peter and Andrew (Mt. 4:18-20) who abandoned their nets and followed Him;
2. James and John (Mt. 4:20-22) who abandoned their father with the hired men (Mk. 1:20) in the boat and followed Him;
3. Matthew (Levi) (Lk. 5:27 cf. Mt. 9:9) who left entirely all remaining behind and followed Him (Lk. 5:28).
B. Other unnamed ones did not follow Him:
1. A scribe (Mt. 8:21,22 cf. Lk. 9:59; ) of whom it is not recorded whether he followed Him or not;
2. A rich young ruler who wanted eternal life (Mt. 19:16-21,22 cf. Mk. 10:17-21, 22 cf. Lk. 18:18-22,23) but did not follow Him because it would cost Him too much;
3. One who offered to follow Him but was attached to his father (Lk. 9:59,60); and
4. Another who offered to follow Him but wanted first to bid farewell to his relatives (Lk. 9:61,62).
It is apparent from these accounts that following The Lord Jesus Christ requires compelling and serious consideration of the cost of discipleship and critical decision with finality. Following The Lord Jesus Christ involves all the aspects of the meaning of the word ‘follow’. The one who decides to follow The Lord Jesus Christ must determine to walk after Him persistently. That one must persistently attend closely to His Word and accept His authority always with prompt or undelayed, precise or unquestioning, and uninterrupted and enduring obedience. To follow The Lord Jesus Christ requires the study of The God’s Word to understand the thoughts and be led by Him. It involves engaging His way as your way of life by imitating Him and keeping your mind on Him so as to be guided by Him.
II. He Called Publicly To Take His Yoke (Mt. 11:27- 30).
The Lord Jesus Christ began His public ministry in late A.D. 29 by calling disciples to follow Him. Later He extended the call beyond the intimate disciples with which He began His ministry, until in late Tammuz (July) He selected twelve. Then in Elul (September) A.D. 31, He extended His invitation and began to call publicly to people in the crowds to become His disciples and to persistently follow Him.
In the midst of addressing the crowds accompanying Him, after briefly discussing John the Baptizer and the Kingdom of Heaven, followed by defaming the cities of Kkohrahzéen, Baythsah-eedáh, and Kahpehrnah-oúm, The Lord Jesus lifted his voice to The Father in thanksgiving. Then He exhorted the crowds, firstly by indicating the only way to know The Father and then by publicly inviting them to become His disciples by taking His yoke of discipleship.
“27All~ things are delivered over to Me by My / Father. And not one fully knows [from experience] The Son except The Father. Neither does anyone fully know [from experience] The Father except The Son and |the one| to whom ever The Son desirously wills to reveal |Him|. 28Come here to Me! all you& wearying in labor and perpetually burdened ones and I will refreshingly repose you&. 29Carry off My /yoke upon you& and learn [be discipled by means of] by practice from Me because I am meek and humble in heart! And you& shall find refreshing repose for your& souls. 30For My /yoke |is| kind and My /burden is light weight” (Mt. 11:27-30APT).
A. As we consider this passage, four questions will be raised and answered.
1. Why Spoken?
a. There was No Repentance (v. 20);
“At that time He began to defame[verbally abuse] the cities in which the most mirac- ulous powers of His came to pass because they did not repent” (Mt. 11:20 APT).
Jesus had just defamed three important Galilean cities because He had demonstrated His miraculous powers which proved Him to be The Son of The God and The Prophet Of whom Moses spoke and wrote (Deut, 18:15, 18,19) and also proved His message to be authentic and originated with and came from The God and they did not commit trust in Him and did not repent. Everyone who does not repent and commit trust in The Lord Jesus Christ will perish.
b. There was a Lack of Knowledge of The God (v. 27; 2 Tim. 3:7);
Jesus told the crowds that not anyone fully knows The Father from experience except the one to whom The Son desirously wills to reveal Him. So as He called them then, He still calls people today to come and take the yoke of discipleship and learn as a disciple from Him in order to know The Father from experience. There were people in Paul’s day just as there are people to day that can be described as humans, who are “ones always [learning by practice]training and ones not even ever able to come unto 0knowledge[from experience] of 0Truth.” The prophet Hosea recorded the words of The LORD to the people of Israel,
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hos. 4:6).
Additional to no repentance and a lack of knowledge of the Truth among the people to whom The Christ ministered, another reason why this call was spoken by The Lord Jesus Christ was that the people were wearied from labor to be free from being perpetually burdened and yoked in bondage to Sin and Satan.
c. They were Burdened with the Yoke of Bondage to Sin and Satan (Rom. 7:13,14,25).
“So that actually the law |is | holy and the commandment holy and just and beneficially good. Therefore has the beneficially good thing become death to me? May it never be! But on the contrary, the Sin, in order that it appear Sin, through the beneficially good thing is continually performing death in me in order that the Sin occur extremely, exceptionally depraved through the commandment. For we are aware that the law is spiritual, but I myself am continually fleshly[controlled by the flesh] standing sold under the Sin. . . . Really therefore myself, I myself serve as a bondslave: on the one hand with the comprehension, to 0God’s law, but on the other hand with the flesh, to Sin’s 0law” (Rom. 7:13,14,25APT).
The Lord Jesus Christ came to set humans free from bondage to sin. The only way for one to be so freed is permit Him to break the yoke of bondage to which one has yielded all one’s life and yield to the yoke of discipleship with The Lord Jesus Christ and begin learning from experience the knowledge of The God, The Father and the knowledge of The Truth.
2. What Spoken? (Reread Mt. 11:27-30 above, second paragraph under II.).
3. What Yoke is this? The Yoke of Instruction in Discipleship by which you can obtain ‘‘Full Experiential Knowledge.’’.
4. Whose Yoke? It is The Lord Jesus Christ’s yoke.
a. Instead of labor, this yoke provides refreshing repose for your soul.
b. By taking and carrying this yoke, you no longer bear the hard, rigorous, irritating, and wearying yoke of bondage to sin which will be discarded and replaced by His kind, easy, and light weight yoke. The word ‘easy’ is the translation of a Greek word that means “wholesome, good, and serviceable” which eases your load.
c. This load is kindly like feathers to birds; not a burden, but a bane. His easy yoke helps motion like the feathers enable birds to fly. It makes the weight of the burden in labor lighter.
B. Consider What Taking and Carrying This Yoke Involves.
1. Persistently Walk in Step with Him!
If you get out of step, the yoke will rub, just like the yoke of oxen rubs the neck of the ox lagging back and must bear more of the burden. But just get back in step with The Lord Jesus Christ and the yoke will be balanced and He will bear the load and relieve the rub.
2. Persistently Learn through Study of His Word!
If you miss out on the study of His Word, you miss out on directions necessary to stay in step with Him. But the more you study, the more you understand the way He is leading. And the more you study, he more you understand the directions for keeping in step as well as much of the ways He deals with His Church and the ways He has acted in the past, and how He acts, reacts, and deals with obedience, disobedience, sin, rebellion, and relationships with Him through thinking feeling and deciding.
III. He Called Publicly to Follow Him (Mk. 8:34; Lk. 9:23; Jn. 12:26).
After the initial public invitation to the crowds in Elul (September) A.D. 3, The Lord Jesus repeated His invitation to the multitudes. Occasions of His repeated invitation is recorded at least twice. But in these Scriptures He indicated a cross experience is necessary in order to persistently, continually follow Him. This is not a contradiction, but a clarification. In the process of obtaining full experiential knowledge, a disciple learns the necessity of denying self and taking up the cross to indicate hid or her willingness to die to self. All three synoptic writers record the incident that occurred in Sivan (June) A.D. 32. Matthew indicates that He said “to His disciples” (Mt. 16:24).
“At that time /Jesus said to His /disciples, If (and it is true) anyone determinedly wills to come after Me, he is to utterly deny himself! And he is to carry off his /cross! And he is to continually follow Me!” (Mt. 16:24APT).
Mark stipulates that “He summoned the crowd with His /disciples.”
“And when He summoned the crowd [in company] with His /disciples to Himself, He said to them, Whoever is determinedly willing to come in back of Me, he is to utterly deny himself! And he is to carry off his /cross! And he is to continually follow Me!” (Mk. 8:34APT).
Luke states that He was” repeatedly saying to all.”
“And He was repeatedly saying to[the face of] all, If (and it is true) anyone determinedly wills to come after Me, he is to utterly deny himself! And he is to carry off his /cross daily! And he is to continually follow Me!” (Lk. 9:23APT).
All three Synoptic records describe the same event at Panias or Kaisahrayáh of Philip.
John relates another incident in which certain Hellenists (Greek speaking Jews) approached Philip seeking to behold Jesus. When Jesus heard it, after referring to His approaching death and the need for those who follow Him to disregard their natural lives to be able to serve Him, He said,
“If (and it may be) anyone domestically serve[attend to needs of] Me, he is to continually follow Me! And where I am Myself continuously being, there also /My /domestic servant[attendant to needs of] shall be. And if (and it may be) anyone domestically serve[attend to needs of] Me, The Father shall respectfully cherish[as precious value] him with tender affection” (Jn. 12:26APT).
Just as He called people to become His disciples and to steadfastly persist in continually following Him, so He calls upon you and me to do the same.
IV. He Calls You to Begin Now and Persistently Steadfastly Follow Him to demonstrate your true eternal relationship and your love (Jn. 10: 27-30: 14:21,23,24). If you love Him with a love that sovereignly prefers Him to yourself and to all others as He loved you and me, love with a self denying, self-renouncing, self-surrendering, self-sacrificing love, you will determine to heed His call to discipleship and prove that love through your immediate action.
There are two passages with references easy to remember that provide and remind us of two excellent reasons to persistently, steadfastly follow Him. They are:
A. To be a sheep of His (Jn. 10:27-30);
“The sheep& /belonging to Me are continually hearing My /call. And I Myself continually [know from experience] them and they continually follow Me. And I Myself continually give eternal absolute life to them and they shall positively not perish for ever. And not anyone shall snatch them out of My /hand” (Jn. 10:27-30APT).
The very opposite is true of every one who does not persistently, steadfastly follow The Shepherd, The Lord Jesus Christ. To begin and not continue indicates you are not His sheep, even though you claim, The Lord is my Shepherd. If you do not continually walk after Him persistently, persistently attend closely to His Word, accept His authority always with prompt or undelayed, precise, enduring obedience, study The God’s Word to understand His thoughts and be led by Him, engaging His way as your way of life by imitating Him, keeping your mind on Him so as to be guided by Him, you are not following Him and you are not His sheep.
B. To become His disciple (Mt. 11:27-30).
“All~ things are delivered over to Me by My /Father. And not one fully knows [from experience] The Son except The Father. Neither does anyone fully [know from experience] The Father except The Son and |the one| to whom ever The Son desirously wills to reveal |Him|. Come here to Me! all you& wearying in labor and perpetually burdened ones and I will refreshingly repose you&. 29Carry off My /yoke upon you & and learn [be discipled by means of] by practice from Me because I am meek and humble in heart! And you& shall find refreshing repose for your & souls. 30For My /yoke | is | kind and My /burden is light weight” (Mt. 11:27-30APT).
1. Do not follow ‘from far off’ as Peter who forsook Him in the Garden and warmed himself at the fire with the servants of those who cried, Crucify Him (Mt. 26:58)! But follow Him in close proximity as Paul even though it meant persecution.
2. Follow with determined steadfastness, not turning back as Daymohs, Paul’s companion while Paul was imprisoned in Rome, who “forsook Paul because he loved this now age (world)” (2 Tim. 4:10APT cf. Col. 4:14).
3. Keep Determinedly Following Steadfastly to the end (Heb. 3:14; 6:11,12).
“For we have become associates of The Christ, if only we firmly hold on to the beginning of the reality steadfast til 0end” (Heb. 3:14APT).
“Now we continually earnestly desire for each of you& to exemplify the same persevering attention to the full assurance of the hope until 0end in order that you& not become sluggish ones but imitators of the ones |who| through faith[committed trust] and long-suffering, are inheriting the promises” (Heb. 6:11,12 APT).
CONCLUSION: Self denial, reckoning self to be dead to selfish interests in possessions, in pleasures, and in appetites and lusts of the flesh, as well as reckoning self to be dead to Sin and to the world, demonstrate that you are indeed crucified with Christ, all of this is an impossibility in your own strength! Apart from a cross and resurrection experience it cannot be accomplished! Death to self in the spiritual sense through a cross experience (true repentance and totally committed trust) is absolutely necessary to become a regenerated person, to become Christ’s disciple, and to become a true member of His true Church. Jesus told the multitude that His disciple must deny self and be willing to be crucified daily. This involves death to self, to sin, and to the world, but alive in Christ. And then He expects determined steadfast following of Himself.
Have you considered the consequences of continuing in darkness and in bondage to sin and remaining in the kingdom of this world which shall perish? Are you determined to be delivered from the power of darkness and death? Are you ready and willing to repent and unreservedly commit to The Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord and appropriate His Salvation to become His disciple?
Failure to act on The Lord Jesus Christ’s invitation to follow Him leaves you in the yoke of bondage to Sin and Satan laboring to fit yourself for Heaven and eternity, struggling to do right in your own strength but constantly failing. Your only hope of salvation and peaceful rest is found in The Lord Jesus Christ. Why not take advantage of Christ's offer now? Repent, Believe, Receive, Come, and Commit to Christ today! Then begin to continually follow Him steadfastly all the rest of your days.
What will you do NOW with The Lord Jesus Christ’s glorious invitation to become His disciple?
| | understood $singular &plural /the 0no article +masculine ~neuter
Send mail to Info@HappyHeralds.org