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Subject: Christian Religious Studies
Lesson Objectives: At the end of the lesson, learners should be able to:
i. Explain the importance of the call of disciples to the ministry of Jesus,
ii. Point out the responses of the different disciples,
iii. Discuss what would be their attitude and response to God call,
iv. List factors that militates against discipleship.
Call To Discipleship (Matthew 4:18 – 25, 9:9 – 13, Mark 1:16 – 20, 2:13 – 17, Luke 5:1 – 11, 27 – 32)
Disciples mean follower, one who takes another as teacher and model. The synoptic gospel writers agreed that James and John the sons of Zebedee. Andrew and his brother Peter were the first four disciples to be called by Jesus Christ. Matthew, the tax collector became the fifth disciple that was called. Jesus selected the rest of the seven disciples from the multitude of people that later followed him.
Matthew’s And Mark’s Account
Matthew’s account of the call of the first four disciples has it that as Jesus was walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers – Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother – casting their net into the sea, he said to them, “Follow me I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately, they left their nets and followed him. Going a little bit further from there, he saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee mending their nets with their father in the boat. He called them and they followed him.
As Jesus passed on after healing the paralytic man, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office and he said to him, “follow me” and he rose and followed him. Mark, in his own account, called this tax collector Levi, the son of Aphaeus.
Note: Matthew and Mark reported similar accounts except that Mark gave the name tax collector as Levi.
According to Luke, Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret when he saw two boats by the lake. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting to one of the boats which was Simon’s he asked him to put out a little from the land. Jesus sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he stopped speaking, he said to Simon:
“Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets. (Luke 5:4 – 5).
When they tried again, they had a big catch that their net nearly broke by the weight of the fish. They could not even pull it out of the water. They called on their friends to help them. The two boats were filled with fishes and started sinking. When Simon Peter saw this miracle, he was astonished. He fell down at Jesus knees and said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man”. All the people who were with him, including James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were astonished at what happened. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men”. When they brought their boat on land, they left everything and followed Christ.
As Jesus went further, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office. He called him and the man followed him. Later the man made a feast in his house and Christ was there with many other tax collection sitting at the table with him. This made the Pharisees murmur against Christ that he was eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners. To this allegation, Christ replied:
“Those who are well have no need of physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31 – 32).
As stated above, Levi, also called Matthew was the fifth disciple to be called and the three synoptic gospels gave the account.
Reasons Why Jesus Required Disciples
i. Jesus needed disciples to continue His work after His ascension.
ii. Jesus needed them to firmly plant the seed of Christianity.
iii. He needed them as witnesses to the word.
Lessons To Learn And Significance
i. The immediate response of the first four disciples – Andrew, Peter, James and John – to the call of Jesus provides a model of what christians’ attitude should be whenever and wherever God calls them for service. Everybody may not receive call as pastors or ministers but there are some areas of service in the church where God may want them to function. They should be willing to answer God’s call and serve in whatever area of life He wants them to serve.
ii. Like Jesus, Christians should not discriminate against those they consider as sinners. They should interact with them in order to call them to repentance. At the same time, they should be careful not to allow their sinful life to influence others.
iii. Christ has to choose and train his disciples who were to carry on his work because he was aware that he had a very short time to stay on earth.
iv. As the disciples followed Christ obediently, present day Christians should endeavour to follow leaders obediently.
The Demands Of Discipleship (Matthew 8:18 – 22, Luke 9:57 – 63, 14: 25 – 33)
Demands of disciples can be interpreted in different forms to mean the cost or requirements for true discipleship. Matthew and Luke gave account of three personalities who were ambitious to be among the disciples of Jesus. The first was a scribe who came to Jesus and requested to be one of his disciples. Lawyers were the people who were referred to as scribes and they belonged to the upper class of the Hebrew society. Invariably, most of them lived in luxury. By requesting to be a disciple, he thought that discipleship was another pleasure ride. Christ, being a spiritual man, answered him saying:
“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nest; but the son of man has no where to lay his head.”
By this Christ wanted him to understand that contrary to his expressions, discipleship is associated with some difficulties and uncertainties and it involves some personal sacrifices and commitments.
Another disciple said to Jesus, “Lord let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus, in answering, said to him, “follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” By this, Christ meant that whoever did not receive the gospel was spiritually dead and they should therefore attend to the physically dead. Also by this, he meant that Christians should give preference to the service of God more than any other need.
The third person that came to Jesus preferred saying farewell to his home. And to this one, Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Jesus used this proverb to drive home the point that discipleship involves absolute commitment and loyalty to God and not with divided attention.
In Luke 14: 25 – 33, Jesus, in addressing the crowd, gave further teachings and insight into what it takes to be a disciple. Jesus said;
“If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brother and sisters, yes, and even his own life; he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
Christ used this statement to drive home the point that discipleship involves self-denial and total commitment to the service of God. The major focus of the disciples should be God’s assignment. In Jewish society by then, cross was carried by people considered to have committed crime to where they would finally be executed. Thus, cross was a symbol of shame and dishonour. Hence, by saying that one should carry one’s cross, he wanted to bring to light the extreme hardship involved in becoming a disciple.
Christ admonished people to calculate the cost. He illustrated this with two parables; building a tower and a king going to war. He said, any person wishing to build a tower must first of all calculate the cost to know whether he has the resources, otherwise he runs the risk of not being able to complete the project, as such he would suffer shame. Again, he said a king who wishes to engage in war with another king would first of all assess the strength of his opponent to know whether he could over power him otherwise he should sue for peace. Christ concluded this by saying, “so therefore; whoever of you that does not renounce all that he cannot be my disciple.”
Lesson To Learn
i. In view of that Christ taught, Christians must examine themselves properly to know whether they have the required spiritual and moral qualities before they heed the call to be either priests or evangelist as the case may be. This is very necessary to avoid getting frustrated with the service along the line.
ii. Christians should equally ask for the grace of God to enable them does the work because it is not the work of flesh that any man can prevail.
iii. Christians should see their call to service as personal sacrifice and commitment they are making to God are not a chance to make personal gains.
iv. They should be able to bear any problem or persecution on account of the gospel.
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Take a quick test for this lesson
i. What demands did Jesus make of the prospective? Disciples He encountered?
ii. Explain any one of the demands made of them by Jesus.
iii. Give Matthew’s account of the call of the first four disciples of Jesus.
iv. State three reasons why he needed disciples.
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