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Sermon24-16 Mt8 Guide

Matthew 8:18-27, theme verse Matthew 8:22

The praise and honor and glory be to our heavenly Father who seeks true worshipers who worship Him with the Spirit and truth.

In the fifth Sunday of the Lent I pray that God may bless you all in His love, grace and blessings. As we have been looking into the Gospel of Matthew, this week, we would like to meditate on His discipleship through Mt. 8 together to learn few lessons.

1)    As we already saw last few weeks, the Gospel of Matthew was written around AD 75-80 by Apostle Matthew, to the church community of Jewish converts who witnessed the destruction of the temple at AD 70, in order to install the theological foundation that His church was where the presence, the forgiveness and the will of God could be experienced so that the church community could be established as the missional church to take great commission to go and make disciples of all nations.

2)    But, Matthew said these all challenging, yet glorious mission were given to His disciples. But, to those who want to follow Jesus, denying themselves and taking their own cross, Matthew said in Mt 8:12-22 that Jesus requested two things, I mean, the suffering and the highest priority to follow Him.

3)    By the way, Matthew seems to give another peace to His disciples who were faced up with these challenges and hardship in the way of discipleship, I mean, Matthew placed the incident of “calming the wind and the see” in the verses 23-27, following the Lord’s challenges of discipleship. In other words, even though Mark in Mark 4:35-41, used this incident to reveal the Lords’ divine power to control nature, yet, Matthew interpreted this incident in relation to discipleship by saying “when Jesus got into the boat, His disciples followed Him,” after His invitation of discipleship. Matthew implies that for the disciples who followed the Lord, the Lord would be with them and help them even in the midst of challenges and hardships in their way to follow Him. Even, Matthew exhorted them to have faith even if there are hardships in their way to follow Jesus.

4)    As such, in his Gospel, Matthew refered to the disciples as those who still had little faith, yet gradually grew in faith while following the Lord. In that sense, A B. Bruce, in his book “The Training of the Twelve” divided the twelve disciples' relationship with Jesus into three stages: I mean, in the first stage, they were just believers so that they walked with Him occasionally (e.g. John 2:1, 12. 17, 22; 3"22: 4:1-27. 31, 43 -45) And in the second stage, they were with Christ in all things, even renunciating their jobs completely or habitually. (e.g. Matthew 4:1s-22:9-9). And then finally, in the third stage, His twelve disciples were selected from large group to become His apostles, as their highest calling and to receive separate special training from the Lord.

5)    But we have to know that in any cases they were always Jesus’ disciples, whether they were in the first stage as believers, or in the second stage of their closer walk with Christ, or in the third stage of their calling as apostles, and that this identity as His disciples became the foundation of their life with Jesus. In this way, the fact that Matthew wanted to show the disciples’ growth in their discipleship comforts us a lot. I mean, even though they as His disciples were still weak so that they experienced lots of failures, yet they could grow gradually to fulfill their responsibilities, even if we are not yet at the stage of mature discipleship, yet believing we can grow as His disciples, we all will become His mature disciples in the end.

6)    Generally speaking, to Socrates and Plato in the western philosophy, the goal of becoming disciple is the awakening of the sense of goodness, to cultivate moral judgement in order to develop virtue as the basis of moral action. But, as the Hebrew “limmud (לִמֻּד) meaning disciple in the OT and the Greek “mathetes (μαθητής) meaning disciple in the NT, has the meaning to learn, yet was developed to include the the devotion to their teacher, Jesus focused on His disciples, neither to impart information, nor to deepen an existing virtues, rather to awaken unconditional commitment to Himself to follow and obey to Him, after revealing Himself to them. In other words, the growth in discipleship was focused on knowing Jesus more and obeying to Him.

7)    That’s why Matthew depicted His disciples as those who wanted to conform to their master Jesus and also to obey to Him, as in Matthew 11:29, His disciple refers to those who carry the Lord's yoke and learn the Lord's meekness and humility and also, in Matthew 16:24, His disciples is described as those who deny themselves and take up their own cross to follow the Lord. But, actually these two verses have the same meaning, in other words, denying oneself which means laying down one's wisdom and strength, results in the humility through which one can realize one’s inability before God. And also obedience to take up own cross springs from meekness which is the mindset ready to obey God’s leading and commands.

8)    By the way, this concept that His disciples are those who take after the Jesus’ characters and do what Jesus commanded, is also stated in the Great Commission in Matthew 28: I mean, Being His disciples are First, to learn and keep everything the Lord has commanded, and second, to go and make disciples of all nations as the Lord commanded.

9)    And then Matthew said that His grace initiates the discipleship and also perfects it, as the two blind men followed Jesus after being healed by grace in Matthew 20:29-34, and also, in the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew 5, the Lord said, “Those who are blessed, that is, those who have received grace, can have the virtues of the kingdom of God and execute the tasks of the kingdom of God.” As such, discipleship is a life that springs from grace, as Bonhoeffer in his book “The Cost of Discipleship” said that “Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. … the call to discipleship is a gift of grace … so Happy are they who know that discipleship simply means the life which springs from grace, and that grace simply means discipleship.”

10) Through today’s Bible verses, we would like to learn few things. Firstly, these two requirements of being His disciples; that is, hardship and rearrangement of our priorities, seem very challenging to those who have to make their living, even though this society became prosperous in materials by the science and civilization. But if we think about these words again, it seems that this is not necessarily true. I mean, this does not mean that if we want to become His disciple, we have to live without a home, rather, since our home is in heave, it means that in fact, we cannot be at peace in this world. And also the Lord’s words regarding the father’s funeral does not mean that we should not bury our father when he died. In general, according to Jewish tradition, when a father died, it was the son’s duty to bury him within 24 hours and perform the accompanying funeral ceremonies, yet, according to the Jewish law, Mishnah, this funeral law even proceeded over the purification law not to touch the body. However as in Num 6:6-7 and Leviticus 21:11, those who were designated as Nazarites or high priest were not allowed to even participate in their father’s funeral, Jesus emphasized that His disciples had to place absolute importance and highest. Priority on “following Him”. In fact, I believe that all of us who are His disciples already knew this and already have been following it. Secondly as Paul confessed in 1 Cor 15:10, “by the grace of God I am who I am. … I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is within me,” we have to follow Jesus in joy and gratitude even in the midst of hardship because of His grace. And finally if there’s anyone who did not recognize His grace yet, I hope we could remember and hear Jesus’ invitation again, saying, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Therefore in this fifth Sunday of the Lent, I pray that we may become His disciples who follow Him in joy like children who follow their father, because of Jesus who is with us and takes our cross together, as those who receive His grace.

Key Questions as Small Group Activity

Q1 Today’s text says that His disciples are those who are conforming to the image of the Son while more and more obeying to His great commission to go and make disciples of all nations. In that sense, after reviewing if we are becoming like Jesus more and more, I hope you could share your thought on how we could confirm to Him with your team members to share His grace.

Q2 And also, as it was said that His disciples are those who make disciples as He commanded. So after reminding how many people did you make His disciples, I hope you could share your know-how of how to make disciples with your team members to share grace.

Love you. Thank you. God bless you.

Prayer Note

Dear ( God’s attribute which you found Today ) God!

Thanks for ( something you received through the sermon or  even during the week )

Praise, gratitude and glory be to You, Lord!

Today, I realized my sin (pains) that ( the sin God reminded through the sermon ),

please forgive (or heal) me and help me not to repeat ( the sins you recognized   ).

I learned that ( something you learned through the sermon                                    )

Please help me to live in that (  learned way of life                                                )

I pray in ( Jesus’ attribute you find ) Jesus’ name. Amen.


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