February 16, 2014

Cost of following Jesus

Passage: Luke 6:12-16
Service Type:

Bible Text: Luke 6:12-16 | Preacher: Pastor Steve | Series: 40 days of Abiding
After a night dedicated to prayer, Jesus chose twelve men to be his followers — his representatives. Whatever Jesus’ specific reasons for choosing each disciple, as a group they were often hot-tempered, unbelieving, and “clueless” about the spiritual realities behind Jesus’ ministry. One became a traitor, and all of them abandoned Jesus when following him meant sacrifice and hardship.
These men proved the truth of Jesus’ words: You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last (John 15:16 NIV).
God has chosen us and God’s grace will help us overcome any human trait that can mar believers’ effectiveness — even the sin that so horribly corrupts them. Believers who are aware of their unworthiness to merit God’s mercy and love are in the best position to experience what he can do for them and through them.
Luke 6:12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God
Pray First: Jesus never wrote any books. He never led any church-growth conferences or revival meetings. He left no organizational charts for us to follow. His one and only method for founding and building up his church was the men whom he called to follow him. These men were his legacy. There was no plan B. No wonder he spent an extended period of time in prayer before choosing them.
Whenever we need to select leaders or move in new directions significant time should be devoted to prayer!
Luke 6:13-14 At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles.
Jesus did not take volunteers; he chose those whom God had directed him to choose. The choice of twelve men is highly symbolic. The number twelve corresponds to the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28), showing the continuity between the old religious system and the new one based on Jesus’ message.
Jesus selected ordinary men with a mixture of backgrounds and personalities to be his disciples. Jesus did not choose these twelve to be his disciples because of their faith — it often faltered. He didn’t choose them because of their talent and ability — no one stood out with unusual ability. The disciples represented a wide range of backgrounds and life experiences, and apparently they may have had no more leadership potential than those who were not chosen. The one characteristic they all shared was their willingness to obey Jesus.
Ask for patience to accept the diversity of people in your church, and for wisdom to see their gifts and abilities. Build on the variety of strengths represented in your group.
Luke 6:15 Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the Zealot).
Matthew was also known as Levi. He had been a tax collector who, at Jesus’ call, had given up everything in order to follow him (5:27-28). Then he had invited all his tax collector friends to also meet Jesus (5:29). He would later write the Gospel of Matthew.
Thomas is often remembered as “Doubting Thomas” because he doubted Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:24-25). Thomas had not been with the disciples at Jesus’ first appearance, so when the other disciples said that Jesus was alive, he didn’t believe them. However, when Thomas saw and touched the living Christ, he readily believed. Thomas loved Jesus and understood what Jesus’ mission entailed, for when Jesus determined to return to Judea and enemy territory, Thomas said to the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16).
James was called son of Alphaeus to differentiate him from James the son of Zebedee (and brother of John) in 6:14. Simon the Zealot is also called, in some versions of Scripture, Simon the Canaanite. Simon was probably not a member of the party of Zealots, for that political party was not identified as such until A.D. 68. Most likely the word “Zealot” used here indicates zeal for God’s honor and fervent nationalism that characterized Simon before he followed Jesus. Most likely, it was an affectionate nickname.
Luke 6:16 Judas (son of James), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).
Judas (son of James) is also called Thaddaeus (Mark 3:18). He is also mentioned in Acts 1:13. Rounding out the list is Judas Iscariot, with the footnote that he is the one who later betrayed Jesus. The name “Iscariot” is probably a compound word meaning “the man from Kerioth.” Thus, Judas’s hometown was Kerioth in southern Judea (see Joshua 15:25), making him the only one of the Twelve who was not from Galilee. It might seem strange that Jesus would spend an entire night in prayer to pick this group, then end up choosing Judas.
Did Jesus make a mistake? No. The plan had been set in motion from the beginning of time, and this was part of the plan that would eventually come to its final conclusion in Judas’s betrayal of Jesus and suicide. The betrayal fulfilled prophecy and helped to bring Jesus to the cross. There was no mistake. That was the way of salvation.
Discussion Questions
What is prayer to you? Explain in your own words what is means to pray to the Lord and share one key lesson you have learned about prayer in your life.
What does it mean to you to “fervently” pray for someone of something?
Is it important to seriously and fervently pray? Why or why not?
Do you believe that better decisions could be made if you prayed before committing yourself one way or another? Why or why not?
Do you have a major decision (or several) on the horizon? If so would you share what it is you are working on and have the group pray for you?
What do we learn from the choices that Jesus made for his first disciples?
If Jesus knew that Judas Iscariot was going to betray him, why did Jesus still pick him as one of his disciples?
Have you ever felt that the wrong or bad choice was made and yet things still worked out? Please share your illustration in some detail to the group
What does the phrase “unity in the midst of diversity” mean to you in light of what we have studied in Luke chapter 6?
Working as a team answer the question: What are the characteristics of a genuine follower of Jesus? Create a list together of the characteristics of a genuine follower of Jesus.

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