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Key Bible Passages:    Matthew 24:14; Matthew 28:19 Mark 16:20; John 3:21-30; John 12:20;  Acts 5:34-39.

Key Issues:    The major focus of the lesson this week has to do with discipleship over the ages.  Certainly, even before Jesus came, people were attaching themselves to teachers so as to become their disciples.   In other words, Jesus act of having a group of people called disciples as apprentices under him was not something new.  But was it unique?  Or was it at least distinctive?  Or was it the same as discipleship in the Greek and Jewish communities?  Furthermore, what applications can be made from those early Christian days to our time?

1.A major line of thought for consideration has to do with the matter of “calling.”  Notice the particulars that follow:

a. In John 12:20, 21, we read the story of some Greeks who came to Jerusalem who initiated an attempt to meet with Jesus.   The biblical record does not indicate they ever did, for, after a few interchanges with the crowd, “Jesus left and hid himself from them.” (v. 36a).   This attempt seems to mirror the custom amongst the Greeks for students to seek out teachers by whom they wanted to be taught.  Jesus did not follow this practice.

b. History also tells that amongst the Jews, it was customary for students to seek out rabbis under whom they wanted to study then to apply for the privilege of becoming one of their disciples.  Saul, before he became Paul, was at one point the student of a famous Rabbi, Gamaliel.   Again, the initiative for discipleship rested with the student or the family.

c. John the Baptist drew many followers as the result of his preaching.   We have no record of whether he called them, or they came to follow him on their own.  We presume the latter.

d. From the very outset, Jesus method was different.  He went looking for disciples.  And when he found them, he asked them to leave of what they were doing to come follow him.  In almost every case, those who became his disciples did so by responding to a specific call extended by Jesus.

2. The call Jesus extended was quite simple to understand.  The fact that Jesus is now absent has complicated things some.    But the calling still goes one, even in our time. This matter of a calling has quite a few very significant implications that should be explored:

a. What function do you think this sense of calling provided for the disciples of Jesus.  Was it a help in times of trouble?  If so, how so?  how do you think it affected the self-perception of the disciples?

b. What role does God’s calling us play in our lives now?  How content do you think those are who have a sense that they are where God wants them to be when He wants them there doing what He would have them do?

c. Do you think there are some things we can do to enhance the prospects of God calling us?

d. The Bible speaks of the disciples leaving all to follow Jesus.  Did they simply abandon all their holdings to go?  Do you think that is what Jesus would have people do now?   What do you think “leaving all” looks like now?

3. We usually speak of this call as a singular entity, one call covers all.  But, it is actually more correct to speak of more than one calling, perhaps as many s 4:

a. The call to salvation that beams out from heaven care of the Holy Spirit, goes out to every human who has ever lived.  This call goes out without human initiative.  All evangelists do is create a link between this call and humans who do not know about it or who are resistant to it.

b. The call to service.  This is often an urgent thing, but non-specific, giving little to no indication where the sense of calling can be fulfilled.

c. The call to a particular task, such as prophet, pastor, teacher, or such.  In the minds of the people who receive this call, the task is quite clear.

d. The call to a place of service.  This usually comes by way of Providence, circumstances seeming to work together.

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