Jesus Calls and Equips Disciples
Description: Jesus called the Twelve to be disciplers. He has called us too! What can we observe from this passage that shows us how to disciple others?
Keywords: Gospel, Jesus, God, Luke, narrative, Son of God, Bible, Sermon, Bible Fellowship Church, BFC, Whitehall, Northern Lehigh
Date: January 31, 2016
Speaker: Pastor Tim
Scripture: Luke 6:12-19
Video: Watch this Sermon
Audio: Listen to this Sermon (time 36:27)
Notes: Read Sermon Notes
Transcript (new way)
1 “Jesus Calls and Equips Disciples” (Luke 6:12-19) PASTOR SCHMOYER: Friends, let’s turn to Luke chapter 6. If you’re using a pew Bible, you can find that on page 862. And we want to read Luke chapter 6 verses 12 through 19. Here Jesus picks the 12, and you might just picture this as sort of I already know that, kind of throw it away, check it in the filing cabinet, ignore it. But there is so much rich text, so many wonderful applications for how Jesus made disciples, and then turning towards us, how God wants us to make disciples of each other and of our community. And so we want to think today about being a discipler as Jesus was. Let’s read God’s word. Luke chapter 6 beginning in verse 12. “In these days Jesus went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, Jesus called his disciples, and he chose from them 12, whom he named apostles. Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. “And Jesus came down with them, and he stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be 2 healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.” May God bless to our hearing and to our spirit the reading of his Word. Friends, this morning we want to think about being a disciple of Jesus, and we want to think then about becoming a discipler for Jesus’ sake. So you’re always two things: You’re always a sheep, and God’s calling you to always also be a shepherd; to watch over people around you, but you yourself are also one of God’s sheep, one of his flock; that you are both his disciple and you are a discipler of other people. Jesus here calls 12, and so I want to think with you about what it looks like for us to be called, to be appointed by him to go out and to affect other people. For Jesus really has called us. He said to us, “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you. Go into all the world, make disciples of all the nations. Go and preach the good news to all creation.” And so there is this mission mandate that God has for each one of us. If you call yourself his follower, then you are called by him to seek followers for yourself. Not that they imitate you, but as Paul said, “Imitate me the way that I imitate Christ.” And so we’re all called to this; you are all called to 3 be a leader. This doesn’t mean that we’re all going to become professional pastors, but in our efforts and in our lifestyle and in the words that we say and in the things that we don’t say, the jokes that we don’t laugh at and the jokes that we do tell; in all that we do and all that we are he has called us to affect the people around us. And so let’s think about how Jesus has called us and equipped us as his disciples to be disciplers. The first lesson. If you’re going to join Christ in becoming a discipler, the first thing that we see is just a little nugget in verse 12, just a real short thing. “He went up to the mountain to pray.” And while we just are very accustomed to verses like this: He went away to a lonely place to pray, and the crowds followed him and he couldn’t get away from them, they kept following. As we see this repeated theme of Jesus pulling himself aside just to be with the Father, just to commune with God, just to pray with the trinity, Jesus shows us something that we so often miss because we read the scripture so quickly and so carelessly. Listen to me. Before Jesus called his 12 he went to a lonely place to pray. There’s something so intimate about prayer, there’s something so powerful, that God really does affect our hearts when we’re still enough to pray. When was the last time you were actually still? When 4 was the last time you could actually talk to your Heavenly Father without a thousand things racing through your mind? See, it takes discipline to be still. In our busy culture, in our fast-paced society it takes real discipline to get away, to be quiet, to be still. And Jesus did that. Before he made his important decision he talked to the Father. He had a mission update with his Heavenly Father. “He went in those days to the mountain to pray.” I would invite you to have a mountain. I’m not necessarily thinking of physical mountain, but I’m thinking a place where you get away. Maybe it’s just in your home. Jesus elsewhere talked about when you pray, don’t pray in the middle of the street where everyone can laud and honor you for your nice, novel prayer. He says no. Go instead to your closet and pray. And so some of us might have some space in our house. Perhaps it’s called a prayer closet. Just to be by yourself and pray. One of the things that most affected me in my childhood was when my father gave up smoking. And he went to his sanctuary of his church, he talked to the pastor earlier and arranged for him to be able to come to the sanctuary and be by himself and pray. And I remember sitting in the back while he was in the front row, and he was kneeling and crying and begging the Lord, “Help me. I tried this in my own strength; it doesn’t work. Help me.” 5 And I would just invite you. Maybe if you don’t have space, if your house is too rambunctious and you need a mountain, let the church, let this holy room be your mountain. Maybe it’s a literal mountain. Maybe you’re going to go on a hike on a regular basis and just go up some mountain and just pray and just be by yourself with the Lord and talk, and all of life’s agendas you left back home. You didn’t even bring your Daytimer to that mountain because you were going to meet with your Father. Listen, the word says again and again, pray without ceasing, pray at all times, in everything give thanks. Well, what is that? That’s prayer. God wants us to be a praying people. Later in Luke’s gospel, I’m stealing my own thunder, but really frankly we’re not getting to it for like two more years. In chapter 19 he tells the story of a persistent widow that went to the judge and begged the judge for justice, and Jesus ends that story and says your Heavenly Father is not like that judge. When you come to him again and again and again, it’s not as if he’s ignoring you like that wicked judge ignored the need of the widow. It’s that your Heavenly Father is teaching you to regularly, persistently come to him in prayer. And too many of us have wrapped ourselves around God’s sovereignty, and we’ve said I’ve asked him three times and 6 he hasn’t answered me yet, so he must think the answer should be no, and so I’m done asking him for the salvation of my husband or my wife, for the salvation of my child I’m done asking him. I’ve given up all hope that that coworker is going to be kind to me. I’ve given up all hope that my financial situation is going to change because I asked God three, five, ten times, and he hasn’t delivered, and so I’m just going to bear with it. We wrap ourselves in God’s sovereignty, and that is not an accurate picture of God’s sovereignty. God, the all-sufficient, all-powerful, all-compassionate is ready to answer, but he wants to teach us to come persistently, continually, ongoing, pray without ceasing. Before Jesus made this big decision he talked to his Father. And so I would encourage you, if you are going to join Jesus in discipling other people, find a mountain, find a place to pray, talk to your Lord regularly, stay close to your Father. Listen, what did Jesus teach us? John chapter 15. My Father is the vinedresser. I’m the vine, you guys are my branches. You need to abide in me if you’re going to bear any kind of fruit. And what does he say? For apart from me — what does he say? You can do nothing. He doesn’t say you might be able to do something. He says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” And friends, let me just challenge 7 you, stay close to your Father, stay close to him in prayer, and you will be able to accomplish things for him. As we think of this point, staying close to the Father, I’d ask you to just grab your connection card. You’ve torn it out of the bulletin, and there’s this big section called my decision, and the first thing it says, “In response to God’s Word today:” Maybe just staying close to the Father is resonating with your heart, you’re recognizing I need to be closer with my Heavenly Father. And so maybe today God is just saying to you, you need to set aside time, friend, to talk with him, to reflect on him, to be with him and commune with him, and so this week you’re going to reflect on the character of God in prayer. What that looks like is, God, I’ve been thinking about how holy you are, and I just want to thank you for being a holy God. I want to thank you that you don’t let me get away with my sins, that you are paying attention, that you are holy and you call me to be holy. I just want to thank you for your holiness, and now help me to be holy, empower me by your Holy Spirit that I can be the way that you are. And so it’s just reflecting on a piece of his character. So maybe it’s holiness. Maybe you’re going to reflect on his love; maybe you’re going to reflect on his power; maybe you’re going to reflect on he knows all things or he’s all wise. Pick some quality of God and reflect on 8 that and thank him for that and pray in that regard. This will help you stay close to your Heavenly Father. We want to transition now to our second idea: “equip future disciplers.” Notice in verse 13, as soon as he comes down, when day came — so he prayed all night, and he came down when day came, he called his disciples, and he chose from them 12 whom he named apostles. The grammar of this is very important, because the grammar of this shows us that Jesus has more than 12 disciples. Now, I grew up in Sunday School, going every Sunday to church, and I remember the flannel board, and here’s Jesus. What’s he wearing on the flannel graph, what’s he wearing? White robe, blue sash. That’s what Jesus wore. Look it up, second opinions 5:19. It’s there. But the flannel graph, that’s what he’s wearing. Every time, every teacher, they’re always wearing the same thing. And then you have this other blob of flannel with four robes and 12 heads, right? Because they kind of do it three-dimensionally. So you’ve got the 12 disciples, and they’re all wearing different color robes. None of them is wearing white and blue. That’s Jesus. And so here are the 12, here’s Jesus. And my teachers always said, here are the 12 disciples. But what does verse 13 say? “He called his disciples, and from them he chose 12.” What does this share about Jesus? He had a multitude 9 of disciples, he’s making disciples of all kinds of people, and now he said, I need 12 to be my apostles, 12 to be leaders of the leaders, and so he picks 12 to be with him. And you can just look at the list here. Simon named Peter, Andrew, James, John, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. In every gospel Peter is always the first one listed, James and John and Andrew are always at the top. Who’s always the last? CONGREGATION: Judas. PASTOR SCHMOYER: Judas Iscariot. And almost all of them say he’s the one that would become the traitor. So you’ve got a hierarchy among the 12, and then you have other disciples that aren’t part of the 12. And I guess I want to encourage you, and here’s what I’ve got for you: Jesus knows you. He knows you by name, you’re unique to him. He cares about you and your unique problems and your unique joys. He celebrates with you in heaven over those joys. And God has many disciples. But it would do no good if Jesus sent out the 5,022.5 apostles, right? So he needed sort of 12 to really invest deeply in. If you’re the 13th or the 17th and you’re not one of the 12, the only encouragement I have for you is he hasn’t forgotten you. You’re not disregarded by him. And I think this text shows that. That here are these disciples, they’re all walking with him, they’re all following him, he 10 knows each one of them by name. Just like a good shepherd knows each one of his sheep, he knows when one, the 99th or the hundredth is missing; 98, 99 — where’s Curly? And he goes out and he seeks you, he goes and he finds you and he brings you back. He cares for each one of us by name. God is a God that cares, God is a God who invests in individuals. And I just want you to realize, in your devotional time, which is so important. If your only meal is Sunday morning, you’re malnourished. And if your only time in God’s Word is Sunday morning, you are spiritually malnourished. He wants to feed you at all times; he wants to direct your steps at all times. He wants to plug his truth and his character into you. You might think, well, I’m not one of the 12, so I’m not important to him. Oh, you’re so important to him. He has things to do in you and through you. He wants to make other disciples through you. He wants to change the world through your life. If you’d only say yes, here I am. I’m your disciple, here I am. I’m Curly, I’m ready to do business with you, Father. He does pick 12, and he assigns them this holy task of leadership, of apostleship. From the disciples he chooses 12, and he names them apostles. So there are many, numerous disciples, there are 12 apostles. And never think that 11 there’s only 12 disciples. There’s many, many, many disciples. And he’s not discarding the 100 or 500 that are with him and discarding them and only going with the 12. No. He’s investing in all of them at all times. And so what we see through this picking, this gleaning, this appointment, what we see is that Jesus is going to equip disciplers. See, he gives them a new office, apostle. This word “apostle” means sent out, and so these people are sent out to do the same thing that he’s been doing. He’s been investing in individuals, teaching them truth, drawing them back to the Father, and so now he’s sending out the 12 to do the same thing. In Luke’s gospel he sends them out multiple times. He sends out the 12 two by two, but he also sends out 70, right? So there are multiple sendings of Jesus. He names these folks apostles, which means to be sent out. And my encouragement to you is you’re not a capital A apostle, but in some general generic sense we are all lower-case A apostles. He has sent us out to make disciples. He said go from Jerusalem to Judea, Judea to Samaria. And then where are we supposed to go after that? The uttermost parts of the earth. And so here we are halfway around the world in Whitehall, and we have been affected by those who have been sent out, and now in our generation we’re the ones that are sent to those who are 12 still unreached. Who’s unreached at your workplace? Who’s unreached in your neighborhood? Who’s unreached, students, at your school? Jesus wants to use you to disciple them. Would you be a tool in Jesus’ toolbox? Would you be moldable and pliable, ready to be used by him? Up on the screen you’re going to see a little picture. I think this might help us. Hopefully you can see that. Jesus always wants to take people from the outside and bring them closer to the inside. We see this in this passage, because what do we see in verse 13? He takes from his disciples 12. And so what I think is going on is all of his disciples are the center-most white ring. They are committed. They’ve left everything behind to follow Jesus. He was walking down the path and he would heal someone, and you saw that event and you said, this surely must be the one we’ve been waiting for. I’m going to give up my life and follow him. You’re already committed. And from those committed disciples he now brings a few of them to the inside and says, you’re my core. You’re my team, you’re my leaders, you’re my 12 apostles. Jesus always wants to be bringing people from the outside to the inside, and in verse 13 we see people moving from committed to core. I would just ask you to think about this. Where on 13 that map are you? Where in those concentric circles are you right now? Jesus wants to bring you one step closer, one step deeper, one step closer into a walk with him, and until you’re done on this earth, that is God’s project in you. And also then that’s your project for people around you: taking people who are in the community, bringing them into the church; people that are at the church but have never made a profession of faith into the congregation, born again, saved, baptized; people part of the congregation to become committed workers in his kingdom. And so we’re always drawing people to take another step deeper in him. In our report book there’s a page on statistics, and I told the people last night I’m a statistics junky; I kind of like just thinking and playing. And you know the one saying that 45 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot; 37 percent of all people know that. So that’s what you can do with statistics. But these are some fairly accurate statistics. We have a count every week of who all is here, and we also keep track of people that are just part of our influence, but they’re really part of the community. They’re not really, really being affected by the church, they’re not part of the congregation. These are folks that come to Luke’s Closet or they might come to a special event at the church, a concert, or they’ll drop their kids off at AWANA, but they’re not 14 really being discipled by the church; and here’s what I invited the folks last night and I’ll invite you to think about. There are people that are in that outer circle, people in your neighborhood that maybe don’t even know this congregation exists, and what can you do, how can God use you to bring that person from Whitehall community into the crowd of Whitehall church? And so in the Whitehall church crowd, there’s 816 people in the crowd. Now look around. Just go ahead and look around. Ignore me, look around. There aren’t 816 people here, are there? And in Jesus’ day there weren’t 816 committed followers of Jesus Christ in that crowd, but there were people curious, people investigating. And so how can you take someone from the community and make them part of the crowd? How can you help someone that’s in the crowd, they’re not here this morning but they’re part of the influence and reach of our church, how can you bring them into the congregation, into the family? And just be brainstorming, think with me about discipleship, bringing people from outside inside. Maybe you’re really resonating with this; I’m here on this earth to affect people, to invest and care for and train up the next generation or people in my own generation that maybe are a part of the outside but I need to bring them closer inside and you just like this word investment. 15 Jesus said, “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures here on earth. Moths eat away, dust and rust corrode, thieves break in and steal.” Where are we supposed to store up our treasures? Don’t store up your treasures here on earth, Jesus said. Where are we supposed to store up our treasures? In heaven. Store up your treasures in heaven where thieves don’t break in and steal, rust and dust and moths don’t corrode and eat away. And so investment, investing in people, because people are the only thing that will last forever, people. And they’re either going to spend eternity with God in his heaven or spend eternity far from God in the place that we call the lake of fire. And so be thinking about how I can help people, how can I invest in people. Maybe that’s really resonating with you. Now, Jesus invested in these 12. Twelve is a lot. Let’s just go halfway, let’s meet each other halfway. And not even halfway, I’m not even asking you to go halfway on this. Half would be six. Let’s just go with five. Five is a lot of people throughout the week to just call someone, right? Or just go out for coffee with someone and pray with them. Maybe pick them out at church, and how can I help you? How can I invest in you? And just think of five people that God wants you to shepherd, to disciple, to equip, to train up. 16 And man, if we all just picked five people, throughout the month I’m going to be working on these five people. I’m going to help them. Maybe it’s someone that’s in our reach but they’re not here on a regular basis on Sunday morning, they’re not here at all on a Sunday morning but they’re in the Whitehall reach, and how can we help people come closer to Jesus? That’s what it’s all about; that’s what it’s all about. “I’ll identify five people,” the connection card says, “that I can consistently invest in.” Finally, our last idea beginning with verse 17. “Jesus came down with his disciples,” verse 17 says, “and he stood on a level place with them. There was a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon.” What do we see from verses 17 through 19? We see that Jesus goes where the people are. Jesus doesn’t stay up on the mountain. No. He comes down. He doesn’t elevate himself and project himself, he doesn’t make himself more important than he is, although Jesus is the most important person that there ever was or ever will be. He came down to be with folks. Now, the only reason I’m up on a platform is the people in the back really don’t see me too well right now. I’m a tall guy, but people’s heads are in front of me. So we go up on the platform not because we’re better or high and 17 lifted up or exalted. I am not the reverend, although I mean that is a title I have. But I’m not to be revered. I’m not higher than you. And Jesus here in verse 17 came down on a level place to be with his people. What do we observe from this stepping down? We see that the king of the universe comes down to be with folks. And I guess we need to kind of embrace that for ourselves. There is great danger among the church, especially as the heat of isolation and the heat of Christian persecution around the world comes to a boil, the temptation is going to be let’s pull out, let’s be safe, let’s be among each other; and so we’ll do things like church socials and we’ll do things like Bible studies and we’ll do things like prayer meetings and we’ll start things like evening worship gatherings. Why? Because we’re going to spend all our time with each other where it’s safe, where we love each other, where there’s no problems, and we’re just going to be isolated on our own with ourselves. And while it is good to be with each other, the Psalmist says, “How blessed it is when I heard them say to me, let us go to the house of the Lord.” It is a blessed thing, it is a wonderful thing to be with each other. But Jesus goes out, Jesus goes with, Jesus brings people together. And in verse 17 that’s exactly what we see. We see Jesus coming down to be with them on a level 18 place. I, the king of the universe, am with you, my people. I love you; I’m investing in you; I’m going to spend my life with you; and I’m going to give my life for you. In the scripture there’s only one time I see in the gospels where Jesus is lifted up. Do you know when that is? CONGREGATION: The cross. PASTOR SCHMOYER: Jesus said it in John chapter 3. He said to Nicodemus, “If the Son of man be lifted up, he will draw all people to himself.” What was he talking about? CONGREGATION: The cross. PASTOR SCHMOYER: The cross. In his teaching ministry, in his healing ministry, in his time on earth with people, he comes down, he’s with them. That’s why he gets in trouble with the Pharisees and Sadducees, because he dares to be with the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the gluttons, and the drunkards and the sinners. They say, “Why would you be with them?” He says, “I came to seek and to save the lost. I came as the physician to actually heal the sick. I came to be with those who need me on a level place.” I guess I would encourage you to think about where people are in your life, in your time. And you might think it’s going to be hard to be with people. Let me tell you, for most of us we spend at least 40 hours a week with all sorts of people. What do we call that? Work. And you 19 might think of work as your paycheck. You might think of work as an inconvenience. You might think of work as, oh, I get to be away from the kids, from my wife or my husband, I get to be away from all that headache. And I want you to think of work as 40 hours of week where you’re with people. Now, yes, we have to do our task; yes, we need to crank out the widgets; yes, we need to be a benefit to our employer; but there’s time and there’s space in those 40 hours that we can actually be with people. And Jesus comes down to be with people. I would encourage you to think about when and where in your life do you have time and space to be with people. Maybe it’s just during the lunch hour, maybe it’s just once a week you’re going to take one other person out for lunch. It’s going to cost you six, seven bucks. “I want to take you out to lunch today, let’s go.” And you go out and you talk and you learn about their life, your learn about their family, learn about their struggles. “Can I pray about that? Would it be all right if we just stopped right now and I prayed about that with you right here, right now?” And more often than not someone is going to say, “Yeah, you can do that for me.” And if they say no, you say, “Well, can I at least pray about that throughout the week?” And most people will — if they say no, I don’t want you to pray right now, that’s embarrassing, “Yeah, I’ll let you pray about that for me throughout the 20 week.” Where we’re being with people where people are, investing in people. Jesus called us to be disciple-makers. How are you making disciples? The last thing on the connection card, I just want you to wrap your head around your purpose in life. And I think it says something like, this third decision point, I think it says something like God made me in order to bless people. Is that true? You exist, he created you in order to bless people. You know, Jesus came down from heaven, came down to earth to be with people, and then he came down from the mountain to be with the people, and throughout his life he’s always spending time with other people. God made you to be with people, he made you to bless and help some other person, and maybe this week you need to decide, I’m actually going to live out my purpose, I’m going to live out my purpose. Maybe you just need to, as an offering to the Lord, as an act of worship, I’m checking this check box, King Jesus, because I am going to start doing what you created me to do, to bless and to help other people. For he came down from the mountain to teach them, yes, but then also to heal their sick and to cast off the unclean spirits. He came to cure them, he came to allow them to touch him, to feel his power and come into their life and to give them hope and to give them direction. Friends, I want you to live among people, to give 21 people a handshake, to give people a hug, to greet each other with a holy kiss. Yes, the scripture says to do that by the way. I don’t want you making out, but give each other a little peck, a little holy kiss. Or as we do, we’re recovering Mennonites, we give each other a holy handshake. All right? Greet each other with a holy handshake. Do something. Let people touch you, let people feel your love; and maybe you’re the only person all week that they’re actually going to touch, and that’s a beautiful, powerful thing to bless them. Friends, let’s wrap it up in prayer. God, we have spent this time exalting your holy name; we have spent this time beseeching you for help through prayer; and we’ve spent this time sitting under your Word; being with you, learning what you did to make disciples, and learning how we can make other disciples. It begins with us being more regular in our prayer time, and we all confess we could talk with you more regularly. And then, Lord, how you called out to invest in certain individuals, not that you didn’t care for the others but you needed to create a movement, and that required training up leaders. Help us to train up people. Maybe in our ministry team we need to recruit more leaders, not just workers, so that to the next generation we could pass the baton. Maybe it’s in just my own life just training up people to care for 22 them, and maybe someone decided I’m going to pick five people to really invest in and care for and train. Maybe it’s just being more intentional about our time, not wasting our time on ourself but investing in people, being where people are, caring for people in their circumstance. God, help us to do these things for your glory. And as we check those off, it’s an act of worship. We’re laying this at your throne, and we’re saying this is what we want to do based on your Word this morning. Help us to put these decisions into action this week. And now, Lord, as we close our time in prayer and as we go our separate ways we’re thinking about people in our community that do not yet know Jesus. And maybe there’s someone here in this room that doesn’t yet know, if I would die this very moment, I know where I would spend the rest of my eternity, and maybe there’s someone here that doesn’t yet know the joy of having peace with God. The scripture says we no longer have enmity with God. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. And I know where I would go if I should die this moment, and that person next to you knows where they would go, but maybe you don’t know because you’ve never made peace with God. I have good news for you. You don’t need to make peace with God. God has already done everything necessary. He sent his Son to die on the cross to pay the punishment of my sin and your 23 sin. His blood washed me clean, and his blood can make your soul clean as well. You who have done so many things that God says that is not what a godly person does; that is not what holiness looks like; and you know and I know that we’ve all done wrong, and God is here to forgive you. He’s here to wash you white as snow, he’s here to clean up that stained soul, and would you today ask him, Jesus, I need your forgiveness. I’ve done wrong; I’ve sinned against God; and I need you to wash me white as snow. Come into my life and forgive me, give me the gift of eternal life. I believe that you died for my sin; I believe you were buried; and yet three days later I believe you rose again; and I believe you can give life to this soul. Would you give me eternal life? Friend, if you pray with Jesus and talk seriously about those needs that your soul has, he is quick and ready, that is the first prayer that will ever be answered. He is ready and willing to forgive those who pray in faith. Welcome to God’s family if you’ve prayed that prayer. Lord, as we conclude our time in song would you rejoice as your people rejoice in your goodness, and we’ll give you all praise. In Jesus’ name. Amen.