Faithlife Sermons

Nominal Disciples

Jesus Through the Eyes of...  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 2 views
Notes & Transcripts
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Series Review

These past several weeks we’ve looked at Jesus through the eyes of people who are very different from us, who saw things in Jesus that God’s people missed: a military oppressor recognized Jesus’ authority. A corrupt businessman recognized what true repentance looked like. A sinful woman understood that generosity reflects our belief in Jesus. The hypocritical leaders who executed Jesus understood that Jesus creates a serious disruption in the status quo.
This morning we will look at one of the Easter stories, and Jesus through the eyes of 2 nominal disciples.

Sermon Introduction

What do I mean when I refer to someone as a “nominal disciple?”
When I was pondering this question, I remembered...
“I’ve been here for a few years, and this is the first time we’ve met.” “I was married here for 30 years: doesn’t that make me a member.” This is what I call “nominal membership.” Membership in name only. No covenant vows, no covenant relation, just a single ceremony 30 years ago. Membership had been redefined. No beliefs or practices that I could see. No practices.
e.g. Friend in college; he was married, in grad school, we were seniors; you can’t be here…complaining about marriage; made us more patient; I am the head of the household - we were traditionalists; you are the figurehead of the household.
What do I mean when I refer to someone as a “nominal disciple?” The word “nominal” means “in name only.” I take the label but I distort the meaning of that label. I am the nominal leader of this church, but I don’t really have the authority to make decisions or give the direction to the church. That’s nominal leadership. A nominal Christian is someone who carries the name, but that’s it.
The word “nominal” means “in name only.” I have the label but not the reality. I take the label Christian - disciple of Jesus Christ - but not the reality.
I’m going to be reading a story about 2 disciples. When I was studying this story, I remembered a story told by a clergy colleague: my brother died, why does God hate me?
Not asking a theological question. He was expressing 3 things: he was seeing God as invisible, as absent. He was disappointed, to say the least (reasons). He was confused (closely related to #2).
Not just asking a theological question. What happens to the dead in Christ? What is the meaning of suffering as it relates to gods omnipotence and love.
These disciples had defined Jesus according to their expectations. Jesus would liberate a country from a military oppressor. Jesus didn’t do that, and they were disappointed. Jesus instead offered something far more liberating: salvation from the sickness and pain that comes with sin.
When we read the story of these 2 disciples, we will see these 3 things: the absence of God, disappointment and confusion. These are at the root of nominal discipleship.
I’m going to point out 3 things that can indicate nominal discipleship, or 3 things that are at the root of nominal discipleship:
I’m going to point out 3 things that can indicate nominal discipleship, or 3 things that are at the root of nominal discipleship:
Not experiencing Christ’s presence.
The wrong expectations of Jesus.
The wrong beliefs about Jesus.
Here’s how the story begins:
Luke 24:13–16 NIV
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
Notice here that Jesus is invisible.

Invisible

Luke 24:13–16 NIV
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
Luke 24:16 NIV
but they were kept from recognizing him.
Luke 24:
Have you ever been up close to someone and not recognize them?
I hate not recognizing people. There have been many times when I’ve introduced myself to people in this room, only to be informed that we met a few weeks ago. Thank you for your gracious response. At that moment I could say that I was kept from recognizing you.
I hate not recognizing people. There have been many times when I’ve introduced myself to people in this room, only to be informed that we met a few weeks ago. Thank you for your gracious response. At that moment I could say that I was kept from recognizing you.
Methodist pastors in the liquor store at the same time: they were kept from recognizing one another.
Still, when we feel like God is invisible, absent, no signs of his presence, we also need to ask ourselves, “Who has moved away?”
This is different. How could disciples not recognize their teacher? Not just a teacher, but their savior.
This is more than a question of not recognizing. They are being kept from recognizing. God is invisible.
Verse 16 says they were kept from recognizing him. Luke doesn’t say exactly why at this point, but he does later. He shows us that the reasons for Jesus’ absence was the disciple’s fault.
In my experience as a pastor, I witness a variety of pain. Tragic deaths. Slow, painful diseases. Broken, toxic relationships. The hardest part of these is not the pain. It’s when god is invisible.
Let me say this directly to those who are experiencing excruciating pain. Physical. Emotional. Spiritual. Like these two disciples, Jesus is walking right beside you, whether you recognize it. Embrace that this morning, because it is true.
Verse 16 says they were kept from recognizing him. Luke doesn’t say exactly why at this point, but he does later. Later on in the story we can find ways that God can become visible to us.
The story continues:
Luke 24:17–24 NIV
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
Luke 24:17-
The two disciples saw Jesus as...

Disappointing

we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.

A few years ago I received a request to officiate a wedding in the church sanctuary where I was serving. I told the woman, I would be happy to talk with you about that. I get to know the couple, allow them to get to know me, I talk about my rules or conditions for officiating a wedding, and we also go over church policies. They became very angry when they learned that there were fees for non-members. “I have been a member for 30 years!”
“I’ve been here for a few years, and this is the first time we’ve met.” “I was married here for 30 years: doesn’t that make me a member.” This is what I call “nominal membership.” Membership in name only. No covenant vows, no covenant relation, just a single ceremony 30 years ago. Membership had been redefined. No beliefs or practices that I could see. No practices. As a result of this redefinition of what it meant to be a member of the church, she was disappointed in the church. The church did not meet her expectations.
We can easily be disappointed in Jesus, if we expecting Jesus to be something He has never promised to be.
Luke 24:20–21 NIV
The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.
Luke 24:20-
These disciples had defined Jesus according to their expectations. Jesus would liberate a country from a military oppressor. Jesus didn’t do that, and they were disappointed. Jesus instead offered something far more liberating: salvation from the sickness and pain that comes with sin.
These disciples had defined Jesus according to their expectations. Jesus would liberate a country from a military oppressor. Jesus didn’t do that, and they were disappointed. Jesus instead offered something far more liberating: salvation from the sickness and pain that comes with sin.
The story continues...
Luke 24:25–27 NIV
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Luke 24:25-
not living up to expectations
not living up to expectations
The disciples also saw Jesus as...

Confusing

Luke 24:
Luke 24:25 NIV
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
I don’t like comparing the Bible to an owners manual. Gods how to book. The Bible is the living word of god, gods speaking to us. But there are some parallels.
I don’t like comparing the Bible to an owners manual. Gods how to book. The Bible is the living word of god, gods speaking to us. But there are some parallels.
Toilets repair. Trustees, let me help. I got this. Are you sure? I can help.
Jesus now explains to the disciples why they are disappointed. Why they are confused.
Reasons for not reading the Bible: I’m not a reader. It’s too hard to understand. God revealed through his written Word. The more we understand, the less we will be confused. It won’t eliminate problems. It won’t eliminate pain and confusion. But so much of our confusion comes from reading God’s word.
The story continues
Luke 24:28–32 NIV
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Luke 24:28–31 NIV
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.
Luke
Luke 24:38–42 NIV
He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
Luke 24:28–32 NIV
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So how does Jesus help them see? How does Jesus help them understand? In this story I see 2 ways: The Scriptures and eating at the table with Christ.

Through the Scriptures

Luke 24:32 NIV
They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
I don’t like comparing the Bible to an owners manual. Gods how to book. The Bible is the living word of god, gods speaking to us. But there are some parallels.
Toilets repair. Trustees, let me help. I got this. Are you sure? I can help.
To put this negatively, without the Scriptures disappointment will happen. Without the Scriptures, confusion will happen.
This is not just an individual matter, but group.

Through the Table

Luke 24:30 NIV
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.
holy communion; christ revealed.
Luke 24:32–35 NIV
They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
Luke 24:

Through the Scriptures

Luke 24:32 NIV
They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Luke 24:30–32 NIV
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
If the Scriptures are the best means to encounter Jesus, then Holy Communion is the next.
Imagine this is happening this morning. Experience more than a ritual. Commune with Christ.
Related Media
Related Sermons