Who Does Jesus Say We Are?
In the last weeks Pastor Chris has embarked to show you from Philippians some of the things that God delights in (the Pleasures of God) as an aid for us to delight in God more. So, when I heard that I had the opportunity to preach, I wanted to continue on that theme, but I didn't want to go ahead on Philippians and steal that from Chris, and I didn't want to review a passage he had already preached. So I started looking for a passage to preach this morning wanting to find something that continued our theme of delight in God. However, I was also burdened to share with you something else. I want to show you in a little time what being a Christian means according to Jesus and then add my voice in with Pastor's to beg you to exchange your shame for glory in light of Jesus' words. So, if you'd please get a Bible open and your finger on the page at the beginning of verse 25 we'll be ready to start.
What's a Disciple?
What's a Disciple?
So, again, what I'm trying to show you this morning is what being a Christian means according to Jesus. The first thing that you'll notice is that the word Christian isn't used here in our passage, the word Luke records Jesus saying is "disciple." Now, this presents a problem to us. This is a problem because our modern vocabulary doesn't use that word as "Christian." We use the word disciple as a "super-christian." We use it to describe someone who is extra on fire for God, and extra committed to doing His will. *We use it as something to attain to, not to describe something that we already are.* However, this isn't the way that Jesus is using this word; Jesus is describing with "disciple" what we would describe with "Christian." I'm not just going to say that though, I want to show you. So flip with me to a few other verses in Acts.
When we go to figure out the meaning of a word we need to be careful never to read the later meaning of the word into an older usage. So we don't want to take our concept and read it into this passage, we need to figure out what Jesus meant then. And the way we do that is by looking at how the word gets used else where in the Bible. In other words, a word is defined by it’s usage. I pick Acts because it's the other work of Luke, so we have the same author here. When we see this word used post-cross in Acts it sheds light on what Jesus meant here in Luke pre-cross.
- *"And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples..."* The Apostles aren't calling the good Christians together and leaving out the other ones, they're calling everyone together.
- *"And the word of God continued to increased and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem..."* The disciples multiplying aren't mature believers, no one had been a Christian more than a few weeks!
- *"And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple."* Paul isn't trying to get in with the super Christians but they aren't sure he belongs yet. The Christians aren't sure he's not there to kill him!
- *"And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians."* This is the first time that believers are called Christians, "little-Christs." It's outsiders calling them this (they "were called" passive voice). They aren't making a distinction between mature and immature believers.
- *"Therefore, as you go make disciples of all nations...teaching them to obey."* Jesus wants us to make mature believers, but the disciples he wants us to make here are the same disciples he tells us to "teach to obey!
This doesn't mean that there aren't mature and immature Christians. shows us this plainly. There are those who should be having milk, those who should be having solid food. We should grow up. I'm not saying that isn't true; all I'm saying here is that this word disciple doesn't talk about only mature Christians, what we should attain to be, it's talking about any Christian, who we are *now*! So here in Jesus is talking about you and me! Christians, and the word He is using is “disciple.”
So my plea to your this morning is to act like the disciples that you are! **Act the way your dressed.** This is precisely what Pastor Chris is saying by "shame for glory." You already are made glorious, God made you a new creation, a disciple. But you aren't living like what God made you, you're trying to resurrect your old sinful man that God killed on the cross and live as him again. I beg you, don't do that! Jesus didn't make us like that, but he will tell us here what he did make us. So let's dive into this passage finally.
A Disciple Prefers God to Everyone Else
A Disciple Prefers God to Everyone Else
Jesus is going to give us two qualifications here in vv. 26-27 for what a disciple is. He gives us one that is how a disciple relates to God, and another in how a disciple relates to the world. Here's the first one in v. 26.
**Read v. 26**
Now, this can be confusing because Jesus gives us these qualifications in the negative; here He uses the word "hate." And we get confused because we don't really get why Jesus would tell us to hate all these people that we love so much. I'm sure you've heard it explained that it doesn't really mean to hate these people. He has to state it in the negative for it to make sense to us because there isn’t words to describe the positive of how delightful God is. Jesus uses experiences that we have, all these pleasant, intimate, enjoyable, satisfying relationships, and tells us that a disciple of him prefers God so much to them that the correct vocabulary would be hate. It's like this:
I got married this summer to Maddie, which you all know. Now, at that wedding were lots of people, there were even some people we didn't invite! And some of these random people came up to me and they gave me a hug and they said "congratulations Nathan" and I said "thank you" and they said "we'll see you mean, I love you." and I said "love you too." Now, later that day when Maddie and I got out of the hot weather and into our car to drive north to our honeymoon and leaned over and gave her a kiss and said "I love you." The love that I have more Maddie versus that random guy at my wedding are so far apart the same word really shouldn't even be used. That's not at all the same concept. Jesus is telling us that the same is true of even our closest, best relationships, when we are disciples of Him. We desire and delight in God so much that the chasm between our love for God and our love for our families don't deserve the same concept, in fact those concepts are so far separated, they are as separated and love and hate.
Now, think about how satisfying the relationships that Jesus talks about are. He's saying that our relationship with God should be *so* good that as close as the best of friends are, as intimate as a husband and his wife are, as satisfying as a parent raising a child is, our relationship with God is even better and more delightful! That's what God is offering you. Not a vague ethereal barely tangible relationship. Jesus stretched His arms out on the cross so that you could be intimate with him, not far off. This is Jesus qualification for how disciples of Him relate to God. This is a stark contrast from how the Pharisees related to God in His day. Jesus is talking about something totally different and oh so much more fulfilling! This is a relationship so good that it eclipses even our closest relationships on earth, so sweet that it overshadows our most intimate moments, so satisfying it leaves us wanting nothing. *This* is how Jesus says His disciples relate to God; and brothers and sisters, this is how *you* relate to God. And this is really important so watch this is verse 26.
Now to make it really clear, what Jesus is *not* communicating here is that His disciples *ought* to be this way. That's true. It's true that we ought to prize God above every other person, it is a moral command to us based on the excellency of God to esteem Him most excellent from among the many less excellent things around us. However, that's not what Jesus is saying here. It comes from that little word "cannot." "He cannot be my disciple." This issue of preferring God is not one of moral imperative, but of basic ability. I hate referencing the greek, but it's way clearer than the ESV in this passage. It says ου δυναται ειναι μου ματητης. Most literally that would be "he is not able to be my disciple." That word *dunatai* is the word Jesus uses when he says "all *power* has been given to me in heaven and on earth..." The one who does not relate to God in this way does not have the ability to be Jesus' disciple. So the encouragement here is that we, by God's *huge* grace have been made this way! This is true, in some measure for you.
However, we spend our lives piling junk over the pearl that God has given us. We act like this as disciples. We find the pearl of great price, and we sell everything to get it because God enables us in conversion to finally see him as incredibly satisfying. What conversion *is* is God making us like *this*! But then we pile over this pearl our desire for cars, and clothes, and houses, and vacation homes. We pile over pride, and then shame, and then fear, and then doubt, until we start looking for this pearl and it seems gone. That very likely is you this morning. You hear this, and you hear me say this is you, and you think "Nathan, if that's conversion, I'm not sure I've had it! I don't usually feel like I love God so much it eclipses every other relationship. I don't really feel like he's my singular priority in life." And I'm not trying to scare you with that. I believe and pray that most in this room have been given the gift of conversion by God's grace, but I also believe that most if not all of us find ourselves digging through everything we've piled over this pearl so that we aren't living like the disciple God made us. Exchanging your shame for glory means throwing away all of the things you've piled over the pearl and holding on for dear life to the singular passion of God. And through the waves of life, when it seems like it might not be worth it, when watching others starts to convince you that you want what they have instead of this pearl, acting like a disciple means holding on for dear life and looking up at God, the tears of loss and grief on your face and saying "I just want more of you!"
So what should we do? How do we make this more true? I have just two suggestions because we don’t have much time, and I could talk about this for the rest of the weekend!
1. Ask for it. Jesus tells us that we have not because we ask not. Jesus tells us that when we ask, seek, and knock, God gives it to us. Jesus tells us to ask over and over and over again because our Father knows how to give good gifts. So if you earnestly desire this, ask for it. If you don’t earnestly desire it, ask to earnestly desire it!
2. Love is commitment. This is why all through the Bible God relates to us in covenants. This is why the most loving relationship mankind has, marriage, happens in a covenant. Love’s main ingredient isn’t romance or feelings, it commitment to another person “for better or for worse.” So, find every way you can to show that your allegiance is to God no matter the cost every second of every day. Let it cost you something! Sometimes our faith is only as valuable to us as what we pay for it. If you don’t ever hurt or suffer for God, your faith might only be worth the good you give credit to Him for. But if you sacrifice for him, you’ll find your commitment and love grow, and this kind of prioritized relationship will happen for you.
Willing to Die
Willing to Die
So, this is how Jesus tells us that his disciples necessarily relate to God. But, he gives us another qualification. It’s about how His disciples relate to the world. And they relate to the world this way:
**read v. 27**
Jesus tells us to be like dead men walking. Our modern