3 Marks of a True Disciple
3 Marks of a True Disciple
Luke 5. 1-11
So I am reading the newspaper last week and I read the story of a woman who went into Wal-Mart and bought more than one thousand dollars worth of goods. She went up to the checkout and when it came time to pay, what do you think she pulled out? Her checkbook? A credit card? A bunch of 20 dollar bills? No, when she paid the cashier she pulled out a million dollar bill! Needless to say, the cashier was a little taken aback, I mean, what is the change for that? 998,000 dollars counting change! There was only one slight problem with paying with a million dollar bill. There is no such thing as a million dollar bill, the U. S. Mint doesn't print them. When they arrested the lady she had a couple more million dollar bills in her purse. I wonder if she was going to go down to the local GM dealership and buy an SUV with one of her other million dollar bills. Now, I can think of some schemes to defraud people, but on the level of intellect this lady probably does not score so well. I assume she is now getting room and board at her local jail.
It's not too difficult to tell if a million dollar bill is genuine is it? If you have one, you know it isn't genuine because there is no such thing. When it comes to faith in Christ it is a little bit more difficult to judge isn't it. You guys know as well as I do that some people claim to be followers of Christ. They claim to be disciples, but they are not. They put on a good show and talk about being a Christian and know all the Christian lingo, but down deep inside their heart, they are not believers. They are not followers of Christ. I don't know you guys at all, but I suspect that one or two of you here, and maybe more are just like that. Trying to pass of as a follower of Christ, but you are not really. You are acting.
I want to go to a passage this evening where we get three clear marks of what a true disciple is. Christ is calling Peter to come and be his follower and in the process we see what a true follower of Christ looks like. So we can take this passage and hold it up like a mirror to ourselves and judge and say, “Am I a true follower of Christ?” “Am I a true disciple?” That is the question that I hope you answer in your own mind tonight, “are you, or are you not a true disciple of Christ.”
If you have your Bibles, open up to the book of Luke,. chapter 5. Luke 5.1. “Now it came about that while the multitude were pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them, and were washing their nets. And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the multitudes from the boat. And when He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but at Your bidding I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish; and their nets began to break; and they signaled to their partners in the other boat, for them to come and help them. And they came, and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus' feet, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon, And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.”
It's a pretty simple, straightforward story isn't it. Christ tells Peter to drop down the nets. He catches a bunch of fish. Christ tells him to come and be a “fisher of men,” and Peter and James and John leave everything and follow Christ. They become, at the very moment, disciples of Christ.
True Disciples Are Obedient
So, what do we have here that shows us what the marks of a true disciple are. First, true disciples are obedient. True disciples are obedient. Christ tells Peter where to fish. Now it is obvious that Christ is after Simon Peter, James, and John. They probably knew him from before and most likely they had even interacted with Christ, because Peter calls Christ, “Master,” so he obviously paid respect to him from having known and talked with him before this episode. But this is the crisis moment. This is when Christ is going to call him to be a disciple. Christ tells Peter, Listen, go out into the deep water and drop over your nets for a catch of fish.
Now, does Peter think this is a good idea? No. He actually thinks it is a silly idea. He says in essence, “Excuse me, Master, we have been out fishing hard all night and we have caught nothing, what makes you think that going out into the water now will bring any fish?” Think about this for a moment. What was Christ's trade? He was a carpenter. What was Peter's trade? He was a fisherman. In all likelihood, Peter was not only a fisherman, but he was the son of a fisherman, and probably the grandson, and probably the great-grandson. That is the way things worked back in those days. You became what your father was. Christ's father was a carpenter, Christ became a carpenter. So here you have a guy who is a professional carpenter, telling a professional fisherman how to fish! Can you believe that? It sounds crazy. Peter was an expert fisherman. He knew when to fish, where to fish, how to fish, he knew everything about fishing. Christ - on the surface at least - knew nothing about fishing. If you are a professional fisherman and a carpenter comes along and tries to tell you how to fish, what are you going to do? You're going to tell him to take a hike.
I am a professional airline pilot. The most demanding thing a pilot can do is fly the airplane in and land when there is lousy weather. To help him do that, in my aircraft you have these crosshairs that guide you in to land at an airport. They help you line up on the runway, and then fly the proper altitude down so that you land on the runway and not before it. They help keep you safe. It is as if, we are making attempts to land in Detroit in the midst of a blizzard, and we have made several attempts and we have failed. That happens sometimes because the visibility is too bad or the wind is blowing too hard, or both. We are just thinking about going somewhere else when we get a knock on the cockpit door. We open the door, and here is this guy standing there and he says, “listen, I am a carpenter and I suggest what you should do is turn off your flight director (those little crosshairs) and fly the approach to Detroit without them.” We ask him, “have you ever flown before?” No. “Do you know what the flight director does?” Uh, Nope. Just turn them off and you will be fine. I'll tell you what I would do. I would say, “Dude, you are crazy, go sit down and mind your own business.”
Fortunately, Peter does not do this. He obeys Christ. He obeys Christ because he has failed. He has tried fishing all night and caught nothing. So even though he knows this is a crazy idea, and you don't catch fish during the day, and they aren't around anyway, he figures it is worth a chance because he himself has failed. And right there is a lesson for us. You generally will not follow Christ until you have failed, until you sense your need for him.
So Peter obeys. He obeys. He drops down the nets and makes an incredible catch. So you see that the first mark of a true disciple of Christ is that they obey. God calls you, if you are to follow him, to obedience. Well, what do I obey? First and foremost, the commands of His word. He tells the disciples in John 15.10, “if you keep my commandments you will abide in my love.” That is the acid test of discipleship. Are you going to obey God, or are you not going to obey God. You cannot pick and choose either. A true disciple doesn't do that. “Well, I know that I shouldn't use the Lord's name in vain, so I won't do that, but even though God calls me, as a single person to be pure, I am not going to do that, because I don't want to.” Nope, its all or nothing for a true disciple.
I had a good friend several years ago call me up. He was in High School at the time, and he said, “John, I'm going to go off to Muskegon for the weekend with my girlfriend.” She is going to tell her mom, that she is at a friend 's house and we are going to go to Muskegon for the weekend. “I said, you can't do that. You claim to be a Christian, you know that is wrong, you are lying and deceiving and being impure all at once, do you expect God to bless those actions.” We went back and forth for some time and he remained adamant, so off he went for the weekend with his girlfriend. From that point, when he chose to consciously disobey Christ, his life went into a downward spiral for several years where he was not living with the Lord and had all sorts of difficulties, including marrying and divorcing this girlfriend.
True disciples are obedient all of the time. Not some of the time, not picking and choosing what they want to obey and what they don't want to. They are completely obedient.
So the question I lay before you guys this evening is, “are you obedient to all that Christ calls you to do?” or are you putting on a show for your Christian friends but then doing what you want to do. If you are living that way, I am here to tell you, you are not disciple of Christ.
True Disciples See Themselves As They Really Are
The second mark of a true disciple is found in verse 8. They make this huge, amazing catch of fish, so big that they have to call for help and their nets begin to break, so Peter gets to the shore and falls before Christ and says - and this really weird - “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Doesn't that strike you as a little weird. It seems to me that you would be running up and saying, “Lord, how did you know the fish were there? Did you see them? This is incredible. I am rich. Thank you for such a great blessing!” But Peter says, “I am a sinful man.” What does catching a great amount of fish have to do with one's state of sin?
In answering that last question, we have the second mark of a true disciple. True disciples see themselves as they really are. True disciples see themselves as they really are - and it ain't pretty.
Now I have no doubt that this is the greatest catch of fish that Peter has ever made; that he has ever seen; or that he has ever heard of. How do I know that? Because of his reaction. You don't see your sinfulness in catching a large amount of fish, unless it is such a large amount of fish that it borders on the miraculous. In essence, I suspect Peter's thinking went something like this. This is a VERY abnormal catch. You don't catch fish at all during the day, and I am catching fish during the day. You never catch this many fish in one place, and I am catching fish in this one place. Carpenters do not mysteriously know where huge, incredible, vast amounts of fish are...unless they are more than carpenters.
Look at Peter's use of terms. In verse 5, he calls Christ, “Master,” but after the great catch, he calls him, “Lord.” Something has changed hasn't it. Carpenters don't direct you to fish, but something that is greater than a carpenter certainly might. Peter immediately sees that Christ is no mere man. Now we don't know for sure that Peter fully understands here that Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God; he does understand that for sure later, but at least he understands that Christ is something beyond a normal man.
It is as if Christ has held a mirror up to Peter and all of the sudden, Peter says, in comparison to this man, I am nothing. True disciples seem themselves as they truly are.
It is would be as if you are in a gym shooting baskets at a hoop, and you are pretty good. You sink 10 free throws in a row, you do some layups, you sink a few three pointers, and you are feeling pretty good about yourself. Then this tall black guy walks in and says, “Hi, my name is Michael Jordan, do you mind if I shoot some baskets with you?” Then he proceeds to sink shots from all over the court, dunk, a few, and beat you 11-0 in one on one. So now what are you thinking? I know what I am thinking, “I stink.” I am a horrible basketball player when all of the sudden I am brought up against a really good basketball player.
This is what Peter sees here. He sees the hand of God working and he realizes that in comparison to Christ he is a sinful man. He is nothing but a mere, sinful man. And that is what we all are. That is what I am. That is what you are. That is what the world is like when we are set up against the standard of Christ. All of the sudden we understand the truth and say like Peter, “I am a sinful man.”
Do you see yourself as Peter say himself? Do you see yourself as a poor sinner, saved by God's grace? If you do, you are a true disciple of Christ. If you do not, you are still back in 2 Peter 3, awaiting God's judgment. You are sitting there right now saying, “I'm not so bad. I do my best and that is all God expects from me.” You are no disciple of Christ if you don't see yourself as Peter saw himself, if you don't see yourself as a sinner in need of God's grace. True disciples see that.
True Disciples Want Nothing But Christ
The third mark of a true disciple is found in verse 11. They get all these fish to shore. Everyone is filled with amazement, the professional fishermen are the ones who are most amazed because they know how extraordinary the catch is. They know what is going on. So Christ comes to Peter and says, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.” And then verse 11 says, “and when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.”
Now if you hear nothing else, I want you to hear this point, it is absolutely crucial. True disciples of Jesus Christ want nothing else but Christ. True disciples of Christ want only Him. Not Him and, but Christ alone.
To Peter, fish was money. This was the way he made his living and this is how he paid his bills to live. He traded fish for food and goods and services. And he has now caught the biggest catch of fish he has ever. In essence, he has won the lottery. No more worrying about how to pay his bills and how he is going to get money for food and clothing. He has it. He is going to be rich - in a relative sense. He is set.
And what does he do? What do he and James and John do? They left everything and followed Him! Can you imagine that? They are walking away from a great amount of money that will provide the things they need for life. Why in the world would they want to do that?
The answer is easy. They have found the pearl of great price. They have found that Jesus is worth more than any amount of money. There is a parable where Christ explains this very well. In Matt 13. 45,6 he says, “Again the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” That is Christ. Peter leaves everything else because above all else he wants Christ. This is the essence of following Christ. This is the litmus test. Do you want anything more than Christ? Than you are no disciple of his.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed on the direct order of Adolf Hitler for opposing him in Germany during World War II says this, “The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of the world.”
That is what Peter does, and that is what I am calling you to do tonight. Will you follow him. He will take nothing else than everything. He will take only a full commitment, leave all and follow him. Either Christ is Lord and Master of your life or He is not, there is no in-between. Are you going to abandon the attachments of the world and pursue Christ alone, or are you not? That is the acid test of discipleship.
Eric Liddell, who was portrayed in the film, “Chariots of Fire,” is the most famous athlete in the history of Scotland. He went to the 1924 Olympics in Paris to run the 100 meter dash. The finals were held on a Sunday, and Eric did not feel it was right for him to run a race on the Lord's day, so he refused to run. He gave up a chance for a gold medal - he had the fastest time of those that entered - because he said, “my faith is worth more to me than a gold medal and fame.” They entered Eric in the 400 meter dash instead and, amazingly, because this was not his distance, he won the gold medal in the 400 meters.
What Chariots of Fire did not reveal is that when Eric Liddell returned to Scotland, a hero, he finished his studies and then went to China as a missionary. He loved to run. He was fast. He was gifted at it. But more than that, He loved Christ, and Christ called him to go to China, and there he went. In 1928, the next time the Olympics came around, Eric could not go to the Olympic games, even though he had the fastest time in the world in the 100 meters that year, and the week of the Olympic games he ran a 100 meter race in China and finished with a faster time than the Olympic champion had at the 1928 Olympics. He could have won another gold, but he gave up all that chance for fame and fortune because his passion, his love, his desire, was Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters, don't settle for second best. Don't settle for the passing pleasures of this world when you can have Christ. Seek him and him alone. Leave all and follow him. True disciples, genuine disciples of Christ want him above all other things. Do you want him like that?
3 Marks of a True Disciple
I. Intro -
A. Million Dollar Lady
B. Christian? - Am I a true follower of Christ? A true Disciple
II. True Disciples are obedient
A. Read 5.1-11 and summarize (re-read vs. 4-5)
B. Christ and Fishing - Does Peter think it is a good idea?
Illus: Flying the Flight Director
C. Peter Obeys - Because he has failed
Lesson: You won't follow Christ until you see yourself as a failure
D. What do I obey? - His commands - John 15:10
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. (Acid test of discipleship)
Illus: Christ Ryan
E. Application - Are you obedient? All of the time?
III. True Disciples Stink
A. Read vs. 6-8
B. Peter says something really weird. Why? (Catch borders on miraculous)
1. Notice Peters terms “Master” vs. 5; “Lord” vs. 8
Illus: Basketball at a gym
C. What Peter is, is what we all are.
D. Application - Do you stink?
IV. True Disciples want one thing!
A. Read vs. 9-11
B. Peter - Fish = Money ; What do they do? Walk away from it all
C. Parable of Pearl Matthew 13:45-46
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,  who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
D. Application - Peter does it. Will you?
Illus: Eric Liddell