First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, February 6, 2022)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“Come, Follow Me!”
Several months ago, as I began praying and thinking about this year, a few words, a few concepts, kept coming to my mind. I made a list of those words that kept coming back to me. My list included “pursuing God” and “drawing near to God”. If you had the chance to attend worship or join our livestream these past four Sundays, I delivered a few messages on pursuing God and drawing near to Him in the New Year.
The list of words that kept coming to me includes another important word that I circled and highlighted many times; a word that I wrestled with, but it wouldn’t leave me alone. It is the word “Discipleship!” Discipleship is an important concept in our Biblical vocabulary, and it deserves our attention. I truly believe that God wants this congregation to learn what this word means, to discover its power, and it make it a reality in our daily lives. Therefore, over the next few weeks, we will be revisiting our understanding of discipleship.
Discipleship! What is Discipleship?
The word “disciple” comes from a classroom setting. It literally means “student” or “learner.” In Jesus’ day, young people didn’t go to colleges because there weren’t any colleges back then. You become a lawyer when you study under an experienced lawyer. You become a physician when you follow and learn from a physician. You become a Rabbi when you get religious education under a professional Rabbi.
So it was very usual and common that the few people who followed Christ were called “His disciples.” So a disciple is a follower. A disciple is a person who is both committed to their teacher and to a certain lifestyle according to their own calling. For three and a half years, the first disciples followed Jesus up and down Galilee, watching, listening, observing, and asking questions. Jesus had a three-fold plan for training His disciples: First, learning by watching. Second, learning by doing. Third, learning by teaching others.
When Christ called His disciples, “Come, follow me,” they knew exactly what this entitled. They knew they are about to embark on a journey of formation and transformation. They knew that their curriculum is the life of Jesus Christ Himself. They knew their ultimate goal was to imitate their teacher. They knew the blessings as well as the hardships down the road. They knew it’s both a tremendous privilege and a great responsibility. So as we scratch the surface of this topic this morning, please allow me to share a couple short observations:
First: Discipleship is Every Believer’s Primary Call
Discipleship is every believer’s primary call. It’s not a special call for the elite. There is no such thing as “Christians” who are disciples and “Christians” who are not. When we come to know Christ, we commit ourselves to following Him. When Christ called His early followers, “Come, follow me”, it was basically an invitation to be with Him. Mark captures this in his gospel in chapter 3:14 as he says, “He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.” The disciples’ primary call was to “be with Jesus.” Then eventually, as their lives being transformed by the love and grace of God, they will be able to disciple others.
Our primary responsibility as Christians is to follow Christ. The question is how do we do that? When Jesus was here on this earth in the flesh, people had the opportunity to follow Him physically. When Jesus went to Galilee, they followed Him there; when He went to Jerusalem, so did they. But he is no longer here in the flesh, so how do modern day disciples follow Him? The answer is found in 1 Peter 2:21: “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”
Second: Discipleship is a Lifelong Journey
Discipleship is a lifelong journey. It’s a lifelong process. The Greek verb for “follow” which Jesus used in our Scripture today is a present imperative, denoting continuous action – in other words, Jesus requires a lifelong commitment to follow Him. Discipleship never ends.
What I am saying today is whether you’re a brand-new Christian or a lifelong Christian, discipleship will continue to be our primary call. New Christians need it; seasoned Christians need it as well. The life of discipleship never stops. Discipleship is the process God uses to accomplish His transforming work in us. It’s a lifelong journey of obedience to Christ that transforms a person’s values and behavior and results in a God glorifying life.
Someone said, “There is a crisis of discipleship in the American church today … Like ancient Israel and the church in some periods of history, we have adopted the beliefs, values, and behaviors of the surrounding culture to an alarming degree.” Where do we find hope for such tragedy? It’s in the life of discipleship.
Friends, Christ wants us to stay close to Him; to learn by following His example; and to be motivated by His love; to follow His pattern and to model ourselves after Him. In order to do that, we need to take our discipleship seriously. So I invite you today and in the next few weeks to examine your discipleship life. Maybe you never really considered it. Maybe you’ve become lazy and idle. Maybe you got stuck somewhere. Stand up, follower of Jesus, and keep following. The best is yet to come. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.