Getting to Know the Disciples-August 26, 2018, Ben Emerson
John, Matthew and Judas
Lesson Title: The Price of a Disciple
Lesson Goal: To learn what it cost the disciples to follow Jesus and what can keep us from following too close.
Introduction: What comes to your mind when you think about the twelve disciples and what they accom- plished for the Church?
It is easy for us to think, sometimes, that these men were chosen by Jesus because they had such special quali- ties and character and that it can be hard for us to be like them. Today, as we look briefly into the lives of some of the disciples, we will see that even though they made such an impact in the history of humanity and in the church they are no different than you and I.
John-If we look close at John, the brother of James, many of us know that he was a fisherman. However, he was just a fisherman. He was a fairly successful fisherman. It was a family business and had done well enough to be able to hire boatmen and other hired hands to help. It was a good job and a stable career.
The first time we meet John (John 1:35-37) he is a disciple of John the Baptist. When John the Baptist pro- claims Jesus as the true Messiah, John immediately begins to follow Jesus. This following was not just to be- lieve in Jesus as the Messiah but he was being called to leave what he had and literally follow Jesus. This meant walking away from the successful and stable career in the family business.
Matthew-He is known by most as the tax collector. Tax collectors in those days were seen as traitors to their own people. Matthew was a Jew that collected taxes for Rome and as other tax collectors he would col- lect more than Rome required in order to profit (Zacchaeus-Luke 19:8).
Tax collectors had a very comfortable life. They were protected by the government. They were financially secure. But just like the calling of John, he was called to leave the life that made him comfortable. He left se- curity and stability for the unknown.
Judas-In ‘I2 Ordinary Men’ MacArthur writes “The most notorious and universally scorned of all the disci- ples is Judas Iscariot, the betrayer. His name appears last in every biblical list of the apostles, except for the list in Acts 1, where it doesn’t appear at all. Every time Judas is mentioned in Scripture, we also find a nota- tion about his being a traitor.”
His name , Judas, is a form of Judah which means “Jehovah leads”. Many believe that this was an indication that his parents had great hopes of him being used by God Judas was the only disciple not from the Galilean region, which helped with his deception. He managed to work his way into the place of Treasurer for the group and used this as a way to make money by taking from their funds (John 12:6).
In this quick snapshots of these disciples’ lives we see they all had the same opportunity. All three were called to be followers of Jesus. But we see that only two of them chose to leave what gave them security and comfort to be true followers while one used the calling for personal gain.
Questions: What motivates people to leave comfort and stability to follow Jesus?
Questions Continued: What causes people to choose luxuries over following Jesus?
What has following Christ cost you?
Everything has a price. And sometimes the price can either motivate us as we’ve seen in the lives of John and Matthew. But sometimes it can discourage us from following Jesus. In Matthew 19 we find the familiar story of the Rich Young Man. The rich man knew he lacked something but wasn’t sure what it was. That is why he asked Jesus what he asked. But he thought whatever it was he lacked could simply be added to his life. But the one thing he lacked was a childlike dependence in Christ. So Jesus, seeking to bring this man to the point of such dependence, challenged this rich man to cut off his self-rule (“come, follow me”). Here out Lord de- mands not almsgiving (giving something to someone) but everything (give everything to others and everything to me). He demands everything.
In Teaching a Stone to Talk, Annie Dillard recalls the tragic story of the Franklin expedition to the North Pole. In 1845 a group of English explorers died because they were ill prepared for the challenges they would face. Instead of providing room on board their two ships for storing additional coal for the steam engines, these careless adventurers used the space for a large library, a barrel organ, china place settings, and cut-glass wine goblets. Needless to say, when they ran out of coal, as they did, their books and tea cups and ornate musical instruments were not enough to warm their freezing bodies. Every member of that expedition died. Sadly, 128 men lost their lives.
Years later when the search party found the remains of the men who had set off to walk for help, they discov- ered one skeleton dressed in a fine blue cloth uniform edged with silk braid, sadly grasping in his hand a place setting of sterling silver flatware. What a picture of their deadly foolishness (Douglas O’Donnell).
This rich young ruler in Matthew acted as foolishly as that dead British explorer.
Question: What sets these men apart from each other?
John-walked away from a very successful family fishing business to follow Jesus.
Matthew-walked away from making a lot of money “robbing” people as tax collector to follow Jesus. Judas-walked away from Jesus for personal gain just like the British explorer and the rich young man. Question: What sets these men apart from us?
John: Successful fisherman in the family business and was probably a believer from John the Baptist’s teach- ings. But that is not enough. You have to give up everything to follow Jesus.
Matthew-A sinner, tax collector. Realized he was not following Christ. He was not a believer; so he walked away from his sinful of robbing people to follow Christ.
Judas-One of Jesus’ disciples but was never a follower. He never gave his life to Christ. He was with Jesus for three years but never followed Him.
Question: Is there something keeping you from following Jesus? Is there something in your life that is keep- ing you from following Jesus more than you are now?
“One of the facts that stands out in their lives of all twelve apostles is how ordinary and unrefined they were when Jesus met them. All twelve, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, were from Galilee. That whole region was predominantly rural, consisting of small towns and villages. Its people were not elite. They were not known for their education. They were the commonest of the common. They were fisherman and farmers. Such were the disciples as well. Christ deliberately passed over those who were aristocratic and influential and chose men mostly from the dregs of society.” MacArthur
These men were no different than those of us who sit here today. They were presented with the same oppor- tunity we have. Follow Jesus at all cost. We have the same opportunity as they had. Make a profound impact on the world by giving up everything to follow Jesus.
The Story of William Borden:
In the early 1900’s, 16-year-old William Whiting Borden graduated from a Chicago high school. He was an heir to the Borden fortune. Before Borden began his Ivy League Education at Yale University, his parents sent him on a trip around the world for his graduation present. While on this trip around the world, something hap- pened that no one expected. As Borden traveled through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, he felt a growing burden for the world’s hurting people.
Borden wrote a letter to his parents and informed then that he wanted to spend the remainder of his life being a missionary. Upon hearing the news, one of his friends remarked that he would be “throwing his life away as a missionary.”
When Borden finished his elite Ivy League education he boarded a ship for China to serve as a missionary. Due to his passion to reach the Muslin people, he stopped in Egypt to learn the Arabic language. While he was in Egypt, 25-year-old Borden contracted spinal meningitis. Within a month, he was dead.
Borden had walked away from his wealthy fortune to take the Gospel of Jesus to the nations of the world. Most regarded it as a tragedy; however, God took the tragedy and did something far greater than Borden could every do himself. When thousands of young men and women read Borden’s story in the newspapers of Amer- ica, it inspired them to leave all they had and give their lives to reach the nations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
When Borden’s parents were given his Bible, they found the following. Just after he renounced his fortune to go to missions he wrote the words, “No Reserve.” His father told him he would always have a job in the company, then at a later point, his father told him he would never let him work in the company again, at this time Borden wrote in his Bible, “No Retreat.” Then, they discovered in his Bible these words written shortly before his death in Egypt, “No Regret.”
Question: Whatever the cost, are you willing to pay the price to be a follower of Jesus?
MacArthur, John. Twelve Ordinary Men. Nashville, TN. Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2002. O’Donnell, Douglas Sean. Preaching the Word: Matthew. Crossway, 2013.
Taylor, Mrs. Howard. Borden of Yale. Bethany House Publishing, 1988.