By Rev. Dr. Sergio E. Arevalo, Jr.
Santa Ana United Methodist Church
609 North Spurgeon Street, Santa Ana, CA 92701
January 22, 2017
I watched the Chinese movie, “The Last Tycoon,” starred by Hong Kong action superstar Chow Yun-Fat. It is based on a true story about a man who tried his best to change his life before the Japanese invaded China. I don’t like his criminal ways, but I am amazed with his loyalty to his master. He even sacrificed his life just to protect and save his master. Indeed the protagonist is a good disciple to his master.
Who are Jesus’ disciples among us? Every Christian must be a good disciple. The term “disciple” is derived from the Koine Greek word mathetes. Disciple means “learner and follower.” A disciple follows the Lord while learning and perfecting his following.
There are three (3) things that a disciple should do to follow Jesus Christ as his Master:
- Each disciple should experience repentance (v.17). Repentance is changing of heart, mind and direction. If you recall, the other side of the coin of repentance is faith. In reality it is not important whichever is first and last. The important thing is that where there is faith, there must be genuine repentance.
- Each disciple should listen and follow Jesus’ command (vv.19, 20). When the first disciples heard the voice of Jesus, they immediately followed Him. They did not complain. They did not say, “Wait Lord, I have to finish something first before I follow you.” Like a loyal soldier they followed Jesus with a sense of urgency. As if somebody would die if they would not follow ASAP!
- Each disciple should sacrifice (v.20). Being a disciple is not laxity. Being a disciple is like accepting a call like a good soldier. Soldiers know that the government is going to send them to war zone anytime! And they know that they may be sent back home in a box. Soldiers need to sacrifice for the country, and we as Christians must sacrifice for the mission of Christ. Doing sacrificial thing is not just 10 percent but 100 percent of our being. Jesus sacrificed for us and he offered his whole life for the salvation of humankind.
What did the disciples give up? (1) The disciples gave up their jobs (vv.20, 22). (2) The disciples left their families (v.22; Luke 14:26). (3) The disciples gave up their riches and possessions (Matt 19:21) Jesus says, “In the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions” (Luke 14:33). (4) The disciples gave up their comfort zones and suffered with Jesus (Mark 8:34).
They left their comfort zones to show mercy and love with others (Luke 10:25-37). In Luke, the Good Samaritan showed his being a believer by helping a victim on the street. The Jewish priest and the Levite) just watched the needy man and passed by, but the Good Samaritan stopped and helped him, cleaned his bruises and brought to the nearest inn. He even spent his own money just to make sure the innkeeper would help him.
The disciples gave up themselves! Or shall we say they denied themselves (Luke 14:27). When was the last time that we denied ourselves for Christ’s mission? When was the last time that we helped those people who were doing God’s mission? When was the last time that you heard God’s inner voice, but you remained deaf to execute his will?
The disciples did carry their own crosses. Jesus says, “Whoever doesn’t carry his cross and follow me can’t be my disciple” (Luke 14:27). In this phrase Jesus is reminding us that following him means carrying our own cross! Every disciple has his/her own unique cross. My cross is different from yours. It’s because God has given us different tasks, gifts and talents on the different times and opportunities.
The late theologian/philosopher, Francis Schaeffer, whose life and books have impacted thousands for Christ, was raised in a non-Christian home. After he became a Christian, his father did not want him to go to college and did not want him to become a minister, which young Francis felt called to be.
When the moment finally came where he had to make the decision to go with what he thought God wanted or to submit to his father’s wishes, Francis asked in a strained voice, “Pop, give me a few minutes to go down in the cellar and pray.”
In fear and uncertainty, he went down there and wept hot tears of sorrow for his father. Then, in an act of desperate and simple faith, he did something that he would never advise anyone else to do, but what he felt was right for him at the time: he prayed, “Oh, God, please show me.”
Then he took out a coin and said, “Heads, I’ll go in spite of dad’s desires.” It was heads. Still weeping, he cried out, “God, be patient with me. If it’s tails this time, I’ll go.” Tails.
The third time he pleaded, “Once, more, God. I don’t want to make a mistake with Dad upstairs. Please now, let it be heads again.” It was heads.
So he went upstairs and told his dad that he had to go. His dad looked hard at him, then went out to slam the door. But just before the door hit the frame, his voice came through, “I’ll pay for the first half year.” It was many years later that Francis’ dad became a Christian, but Francis thinks that this moment was the basis of his salvation, when Francis in effect declared, “I must follow the Lord.” (Told by Edith Schaeffer, in The Tapestry [Word], pp. 60-62).
Rev. Dr. Dawn Chesser reminds us:
Jesus’ call to “follow me” is for each one of us, and he calls us to answer that call in the specific context in which we have been placed. We don’t have to go to a war zone to follow Jesus. We don’t have to go to another country, or another city, or even another neighborhood. As my father always tells me, all I have to do is hoe my own row. I have to tend the garden in which God has planted me. I have to nurture the people God has placed in my community. I don’t have to try to do it all! I just have to concentrate on my row. But just think: If each one of us hoes our row, imagine how that can change the world! (UMC Discipleship Ministries Preaching Notes, Jan 22, 2017).
Brethren, indeed every one of us has different “row” to “hoe” or to cultivate. Look at your surroundings, look at your neighbor, look at your seatmate, look at your friend, or look at the church or look at the pastor. Probably they are your mission field. Just open your heart and your soul to accommodate their needs and their soul. Probably God is talking to your inner heart to help them. Don’t wait for them to come to you, as Jesus says “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19).
Matthew 4:23 says that when Jesus and his disciples went throughout Galilee, Jesus taught in the synagogues, proclaimed the gospel and healed all diseases and sicknesses of people. Jesus did not wait for them to come to him, he went out, he looked for them, and he shared the good news and performed miracles.
I believe when we go out to our own “row” and cultivate it, we could make miracles by sharing the Gospel of the Lord. Do you want to try …. now?