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Lesson 3: Called to Discipleship by Jesus *

Introduction: What did it take for you to become a disciple of Jesus? What will it take on your part to convince others to be Jesus' disciples? If you are not a disciple, what will it take to convince you? Our lesson this week continues our exploration of how Jesus called His disciples and how they responded. Let's dive into the Bible and learn more!

  1. Calling the Disciples

    1. In our prior lessons in this series we looked at how Jesus called Andrew, Peter, James and John. Let's continue by reading John 1:43-45. How easy is it to convince Philip to follow Jesus? (Jesus simply says "Follow me" and he does.)

      1. What motivates Philip to follow? (Philip believes that Jesus is the Messiah. We know that because he says that to Nathanael.)

    2. Read John 1:46. Nathanael thinks he is getting a mixed message from Philip. What seems out of place? (Philip says this is the Messiah, but he also says this is the son of a guy named Joseph from a terrible town.)

      1. Read Matthew 2:4-6. What does this say about the place of origin of the Messiah?

      2. Read John 7:52. Nazareth is in the region of Galilee. Does Nathanael have a reasonable theological point? (If he had done the genealogical research, he would have found that Jesus was born in Bethlehem - which accorded with prophecy. (Compare Micah 5:2 with Luke 2:4-7.) I doubt that Philip is much on genealogical research, but he seems to know his prophecies!)

    3. Read again John 1:46. How does Philip answer Nathanael's theological questions?

      1. What lesson does this teach us in recruiting disciples?

      2. How would you compare launching into a theological debate to telling a person what Jesus has done in your life? Which would be more comfortable for you? Which would be more compelling?

    4. Read John 1:47. Nathanael is skeptical. How does Jesus approach him?

      1. Is Jesus "buttering him up" by complimenting him?

      2. When we face skeptics, should we tell them they look good, or have nice clothes or are obviously smart?

    5. Read John 1:48-49. What does this add to our discussion about whether Jesus is "buttering up" Nathanael? (He is not complimenting Nathanael. Notice how Jesus changes the issue. Nathanael wants Jesus to prove He is the Messiah. Jesus turns the discussion to Nathanael's character - whether he is qualified to be a disciple. Jesus says, "I know your character." When Nathanael asks "How," Jesus shows that He is no mere man.)

      1. How convincing a proof is it that Jesus saw Nathanael under the fig tree? Would that convince you?

    6. Read John 1:50-51. Is Jesus merely a good man? What claim did He make for Himself? (He tells Nathanael that he will have much better evidence that Jesus is the Messiah.)

    7. Read Luke 5:1-3. In our first lesson in this series we studied how Andrew and Simon Peter became disciples. We commented on how "at once" Simon and Andrew "left their nets and followed" Jesus ( Matthew 4:18-20). When do you think this story (in Luke) took place? Before or after Jesus first called them? (The commentaries are divided on this. I consulted about twelve commentaries. A third of them say nothing about the timing. A third say Luke has a more detailed account of the Matthew 4 call. About a third say Luke's report is the last of a series of progressive calls to the disciples.)

    8. Read Luke 5:4-5. What was wrong with Jesus' suggestion? (They had been fishing - all night - which was the logical time to find fish. Jesus, who was a "preacher" and not a "professional fisherman," gave Peter some professionally foolish advice. Peter notes that this is bad advice, but says he will follow it anyway.)

      1. Notice that Simon Peter calls Jesus "Master," and has some reason to follow Jesus' advice over his own professional learning. What does this suggest about whether this was the original call to discipleship? (It suggests that this was a later call.)

    9. Read John 21:1-6. What is the timing of this story? (After Jesus was crucified and resurrected.)

      1. What does this tell us about these disciples and fishing? (They are back to fishing!)

      2. What does this suggest about the order of the calls? (I like the idea of progressive calls to these disciples because it seems more consistent with my life and theirs. Jesus calls, and I stumble along (generally speaking) towards obedience. Leaving "at once" is the goal. But Jesus keeps knocking on the door to the heart.)

    10. Read Luke 5:6-7. Why do you think Jesus performed a miracle to enhance the profits for the job Jesus wanted Peter to leave?

    11. Read Luke 5:8-11. What answer does this suggest to my previous question? (When Jesus performed an amazing miracle in connection with Peter's profession, Peter knew this was the real thing. Nothing was faked here. That miracle changed his heart.)

      1. What does this suggest about Jesus' call to you to be a disciple? What does it suggest about the direction of your life? (Jesus is pursuing Peter and the others! I think you can ask God to be clear on the direction to be taken in your life. If He is not clear, then follow the direction that your talents and your understanding of God's will (in general) take you.)

      2. Did you notice who are Peter's "partners?" (The whole group - Peter, James and John have some sort of business relationship.)

      3. What do you think about Peter and his partners leaving the financial rewards of the miracle? (It shows that they have finally gotten the message that their career is changing.)

    12. Read Matthew 9:9. What do you know about the "tax collectors" in Jesus' time? (They were Jews who were collecting taxes for the Romans.)

      1. What do you think Jews would think of that? (Rome was an occupying nation. As a result, they were looked on as traitors.)

      2. As I understand it, Rome would "bid out" the taxes for a certain area. The person who won the bid, would pay Rome the tax bid, and have the authority of Rome to collect taxes in that area. What problems do you see in that scheme? (The idea for the bidder was to make a profit. The more taxes you could collect, the higher your profit.)

        1. Normally we think making a profit for producing something valuable is reasonable and good. What product was the tax collector producing? (You can see why the tax collectors were not only considered traitors, but they were also looked on as dishonest and greedy.)

      3. Why would Jesus call such a man to be His disciple? (Jesus saw something in him - and Jesus was right because this man wrote the gospel of Matthew. This also shows you that Jesus wants you for His disciple, whatever your background.)

      4. What do we learn about Matthew from the way he described his call to be a disciple? (He was honest about his background. He did not add details to make himself look better. It gives you some idea about how he approached writing his gospel.)

    13. Friend, how about you? Will you answer Jesus' call to be His disciple?

  2. Next week: Lessons From Would-be-Disciples.
* Copr. 2008, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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