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Lesson 9: Following the Master: Discipleship in Action *

Introduction: Every morning we begin a new day during which we can advance the Kingdom of God. Are you thinking of the possibilities for "disciple work" each morning? What kinds of opportunities are present? Is it enough to keep our eyes open to see what we can do to promote God's work? Or, should we be more active and search out opportunities? Is it possible that if we are already doing something, it is the wrong thing? Let's dive into our lesson to observe some disciples in action!

  1. The Paralytic and His Friends

    1. Read Luke 5:17. If this were you instead of Jesus, would you be nervous? (All these important leaders from all over had come to observe Jesus.)

      1. Why were they present? (Some commentaries I read said they were present to be critical and to catch Jesus doing something wrong. Another commentary said that they had the right and obligation to be sure that blasphemy and false teaching did not take place, so they were just doing their jobs.)

        1. Whichever of the commentaries are correct, what is the common element on which they agree? (That these leaders were there to pay close attention to what Jesus said. It was not a social visit.)

        2. How about you? Should you be alert to those who want to do you harm because you promote the gospel? (Yes. You should ask God to give you wisdom and common sense in your work.)

      2. We discussed two weeks ago the issue of having "authority" to perform miracles. When the text says "the power of the Lord was present for Him to heal the sick," does that mean that Jesus had to be given "authority" to perform miracles and He did not have that authority all the time? (The commentary "Word Pictures in the New Testament" says the Greek is hard to translate into English. The text does not mean the power of Jesus to heal was intermittent. Instead, it puts the terms "Jehovah" and "dynamite" together. My thought is "Dynamite Jesus" was there in the face of all of these powerful leaders. Jesus was "packing" power!)

    2. Read Mark 2:2. Let's see what Mark adds to this story. What do you think was Jesus' first priority: preaching or healing? (Preaching. My feeling is that His healing arose from this: 1)His heart for suffering people; 2)His desire to attract people to His preaching; and, 3) The "proof" of His authority as the Messiah to skeptical outsiders like the Jewish leaders. His preaching of the gospel must have been His first priority.)

      1. How about your work? Should you start with preaching? Or, is helping those around you the best way to start? (Imagine the harm done to the gospel if you are a mean, grasping, unpleasant person and you decide to share the gospel.)

    3. Read Luke 5:18-19. How do you like it when you are interrupted in your speaking? How do you like it when your first priority is interrupted by others?

      1. Imagine preaching and all of a sudden there is this big noise of digging and scraping in the roof. This is followed by junk falling down on the crowd and on you. Then all of a sudden everyone is distracted by this fellow being let down right between you and your audience. Would you consider the people who were breaking up the roof to be inconsiderate and rude?

      2. Put yourself in the place of the friends of the paralyzed guy. Would you take one look at the crowd and decide to come back tomorrow?

        1. What motivated them to persist?

        2. Do you consider them to be inconsiderate and rude? Or, loving, caring and resourceful in helping their friend?

    4. Read Luke 5:20. How did Jesus react? Was He irritated by their rudeness?

      1. Step back a minute and consider the digging and Jesus' preaching. Is the digging a good thing for what happens next? (Yes. It focused the attention of the people on what Jesus said and did to the paralyzed guy. The digging was an unexpected blessing to Jesus' ministry. We should look for the positive side of interruptions.)

      2. On what did Jesus base His conclusion about"their" faith ( Luke 5:20)? (Their persistent faith was manifest in digging - it was shown by their works! Want to show your faith today? Do something!)

      3. Who is referred to when the Bible says "their" faith?

      4. Put yourself in the place of the paralyzed guy. You can think, see and talk, but you have some major limitation on your ability to move. So, you are about to get lowered down through a roof. If someone makes a mistake in rope-handling you could get dropped on your head from the rafters. Would you vote for this?

        1. What if they dropped you? Would you have faith Jesus could heal you anyway?

        2. Perhaps Jesus' faith experience for you today requires you to step outside your comfort zone, expose yourself to getting "dropped on your head."

    5. Let's look at Luke 5:20 again. Wait a minute! The problem is that this fellow is paralyzed. Put yourself in the place of the friends. You just got through the work and embarrassment of digging through the roof in front of this big crowd. Instead of healing your friend, Jesus says "Your sins are forgiven." How do you feel?

      1. Why would Jesus be talking about sins? (Read John 9:1-3. The common perception was that sickness was caused by sin. Some, obviously, was. Whether the paralytic's sickness was caused by sin or whether he merely thought it came from his sin, apparently his sin was his first concern. Jesus addressed his first concern.)

    6. Read Luke 5:21. The authorities are paying attention to this! Are their thoughts correct? (Yes. Only God can forgive sins.)

      1. What point is Luke making to us? (Jesus is God.)

    7. Read Luke 5:22-23. What is the answer to Jesus' question? Which is easier to say?

      1. If you answered "Your sins are forgiven," are you sure?

    8. Read Luke 5:24-25. If the teachers of the law had not been thinking critical thoughts, would this paralyzed guy have been healed? (Don't miss the fact that Jesus knows your thoughts.)

    9. Compare what the teachers of the law are doing to promote the gospel compared to the friends of the paralyzed guy? Which are you more like in your daily discipleship?

    10. If you were in the crowd, would you be convinced by Jesus' logic? Is it logical to believe that everyone who heals can also forgive sins? (It is true that healing comes from the power of God. But not everyone who heals is God. I think Jesus was making a different argument. The critics were saying, "This is just hot (and blasphemous) air. Anyone can say anything." Jesus shows that His words have power. When He says I can forgive sins, they need to take His words seriously.)

    11. Read Luke 5:26. Notice the people praised God. Why didn't they praise Jesus? (They believed that Jesus was the Messiah. They believed Jesus was God.)

      1. Is praising God part of our work as disciples?

  2. Fire and Friends

    1. Read Luke 12:47-48. Aren't you glad that you are reading this lesson? Now, if you do nothing, you get more badly beaten up! Is that Jesus' point? (That is part of it. I think Jesus has something deeper in mind. How many of us look around and feel good about ourselves because of the pagan slugs around us? Jesus is warning us against that kind of attitude. The true disciple is working to advance the kingdom and not smirking at the less faithful.)

    2. Read Luke 12:49-51. And here I am singing about the "Prince of Peace!" Is this an example for us? To bring about division wherever we go?

      1. Compare John 14:27. How can Jesus say that He is bringing division and peace?

      2. Compare Matthew 17:27. Why would Jesus want to avoid offending people that He wants to divide?

    1. Let's continue reading Luke 12:52-53. Why will Jesus bring division within families?

    2. Let's go back and look again at Luke 12:49-50. Why should Jesus talk about His own "baptism" in this context? (I think what Jesus faced is an example for us. Jesus was not trying to create enemies. His goal was peace. But, he had a difficult road ahead of Him in His goal of bringing peace (with God) to us and bringing peace (in the triumph against sin) to the universe. We are not to try to create division. But until our goal is reached, the gospel creates division. I have a co-worker who I do not know well. He is Jewish and he converted to Christianity. His father recently died and I saw the service was in a synagogue. That told me a great deal about the division issue in his life.)

  1. Final Instructions

    1. Read Matthew 28:18-20. Why does Jesus begin this instruction by saying that all authority has been given to Him? (The disciples have something astonishing to talk about. Jesus won the victory over sin. He now has all authority. He is worthy of being followed.)

      1. What are we to do in response to Jesus' victory? (Make other disciples.)

        1. What do we do with these disciples? (Baptize them and then teach them.)

      2. What assurance do we have in this mission? (That Jesus will be with us until His Second Coming when He takes us home with Him.)

    2. Friend, I started out asking you how you should approach each day. It seems we should keep our eyes open for what we can do, but we should also be deliberate in promoting the gospel. We should be like the friends helping the paralyzed guy rather than the leaders looking for faults in Jesus. We should make disciples, not critique them. Will you commit to doing that today?

  2. Next week: Discipleship Under Pressure.
* 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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