We now continue our message series, “Kingdom Come” where we learn what God’s Kingdom is like and how we bring it here on the earth.
Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is:
in your midst – NIV
within you – KJV
within you and among you and surrounding you – AMP
The intersection of where the Kingdom of Heaven meets earth is right here at the tip of our toes.
This week, we’re learning how the Kingdom of God is a kingdom of authority.
First, we’ll take a look at a time when Jesus sent His twelve disciples out into Israel.
1 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
Jesus called the disciples to Himself, then gave them authority, then sent them out.
We’ll then continue with a very familiar and often memorized and quoted scripture that we fondly refer to as “The Great Commission.”
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus called the disciples to Himself, reminded them of His authority, then sent them out.
Can discipleship happen without authority?
We have a tendency to believe that discipleship is all about bringing people into a relationship with Jesus and growing in that relationship. The perspective that the church has held in regard to successful discipleship has essentially been us sitting down with the Bible together and learning how to live as we ought to. Discipleship, however, is so, so much more!
A disciple is simply a student, or one who learns from another. If we call ourselves a disciple of Jesus, that just means that He is our teacher and instructor in life. We follow Him and His example for living. The word disciple is used 268 times in the New Testament; five times more frequently than salvation. Salvation is the beginning, but discipleship is the process where salvation is put into action, not only growing our own faith, but also leading others to salvation!
Yes, discipleship begins by us being introduced to Jesus and choosing to put our faith in Him. It continues with us growing in our knowledge of who He is together. However, discipleship, in a Biblical sense, was never limited to sitting in a book club and learning about God. Discipleship was never primarily about me and improving myself to be the best me that I can be.
Discipleship, in a Biblical sense, is about learning who God is by His word being applied via life experience. Discipleship, in a Biblical sense, is all about God’s Kingdom. Discipleship is about me following the example of Jesus. It is not only learning about the Kingdom of God, but more importantly, experiencing it. This is why discipleship requires authority.
These are not my own words or idea, but rather the words and desire of Jesus. This is what discipleship looks like:
Follow me. As you go throughout life, proclaim this message: “The kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.
Freely you have received; freely give.
Biblical discipleship happens both inside as well as outside of the walls of a building. Disciples would meet in synagogues and in the temple to learn God’s word and to pray. Most of the practical discipleship and ministry, however, happened while they were living life outside of the synagogues in their public communities. Jesus commanded that while we go, we are to make disciples. He didn’t say, “Gather in the temple and synagogues and make disciples.” He said, “While you go, make disciples.”
The great commission, as it is recorded, but not often quoted from in the book of Mark, looks much like the discipleship method of Jesus and of church life recorded in the New Testament. This Biblical discipleship cannot happen without the authority of Jesus!
14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
Why does discipleship today not look the same way as it did in the Bible? I believe it is mostly because we have been deceived into watering down what it means to be a disciple. To be a disciple in the church today, you simply need to show up at church on occasion and live the best moral life that you can. If you choose not to, it’s acceptable and God’s grace will be sufficient to cover your lifestyle.
This is far, far from the discipleship that we see in the scriptures! To be a disciple Biblically, you were willing to give up everything to follow Jesus. You left behind everything and everyone for the cause of Christ. You literally were putting your life on the line to learn from Jesus and to sit at His feet. While you went about your life, you preached that the Kingdom of God is near and Jesus then confirmed His word with signs, wonders, and miracles. The grace of God was the empowering force that enabled us to live a life free from sin and not an excuse and license to continue in it. This Biblical discipleship required commitment and the authority of Jesus.
Our discipleship requires very little commitment and no authority from Jesus at all. We are missing out on so much if we simplify the process of discipleship, learning from Jesus, to a mere Bible study and salvation prayer. True discipleship radically transforms us and the world around us!
The truth is that no one has ever changed, grown, or matured by simply intellectually learning about something. Change, growth, and maturity come when we gain knowledge and then live it out through practical application. True life change that brings about growth and maturity requires an authority outside of our own strength and ability. The transforming life change that most people are hungry for cannot come from a self-help book or life coach; it requires the authority of Jesus!
We often quote the great commission beginning with the word, “therefore.” However, when we do so, we omit the entire reason that we have been commissioned. Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, therefore, we make disciples. We make disciples because Jesus has been given all authority.
Can Biblical discipleship happen without this authority from Jesus? NO!
The method that Jesus used of discipleship was to call people to Himself, then give them authority, then send them out. The twelve disciples of Jesus didn’t meet with Him a few hours a week to learn lessons, they lived life together! Jesus discipled by on-the-job training. He would teach great truths while they were walking down the road together. He would show them what God’s Kingdom is like with real, practical, displays of His power and authority.
Those twelve men were allowed to be real people with real issues in a real relationship with Jesus. Jesus didn’t teach those men to look like a good, godly man. They didn’t even wash their hands before they ate! The truth is, Jesus ridiculed the Pharisees for looking godly on the outside, but being dead on the inside. Jesus was interested in real transformation from the inside out. When they asked questions, Jesus answered them. Jesus didn’t require years of classes and mentoring before His disciples were launched into ministry, they were sent out on their own shortly after they chose to follow Jesus. When they failed, He taught them how to do it better next time.
Discipleship was an adventure! Discipleship was also a multiplication process. Jesus closely discipled twelve men, then eleven of them went on to disciple others who discipled others leading eventually to us today also being disciples of Jesus! Discipleship was very personal and one-on-one. It wasn’t something that could be written down and packaged into a curriculum; it was life-on-life.
If that is how Jesus discipled people, then why should we think that we can do it better any other way?
For time’s sake, we cannot cover the authority of Jesus in detail this morning. We know that Jesus has been given authority over everything in heaven and earth. He calls us to Him, gives us His authority, then sends us out to make disciples of the world. We understand that He has called and saved us. We somewhat understand that we are being sent by Him out into the world to seek and save the lost. However, I feel that we really fail to understand the authority that has been entrusted to us. This authority gives us the ability and power to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons; essentially to have it be here on earth as it is in Heaven.
In closing, we take a look at a Gentile man, as many of us are, who had such a grasp and understanding of the authority of Jesus that he was commended for having more faith than anyone else Jesus encountered in Israel.
5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him,“Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
Jesus has called each one of us. He has given us authority to do His will and to have it be here on the earth as it is in Heaven. He has sent us out into the world to make disciples. Let’s stop making excuses, follow His lead, and allow Him to confirm His word through our lives. The task of discipleship hasn’t been given only to pastors, apostles, teachers, evangelists, and prophets, it has been given to everyone who chooses to follow Jesus; His disciples. Let’s get out there and begin discipling like this.
* Discipleship video *