Faithlife
Faithlife

Triumphal Entry

Lent 2017  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Notes & Transcripts

What does it mean to be a disciple?

Over 1400 times in the scriptures there are references to the disciples of of Jesus. Some of those references come from Jesus himself, some from other sources and some from the authors of the texts. It is part of “The Great Commission” from
Matthew 28:19 NRSV
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
It is this group that is assembled with him at the beginning of today’s reading:
Luke 19:29 NRSV
When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples,
It is this group that the Pharisees want to stop crying out in
Luke 19:39 NRSV
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.”
Before we can make more disciples, we need to understand who they are, and what they do.
Harper’s Bible Dictionary defines disciple as:
disciple (translates the Gk. for ‘learner’), an apprentice or pupil attached to a teacher or movement; one whose allegiance is to the instruction and commitments of the teacher or movement. - Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 222). San Francisco: Harper & Row.
Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 222). San Francisco: Harper & Row.
and Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary notes:
The word is rarely used in the Old Testament. Isaiah used the term “disciples” to refer to those who are taught or instructed (). Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). In Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 222). San Francisco: Harper & Row.
So if being a disciple means being a student or an apprentice, when does one stop being a student and become a teacher, when does one stop being an apprentice and become a master? Really the question becomes when does one stop being a disciple?
Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). In Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Does it happen when we stop learning? Certainly apprentices work under a teacher or master for a while and then go out on their own, once they’ve learned enough to do so. Does that mean they stop learning though, or that they aren’t still aligned with the instruction and commitments of their teacher? Again, does it come down to a point of ever needing to not learn anymore, or not follow in the way they are taught?
Well, in the case of being a disciple of Jesus that answer regarding when we stop learning might be never. One might never get to the point of knowing enough to be comfortable going out on their own.
And how could we? The scriptures are too vast and rich for us to ever really attain a mastery of them. And God is so vast, there’s no one who can really claim a mastery of God.
So maybe, once we start on the journey of being a disciple of Jesus, we can’t stop. I guess we could stop learning, but would we ever say that our allegiances are no longer in tune with Christ? I doubt any of us would claim that — we might think that about others, but wouldn’t claim it for ourselves.

What does a disciple do?

Maybe this comes down to the classic question posed by the incident with Mary and Martha. Does a disciple sit at the feet of Jesus and learn, or does a disciple of Jesus do everything they can to show hospitality?
Maybe this comes down to the incident with the sending out of the 70 — where the disciples get sent out to represent Jesus, and heal people in his name.
Maybe this comes down to, as it did in today’s reading, of going ahead of Jesus and doing what he needs done — getting the donkey to be ridden on.
Actually, a disciple is someone who does all of those. The question for us as we grow as disciples of Jesus is how we balance all of these different facets:
Learning
Hospitality
Representing Jesus
Doing the work of Jesus
Holy Week affords us the opportunity to actually work on all of these. Coming to worship we hear again the stories, and learn something new. Inviting people to worship with us combines the representing and the hospitality. Participating in the liturgies is doing the work of Jesus — reconnecting ourselves with God in a way that brings us back into communion with God.

What is Holy Week for you?

For me, it is a time of busyness — however it is also a crucial time of faith development. This week is what we’re about — what our faith is all about. This week is discipleship in a nutshell. My hope and prayer is that each disciple of Jesus enters fully into Holy Week. Participate in the liturgies, represent Jesus and show hospitality in the world by inviting people to join you in worship, and hear again the great stories of our faith — for the we will be true disciples of Jesus.
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