Discipleship: Biblical Examples
You were encouraged at the end of Lesson 1 to search the Scriptures for at least two examples of people who were Called to Discipleship. Use the following questions as a study guide in your development of an understanding of those biblical characters and their responses to Jesus' Call to Discipleship. Make personal application of your increased understanding of Jesus' expectations of those He Calls to be His disciples.
To teachers: One focus of this lesson plan is to encourage class members to search the scriptures for examples of discipleship. From such a study, we should be able to identify some common aspects of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ and to notice that there are many ways in which people begin this process. In addition, the biblical examples will help us understand that Jesus can be encountered in different ways.
The following are suggested examples to use in this lesson or you may use your favorite biblical character as one of the examples to discuss are: Nicodemus, John 3:1-21 ; Pentecost, Acts 2: 5- 41 ; Ethiopian Eunuch, Acts 8:26-40 ; Paul (Saul), Acts 9:1-22 ; The Jailer, 16: 25-36 ; King Agrippa, Acts 26:1-32.
1. Under what circumstances do the disciples in your examples encounter Jesus?
Ethiopian eunuch: This man is an important official in the Ethiopian government and is returning home after having worshiped in Jerusalem. He is searching the scriptures in Isaiah and does not understand the prophetic message concerning Jesus. These verses imply that the eunuch is a man of faith who is diligently searching God's message. He seems to be searching for a better understanding of God's message with an open mind. God sent Philip to this man to help him understand the gospel message about the suffering Savior.
Paul: Paul had a plan. This plan involved receiving the blessing of the high priest, and then proceeding 150 miles to the synagogues in Damascus, which is the capital of modern day Syria. His plan was to aid the Jewish zealots who wanted to eradicate the followers of the Jesus. (It is interesting that they are not described as Christians. Historically, the Romans had used Christians in a derogatory manner to name the followers of Jesus. In this passage they are simply described as those who belonged to the "Way".) Paul is intercepted by Jesus on the way to Damascus. This encounter is specific and directed entirely at Paul.
2. How did they understand the Call of Jesus to discipleship?
Ethiopian eunuch: The eunuch did not fully understand the gospel Call until he had help from Philip. The scriptures from Isaiah pointed to Jesus but did not give the full perspective of His life. Philip was an instrument of God to explain the Word and to deliver the message of the gospel. The eunuch's understanding came from what Philip taught him, which was enough to cause the eunuch to request to be baptized. This event marked the beginning of his life as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Paul: Paul falls to the ground as a bright light from heaven flashes around him and a voice addresses him by name asking him why he is persecuting the heavenly entity. It is interesting, if not ironical, that Paul, who is persecuting the followers of Jesus in a very direct and aggressive manner, does not recognize the voice or seem to make a connection between his actions and the question he is asked. Paul asks, "Lord, who are you?" Jesus then identifies himself by name and implicates Paul as a persecutor of Jesus. The next statement from Jesus is a command, "Get up, go to the city and wait."
3. What were their responses to Jesus?
Ethiopian eunuch: Once the message was understood the eunuch responded to God's Call immediately. He even stopped in the midst of his travel to act on his belief in Jesus. His belief was expressed by his desire to be baptized into Jesus and he returned home rejoicing.
Paul: Paul is now incapacitated, struck blind by his encounter with Jesus. Paul, the aggressor of the followers of Jesus, is now dependent upon the kindness of others. He most rely on the eyes and hands of others to reach Damascus where he waits with prayer and fasting. God uses a disciple named Ananias to deliver the message of God's plan for Paul. Ananias lays hands upon Paul and Paul receives his sight back. Then Paul is baptized and takes nourishment.
4. What was the cost to each individual as he or she answered Jesus' Call? Remember that not all responses to Jesus' Call were positive.
Ethiopian eunuch: Although we do not have the full story about the eunuch and his life after his accepting Jesus Call to be a disciple, we do know that he began a new life. The start of this new life was simple, he rejoiced in the fact that he knew Jesus and that through his obedience to Jesus, he was a new creature.
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