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In the Dust of the Rabbi Small Group Edition Discovery Guide
By Ray Vander Laan
ZondervanCopyright © 2006 Ray Vander Laan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSession 1
when the rabbi says "come"
Discipleship was at the heart of Jesus' ministry, so it's not surprising that the word disciple is used more than 250 times in the New Testament. In fact, the New Testament is the story of disciples written by disciples who wanted to make disciples. And those disciples dramatically changed their world!
But is the disciple-making mission of Jesus and his followers as clear, compelling, and effective nearly two thousand years later? Not really. Discipleship as Jesus and his followers knew it is not part of Western Christian culture today. Contemporary Christianity does not always make discipleship central to the faith. Many who call themselves Christians don't even know what a disciple is. While we readily agree that it is essential to believe in Jesus as our Savior, we tend to treat his lordship in our lives as a desirable option, like the color we choose when we buy a new car - nice, but not essential. If we recognize the importance of discipleship, we tend to think that obeying God's commands is a worthwhile goal but is less important than "being saved." We view discipleship as a goal that only a few "all-star" believers can attain.
Jesus and his disciples had a very differentview of discipleship. They made no distinction between "being saved" and living in obedience to God. To be saved was to be totally committed to a life of obedience-to walk as the Rabbi walked, to become like him. They did not do this in order to be saved, but rather because they were saved. Thus the goal of the community of Jesus is not to make converts but to make disciples. Salvation, of course, is essential, but it is the entrance to the path of discipleship rather than the final destination. That is why the apostle James wrote, "Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" (James 2:17).
In this session, we will consider what Jesus means by his call, "Come, follow me." His is a call to radical discipleship, a concept Dallas Willard captures well:
When Jesus walked among humankind, there was a certain simplicity to being a disciple. Primarily it meant to go with him, in an attitude of study, obedience, and imitation. There were no correspondence courses. One knew what to do and what it would cost.... Family and friends were deserted for long periods to go with Jesus as he walked from place to place announcing, showing, and explaining the governance of God. Disciples had to be with him to learn what he did.
Just as God miraculously blessed the early disciples' desire and commitment to become more like Jesus the Rabbi, God desires the same of us. He calls us to reclaim the ancient practice of discipleship that was central to Jesus' life and message. So let's walk in the footsteps of ancient disciples for a while. Let's explore the communities and culture in which they lived. Let's examine the practices of first-century rabbis and their disciples - their love for and knowledge of Scripture and their passionate desire to give up everything in order to obey God as their rabbi did. As we discover the world in which discipleship was born and practiced, we will better understand Jesus' call to be his disciples.
Opening Thoughts (4 minutes)
The Very Words of God
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. 1 John 2:3-6
Think About It
When it came time to choose his disciples and launch his ministry, Jesus did not go to Jerusalem-the first place we might have gone-but to the sparsely populated hills surrounding the Sea of Galilee. Why? What was it about Galilee that captured his attention above all other places in Israel?
DVD Notes (28 minutes)
Scythopolis and Bethsaida: cities in contrast
Galilee, where discipleship flourished
The building blocks of discipleship
Becoming a disciple
Excerpted from In the Dust of the Rabbi Small Group Edition Discovery Guide by Ray Vander Laan Copyright © 2006 by Ray Vander Laan . Excerpted by permission.
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