The Secret Disciple – Luke 23:50-52

secret_agent“There was a good and righteous man named Joseph, a member of the Sanhedrin, who had not agreed with their plan and action. He was from Arimathea, a Judean town, and was looking forward to the kingdom of God. He approached Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body” (Luke 23:50-52, HCSB).

Joseph of Arimathea was apparently a member of the Sanhedrin and a man of wealth. He was a good and righteous man so he had disagreed with the injustice of the Sanhedrin’s decision to execute Jesus.

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It’s Personal – Matthew 28:18-20

Will_You_Make_it_Personal“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV).

In these verses that are known as the Great Commission, Jesus articulates to His disciples their mission just prior to His ascension into heaven.

Jesus simply tasks them with the job of making more disciples. And, to accomplish this task, He said He would be right there with them (and us) to help make more disciples.

The accomplishment of the Great Commission is a process we call evangelism. We develop many strategies and programs for evangelism. But, evangelism is not intended to be as complicated a process as we make it. And, it’s certainly not meant to be done only by ministry professionals such as pastors, evangelists, and youth ministers.

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Fuzzy Faith – Acts 18:25-26

“This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught the things about Jesus accurately, although he knew only John’s baptism. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him home and explained the way of God to him more accurately. (Acts 18:25-26, HCSB)

Apollos was from Alexandria, Egypt, a city of great learning. However, his knowledge of the gospel of Jesus was deficient since he apparently was a disciple of John the Baptist.

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Turning the World Upside Down – Acts 17:6-7

“These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too, and Jason has received them as guests! They are all acting contrary to Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king—Jesus!” (Acts 17:6-7, HCSB).

In Thessalonica the conversion of a great number of God-fearing Greeks and leading women prompted jealousy among unbelieving Jews. While the Apostle Paul had encountered resistance just about everywhere he went during his missionary journeys, here the Jews organized scoundrels from the marketplace to form a mob and start a riot against Paul and Silas.

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They Will Want What You Have – Acts 13:4,9-12

“So Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit…Saul, also known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked the sorcerer in the eye…Then he said….the Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind…When the governor saw what had happened, he became a believer, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.” (Acts 13:4,9-12, NLT)

Barnabas and Paul’s first missionary journey was undertaken by the leading and in the power the Holy Spirit.

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Bold! – Acts 4:31

“When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness” (Acts 4:31, HCSB).

Because Peter and John had healed a man who was lame from birth by the power of God and “were teaching the people and proclaiming the resurrection from the dead, using Jesus as the example” (vs. 2), the Sadducees became provoked.

These religious authorities did not believe in resurrection because they did not think it was taught in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament, which was the only portion of Scripture they believed authoritative.

So they had Peter and John arrested!

When Peter and John appeared before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious tribunal, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and boldly, passionately and persuasively proclaimed the gospel of Jesus to save and heal to these religious leaders.

The members of the Sanhedrin were amazed by the boldness of Peter and John, knowing they were not formally educated in the Jewish law. So, the Sanhedrin turned them loose but forbid them to preach and teach in the name of Jesus.

Peter and John answered that they could not stop telling the story of Jesus.

The boldness of Peter in this situation stands in contrast to his denial of Christ on the night of His arrest before He was crucified.

Boldness is referenced three times in Acts 4:1-31 (vs. 13, 29, 31):

  1. The boldness of Peter and John was observed by the Jewish religious leaders (vs. 13);
  2. the Church in Jerusalem prayed for boldness to proclaim the gospel (vs. 29); and
  3. the Church was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness (vs. 31).

Being bold is both a desired and essential behavior for Christians. Boldness was needed by the disciples in the early Church. Boldness is needed in the Church today!

Besides helping us speak the right words at the right time, boldness helps us persuade people about the truth of the gospel because they can see that we actually believe what we say they should believe.

We should pray and ask God for boldness and then expect God to empower us with boldness to speak and live righteously as a convincing witness and testimony to the gospel of Jesus in our lives.

“Therefore, having such a hope, we use great boldness.” (2 Corinthians 3:12, HCSB)

Running the Family Business – Matthew 25:29-30

“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:29-30, NLT).

One of the parables Jesus told in response to questions from His disciples about the end of the world and when it will occur was about a man leaving on a journey who entrusted his business to his servants while he was gone.

He gave five bags of silver to one, two to another, and one to another, each according to his ability.

The servant with five bags of silver invested it and gained five more, the servant with two gained two more, but the servant with one hid it in a hole in the ground.

When the master returned and settled accounts with them, the servants receiving the five and two reported they gained the same amount back and the master rewarded them accordingly.

The servant burying his money returned it and the master rebuked him for not making any interest on his money and gave his one bag of silver to the servant with ten.

Jesus told this story as a warning to his disciples that they should be occupied with the business of advancing His Kingdom until He returns to claim it. But, in retelling this story, we commonly highlight the achievements of the faithful servants to the neglect of the unfaithful servant, who was really the focus of the story.

The parable reminds us that we must be good stewards of the gifts and abilities God gives us to advance His Kingdom.

In other words, we must be productive citizens of God’s Kingdom!

Now, if we interpret this parable to mean that the servants represent believers or disciples of Jesus, then the fate of the servant who received one bag of silver causes me some concern, even alarm!

It means that Jesus is essentially saying that whoever does not use their God-given gifts and abilities to be productive for the Kingdom of God will not only lose what God has given them, it will be given to productive citizens, and the unproductive ones will be cast aside or separated from God!

And, everyone who is productive will be given more, even to an abundance!

Depending on your theological position, either the unfaithful servant was never “saved” in the first place or he lost his “salvation” somewhere along the way because of his unfaithfulness.

Regardless of your theological point of view, you must conclude that this parable is a stern warning that a faithful servant must remain faithful to the end by remaining occupied with the business of advancing God’s Kingdom, be being productive for God’s Kingdom.

God has left the family business in our care. He expects us to run it for Him and be productive in running it until Jesus returns!