Based on Texts: Matthew Chapters 4 & 5
Series Synopsis: According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus begins his ministry by calling the first disciples (Chapter 4) and establishing a set of standards for his disciples to live by (Chapters 5 to 7, the Sermon on the Mount). Based on the Epiphany lectionary texts for January 26 to February 16 (Matthew Chapters 4 & 5), the worship series that covers 4 Sundays broadly summarizes the way of disciples in 4 movements.
Jesus' disciples are called to:
“Just - Follow Him”,
“Do - What God Requires”,
“Be – Salty”, and
“Go – NUTS”.
1st Movement: “Just – Follow Him” (Heart of Disciples)
Text: Matthew 4:12-23
Synopsis: There were many who followed Jesus as spectators and seekers. But only a few were disciples of Jesus. When Andrew and Simon Peter first approached Jesus, he asked them, “what are you looking for?” They were seekers, seeking something or someone. But ultimately, Jesus called them out, to be his disciples, to follow him and participate in his kingdom work. Jesus seeks us and calls us always, to follow him as disciples. Being a disciple of Jesus is a life calling, life assignment. You are on God’s mission for life. At the heart of all disciples is this singular commitment to “Just - Follow Him”.
2nd Movement: “Do – What God Requires” (Practice of Disciples)
Texts: Micah 6:1-8, Matthew 5:1-12
Synopsis: Foreign nations and empires were constantly threatening Israel from all sides. And God repeatedly warned them of their sinfulness through the prophets to repent and turn around – but over and over they ignored the warnings – and even confronted God with a defiant attitude and even mocked God --- “Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams?”. The Prophet Micah told them to do what God requires - to “do justice”, “love kindness”, and “walk humbly with God”. When Jesus called his first disciples, the first thing he did was to give them a simple standard of practice required for them to live by - a set of 8 blessed life (Matthew 5:1-12). As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to “Do - What God Requires” of us.
3rd Movement: “Be – Salty, Not Selfie” (Lifestyle of Disciples)
Text: Matthew 5:13-20
Synopsis: Jesus says, “you are the salt of the earth.” As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to bring flavour and freshness to the world. This is the lifestyle for Jesus disciples – to be salty, not to seek or draw attention to self, but to immerse us into the world to keep it fresh and bring flavour and disappear like salt does. So, “Be Salty, Not Selfie”
4th Movement: “Go – NUTS” (Ethics of Disciples)
Text: Matthew 5:17-37
Synopsis: Jesus said, “I have come, not to abolish, but to fulfill the law.” (5:17). And Jesus modeled his disciples how the law is to be fulfilled by setting a radical ethical principle, distinct from the old way: “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’ --- But I say to you if you are angry ---.” His ethical standard both radically departs and fulfills the ancient law. As Jesus disciples, we are called, not to abolish, but to fulfill the law. This requires uncommon wisdom. It requires employing an art more than science, following the spirit of law more than the letters of the law, risk-taking more than preserving self or the status quo, and even seen as NUTS. Jesus was called crazy and a nut by the powers of the world. Unless our ethical standard resembles Jesus, then we would be in danger of compromising and selling out our souls to the values and ethics of this world. And that would truly be nutty.