Every Jew in Jesus time recited the Shema, (named so after the first word of the text in Hebrew) often more than once a day as we find it in Deuteronomy :” Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength”. This was the creed, prayer and focus of their faith. When Jesus was asked about the core of his beliefs and lifestyle he quoted this verse. And added to it another verse from Leviticus. (Deut 6:1-6 and Lev 19:18)
Read Matthew 22:34-40
- Recite Jesus’s direct words out loud. Do it with passion! This is the essence of what Jesus believed, taught and lived. Repeat until you will be able to remember it well.
- Think about the faith journey up to now, about what you experienced and how the Lord led you to follow him. Remind each other how all of this fits into these few words. You can become like Jesus by loving as he did. There is no choice to be made between loving God and loving other people that crosses your path. Minister to each other with God’s love.
In the end, it is only love that remains.
Upside down again?
Jesus did not have any ambition to become the king of Israel, although many of his followers thought that he would be the perfect candidate to call the nation to arms, chase the Romans into the sea and take up David’s throne in Jerusalem. What Jesus did have was absolute passion to do the father’s will even if that meant that He would lay down his life. While Jesus spoke about his coming humiliation and death just before, his disciples had to learn the lesson again. Because most of them were teenagers, Mrs Zebedee, the mother of two of them, had to learn the lesson as well!
Read Matthew 17:20-28
- To follow Jesus, means that everything in my life have to submit under Jesus and the will of the Father. Is there something in your life that will prevent you from following Jesus with consuming passion, even unto death if need be?
- Becoming like Jesus implies that I have to serve others as a slave of old would. What does that mean within our cultural context today?
Comment: In the early church there were times when it was not unusual at all that believers were expected to die for their beliefs if need be and there are many stories from history testifying to their commitment. Many were willing to die rather than denying Jesus even when they had the opportunity to go free. Today the same is happening in many countries where there is no tolerance for followers of Jesus at all.
Tell me where your passion is and I will tell you where your heart is.
You will remember that the issue of relationships was the very first on the agenda when Jesus started to disciple his group: the brother, the irritating person, the marriage partner and even the enemy. In this passage Jesus took his disciples again through the same issues, but now he went much deeper. It was necessary, because a Kingdom lifestyle has a much stronger impact on outsiders than mere words.
A disciple’s life tells about his rabbi and is a witness for good or bad without any chance of hiding it.
Read Matthew 18:1-20:16
- Make a list of all the categories that Jesus mentioned in this passage.
- Write down one sentence next to each item in the list that will help us to live a Kingdom lifestyle.
- Which of these addresses you personally? Be specific and tell the group. Take responsibility as a group to help each other to live like Jesus did.
This section touches many aspects of the life and conduct of a disciple. Spend time thinking and meditating on this set of passages – it may take you a few weeks before you are ready to continue. Many of these issues will only come to light if you discuss it with others. Therefore a small group o disciples travelling together through life is indispensable, just as with Jesus and his group. Even more, He himself will be present as He promised.
On a personal level: What does your lifestyle tell about who Jesus is?