THE GROWTH OF THE DISCIPLE
Luke 9:37 50
The Christian life begins with a commitment. This commitment makes one a disciple of Jesus Christ. It brings the
life of the person under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. But this is just the beginning of the life.
The commitment will be followed by struggles which should result in growth. After His presentation of the call for
commitment, and the confirmation of the commitment on the Moun¬tain of Transfiguration, Luke puts together
several instances that demonstrate this need for growth. They were committed, and some of them had received
some wonderful confirma¬tion, but they were still struggling. They were still growing.
It may be that some of those struggles you are experiencing are a call to growth. God may be using the
circumstance to confront you with the need to grow. Let's look at this passage to discover some areas in which all
of us need to grow.
I. WE MUST GROW IN FAITH.
The scene which greets our Lord when He came down from the mountain was not encouraging. He was
immediately confronted with a case of extreme need and a helpless group of disciples. A distressed father made
the need known to Him. He had brought his only son to the disciples for a cure only to find them unable to help.
His son was a hard case. The young man was afflicted by a demon. The demon would throw him into seizures
which looked much like a case of epilepsy. Many scholars think that the boy was epileptic and that the malady was
aggra¬vated by the demon. The condition had proven to be very harmful to the boy. Mark reports that the demon
had also afflicted the boy with dumbness. He was not able to speak.
The disciples should have been able to help the young man. They had been given special authority over the
demoniac and over diseases. They had been able to bring deliverance to others. In Luke's account the Lord's
reaction was directed to the whole company. He said, "0 faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be
with you, and suffer you?" The other gospels tell us that the Lord pointed to the lack of faith on the part of the
disci¬ples. If we are to function as effective disciples of our Lord, faith is an essential.
A. Spiritual power comes through faith.
The power that we need to do the work we have been assigned as disciples comes through our dependence and
faith in the Lord. Evidently this group of disciples began to assume that the power was just upon them, and would
always be upon them. They failed to recognize that if they wavered in faith they would lose their power over the
forces of evil. In the other gospel Jesus pointed to their prayerlessness as the cause of their little faith. This
makes our growth in faith a matter of high priority.
B. Faith is also the way we honor the Lord.
The Lord was concerned that He had been with them so long and that they still did not have confidence in Him. It
made them a burden to be borne. If we are to honor our Lord through the service that we do for him, it must be an
expression of our faith in Him. We must rely upon Him. Unbelief is a terrible reflection upon our Lord.
This incident gives emphasis to the importance of our faith. Not only do we suffer privation when we do not grow in
faith, but those to whom we should minister also suffer. Every one of us have opportunity to minister to others.
What we offer to them in ministry will be dependent upon our faith. When we trust in the Lord with a growing faith it
enables us to bring help to the bound and broken of our world. Every disciple needs to grow in faith.
II. WE MUST GROW IN UNDERSTANDING.
While the disciples were still amazed at the deliverance of the boy by the power of God, Jesus spoke to them of
the cross again. "Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands
of men". It does not spell it out in detail, but they should have been able to catch the thrust of it. "The Son of Man"
was not ordinarily under the control of anyone. He was to be a sovereign figure. Yet Jesus announced with
certainty that He would be "delivered" into the hands of men. This word indi¬cates that it was to be by divine
permission. Their being able to take Him would be a clear indication of the will of the Father rather than an
indication of their power. The men to take him are not identified here, but we should assume that they are the
same ones mentioned earlier the priests, scribes and elders.
A. The hindrance to understanding is in us.
Luke says, "But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they
feared to ask him of the saying." What caused it to be hid from them? Some have indicated that God was the
cause of it being hidden. But why would the Lord have spoken of it to them if this was something God was trying to
hide from them? Others have placed the blame on the devil. It is true that he does hinder our efforts to grow in
knowledge and understanding. But it is better to understand that the problem was in the disciples themselves.
They were hindered by their prejudices and preconceptions. They already had their mind made up about how the
Messiah would come, and surely about how He would accomplish His mission. They had based their expectations
upon a worldly understanding of things.
This is a problem for each of us. Our greatest hindrance to growth in understanding is in us. We do not come to
the Lord with a teachable spirit. Nothing is more essential in Christian discipleship that a teachable spirit.
B. The help is in the Lord.
If we need help in growing in our understanding, it is available to us. By asking a question, by admitting their need,
the disciples would have put themselves in a position to receive help. That He was ready to help is indicated by
His attempt to teach them in the first place. He was and is the Master teacher, the source of all light and
understanding of the things of God.
Full understanding is not given to the disciple at the moment of commitment. The Lord does not automatically fill
your heart and mind with the understanding that you need in the way. Rather this understanding must be received
as you walk with the Lord with a teachable spirit. Would the Lord fault you today because of your lack of
III. WE MUST GROW IN HUMILITY.
The last two incidents of our text bring this need before us.
A. The need for growth in humility.
In the first instance the need surfaced in the discussion about who would be the greatest in the kingdom. I may be
wrong, but I wonder if this was not brought up by one of the three who went to the mountain with Jesus. It would be
natural for one of them to interpret such a privilege as indicating that they were destined for a special place in the
kingdom. They were guilty of placing too much importance upon themselves, and of seeking too much for
The second incident demonstrates the same kind of need. The manner in which Jesus spoke in the first instance
caused John to wonder about the action he had taken. When he had seen an unknown man casing out demons in
the name of Jesus, he had stopped him because he was not one of the company. This was a demonstration of
pride. It is sinful pride that makes us feel that we are the only ones serving the Lord. It is pride that makes us
become intolerant of others in their attempt to serve the Lord. It is pride that makes us demand that they serve
Him just like we serve him.
B. The expression of humility.
Jesus helps us understand humility. He took the little child, "And set him by him". Then he said, "Whosoever shall
receive this child in my name receiveth me for he that is least among you all, he shall be great". The child
represents all of the weak and helpless people of the world. We are to have the kind of humility that enables us to
go forth and serve them in any way that we can. They are the people from whom you can expect no return for
serving them. They are the people that can bestow no honor upon you in return for your service. You serve them
simply because of your relationship to the Lord. You serve them in His name.
Humility is that in us which enables us to affirm the place of the brother who is serving the Lord who may not be a
part of our company. Jesus stated it so pointedly, "Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us". It is not
our business to judge or control others, but rather to make sure that our service for Him is correct.
Such humility is an absolute essential if we are to know any effectiveness as disciples. We will miss out on the
potential greatness that lies before us without it.
This passage of scripture is a comfort to us in a rather strange way. It is comforting to know that our struggles are
not all that unusual. It is comforting to know that the struggles do not mean that we have not made the
commitment. Even after we have committed ourselves to be disciples, still we must grow.
But it is also a challenge to us. The degree of effectiveness we know as disciples will depend upon our ability to
identify those areas of need in our lives, and then begin to work on them. The Lord stands ready to help us grow
in those areas. He never gave up until this group of men were marked by faith, understanding, and humility. He
will do the same for you.