The Requirements and Assurances of Being Christ’s Disciple.

Luke presents Jesus as the Son of Man, rejected by Israel, offered to the Gentiles. In this presentation, Jesus is seen as a universal Savior. The second book written by Luke, Acts is about the ministry of Jesus’ disciples after Jesus rose from the dead and went back to Heaven. In Acts we see the Gospel of Jesus spread from Jerusalem in Israel all the way to the ends of the known world.

In Luke 11, we read of the Jewish leaders rejecting Jesus and becoming angry with what He taught them. In Luke 12:1-12, Jesus speaks in response to the confrontation with the Pharisees. There are thousands of people there to see him, but Jesus speaks first to his disciples.

Jesus taught and warned His followers of the requirements and the assurances of being His disciple, both then and in the future. Jesus does not give all of the requirements of discipleship, but we will look at three of these requirements and the assurances that go along with them. If I am a follower of Jesus, a disciple, then what does He require of me? And what can I be assured of as His disciple?

Avoid Hypocrisy (Luke 12:1)

Hypocrisy was characteristic of the Pharisees; see Jesus' condemnation for them in Luke 11:39-52. God created the outside and the inside of the cup. Man might be impressed with an outward show, but God knows the heart.

If you are a follower of Jesus, then He requires that you avoid hypocrisy, because you can be assured that what is inside will inevitably come out (Luke 12:2-3). At the final judgment, all men and women will be exposed for who they are. Sometimes in this life men and women are exposed for who they are (negatively). Society loves to pounce on hypocrisy, especially religious hypocrisy. Sometimes men and women are exposed for who they are (positively). The Christian knows that he is the worst of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15), and heeds the warnings and maintains a lifestyle of obedience. Let’s not only assume the negative about verse 3 – Christ will vindicate those who persevere in obedience.

Fear God and Do Not Fear Man (Luke 12:4-7)

Jesus tells His disciples not to fear man because the most they can do is destroy the physical body. The word “fear” is a passive imperative, used 3 times in these 2 verses. Bible Commentator Wallace explains, “Often passive imperatives are either prohibitions or commands addressing emotional states.” This points to a natural tendency that the Christian should not give himself over to. We should dismiss these fears because the most that humans can do is destroy our physical body.

Instead, Jesus says to fear God who can destroy both the body and cast that soul into hell – He has infinite authority. This is a legitimate fear that is too easily dismissed, maybe because we think it is not material, immediate, relevant to day-to-day living, or because we can easily forget about it. The Pharisees did not have this fear when they should have. Jesus word to them, “Woe!” is a picture of God’s divine wrath.

Followers of Jesus are required to fear God and not fear man, because we can be assured that this same Infinite God offers us His intimacy and comfort (Luke 12:6-7). He cares about what is trivial – like birds. He knows us better than anyone else – even down to the hair on our head! He values us – even when we as his disciples fail miserably.

Publicly Profess Christ (Luke 12:8-12)

There are two public responses to Christ: acknowledge Him or deny Him. Those who publicly acknowledge Him will be publicly acknowledged by Him to the hosts of heaven. Those who deny Him will be publicly denied by Him to the hosts of Heaven.

To “confess” (verse 8) is necessarily verbal. Disciples of Jesus must speak of their love for Christ and their allegiance to Him, and we know this because of the wording here and in verses 11-12. The word “deny” in verse 9 can also be translated “disown”, and it stands opposite of “confess.” In other words, the pattern of your life – either confession or denial – will be what you are judged for.

Followers of Jesus are required to publicly profess Christ, because they can be assured that when they do, Christ will publicly profess them, and the Holy Spirit will instruct them (verses 9, 11-12). The first assurance is more understandable through the lens of an “honor/shame” culture. (See Luke 9:23-26.) The second assurance brings comfort when we are told to speak, but don’t know what to say or how to say it. This isn’t a pass on preparing; we should think ahead to when will speak for Christ. God would have us prepare for the opportunity to speak, and He will also be working through us.

Application Points

  • If you are a follower of Jesus, you will avoid hypocrisy, being assured that what is inside will inevitably come out.
  • If you are a follower of Jesus, you must fear God and not fear man, being assured that our infinite God offers you His infinite mercy and comfort.
  • If you are a follower of Jesus, then He requires that you publicly profess Christ, because you can be assured that when you do, Christ will one day publicly profess you and the Holy Spirit will instruct you when you speak the Gospel to others.
  • What about the onlookers in verse 1? They would have heard what Christ taught his disciples, and they would have been welcome to join. What about you?