Welcome back to Wednesday’s devotional! We are thankful for you! Let’s start with some music:
Today’s prayer is Psalm 63:
O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me. But those who seek my life, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. They shall fall by the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals. But the king shall rejoice in God; everyone who swears by Him shall glory; but the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped.
What does it mean to follow Jesus? One person might say, “It means that I go to church.” Another might say, “I pray and I read my Bible every day.” Yet another says, “I believe in Him.” There are many answers a person can give in how they personally interpret following Christ, but few reasons really matter if they are not sourced in Scripture. If left to humanity, the Gospel message itself would never offer the forgiveness it does on the terms that it does to that extent that it does. Grace and eternal life given on the basis of faith alone in Christ does not make sense to the sinner; it’s too free, lacks personal merit, and should be able to be forfeited (but it’s not). The Gospel makes God the star of the show, and His children benefactors of a gift they’re quite unworthy of; yes, it’s true. Let’s talk about following Christ within being believers of this Gospel.
Disciples. The term “disciple” comes from the Greek “mathetes”: it means pupil, student, or learner. Perhaps you notice that the first four letters of this Greek word spell math; it’s no accident. The Greek word “mathema” is where we get the term mathematics: it refers to “that which is learned,” or “what one gets to know,” hence “study” and “science” can be sourced in this word. A disciple is a follower; are you a follower of Jesus Christ? If so, then you really need to hone in on the understanding of the word. If we are to follow Christ, we must be learners of Him. Think about the scene of Mary and Martha within this concept of discipleship, and see what Jesus commends in Luke 10:38-42 (I’ll highlight the discipleship element in the verses):
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
These verses are not meant to downplay the value of service; nevertheless, notice that Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and hear His word; she was taking the role of a disciple. Martha could have sat at Jesus’ feet as well and been a learner; she didn’t know the things Jesus was going to speak, but she felt that having things taken care of behind the scenes was more important. We should note, too, that the writer records her as ”being distracted” with much serving. Distracted…from what, or whom? Jesus. Godly service is best employed when it is well informed; if you want to serve Jesus well, learn Jesus well. Every good servant knows not only who they’re serving but also what they want before they can do an exemplary job. Discipleship is not momentary; it is not merely for children in Sunday School. Discipleship is not reaching a level of mastery to then sit back and relax. Rather, discipleship is lifelong, “infinite game” so long as you’re here. There is no mountain top to reach in discipleship other than the glory on the other side of death or Jesus returning. There is no retirement period on being of a follower of Christ for that matter, either.
Two of John the Baptist’s disciples heard Him speak and they followed Jesus. The one identified in the passage (v. 40) was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. While it doesn’t say it directly, this verse also is showing us the point in time these men no longer followed John the Baptist as their primary teacher. Later on in John 3:22-28, John’s disciples will have concern over people following Jesus more than him.
After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. For John had not yet been thrown into prison. Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified– behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!” John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. “You yourselves bear me witness, that I said,`I am not the Christ,’ but,`I have been sent before Him.’
John didn’t see Jesus as a threat to his ministry, but as a fulfillment to the reason for his ministry. So much can be learned from John the Baptist when it comes to serving Christ; our goal is for others to follow Jesus, not us. We point to Him; we teach Him to others; we serve because of Him; after all is said and done, and He’s the one praised rather than us, isn’t that really the plan? Serving Christ and expounding upon Him is a means to an end, and that end is redeemed people growing in spiritual maturity and giving God the glory as they are brought into greater alignment with Him. How easily we soon forget!
The two disciples heard Him. In Luke 9:35, God the Father speaks and the verse says, “And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” The word “hear” in Luke 9:35 sums up well the listening that has to be done when it comes to following Christ. The Father commands them to hear Him (us too). In its usage in Luke 9:35, the word means “to give careful attention to; to heed” (BDAG Lexicon, Bibleworks). Many people will hear the word of God at some moment in life if not multiple times, but will they give careful attention to the words of Christ and to the Bible in general? Will they heed it? Heeding the words of Jesus comes prior to following Him. They followed is not simply saying that they tagged along; the word here implies “following someone as a disciple” (BDAG Lexicon, Bibleworks) and we know that a disciple is a learner. They stuck with Him to learn from Him so that they could be like Him.
It is evident even now that Jesus is not just looking for believers in Him; He’s looking for disciples, students who sit at His feet to hear Him and to learn not only what He says but to carefully watch Him as well. Listen closely to His words, heed those words, follow Him in obedient submission to Him, and you are beginning to hold a biblical model of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Let’s close with some questions to consider and a song you know well:
How can you improve on being a student of the Word?
How can you point others to God today?
Thursday is our grocery pickup day – if you are not sure about going out in the world, we can pick up groceries, sanitize them and deliver them to you. Just contact us by phone with your list and we will do our best!