Giving away the ending of a book at the beginning is something you usually don’t want to do. However, ‘The Disciple’ cannot be correctly understood without the subsequent foundation. All of which is written in this book is simply based on two simple truths which I believe. First, the life of Jesus is God’s blueprint for producing lasting fruit. Second, Jesus is the model of what a disciple is. While they might not seem to be earth shattering at first glance, their implications can change everything we do as followers of Jesus.
Let’s start at the actual source: Jesus. We can read about His life throughout the Gospels and yet miss the obvious. It was through His life, death, and resurrection that salvation was paid for and bought. We can look at His character and we can strive to become like Him. We can look at His works and pray that God uses us in similar and even greater ways.
We can know all of these things and still miss something. Many people throughout time have searched diligently and looked for a new or secret method to reaching their own generation. They have desperately sought after fruitfulness.
Jesus’ life on earth was lived out by doing the will of the Father. Jesus’ life is the Father’s Blueprint for sharing the Good News with the world. Jesus’ actions – what He did, where He went, who He hung out with – His actual life is the picture of God’s perfect plan for producing true and lasting fruitfulness.
The second foundation is this: Jesus is our model of what it means to be a disciple. Most teaching on discipleship focuses on Jesus as the teacher or Rabbi but the Bible goes far beyond these limits. Throughout His life on earth Jesus modelled what being a disciple truly entails.
For example, Jesus didn’t simply teach the disciples how to pray by giving instruction though the Lord’s Prayer. He went and He prayed; He took time and they prayed together. He sent his disciples out to proclaim the Good news, but He proclaimed the good news. He spoke and taught about serving, and He washed their feet.
Perhaps one of the greatest examples Jesus gives us takes place the night before His crucifixion. It is seen when He prays, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Luke 22:42 NLT) Here we see Jesus who when faced with taking up His cross, totally gives Himself to the will of the Father. We see Jesus Himself living out obedience, selflessness, and submission. All of which are things He said we do if we are to be His disciples.
In Jesus we see words and actions operating together. He is the Word. He lived what He spoke. What a beautiful picture it is when we read a scripture like Philippians 2:3-8, which says,
‘Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.’ (NLT)
When we read the gospels and listen to the words Jesus spoke, we realize that what He was telling people to do, He had already done Himself. He calls each one of us to be a disciple, to disciple others, but all of this can only happen when we begin to be transformed into His likeness. He is the example.
‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’
Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)