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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Jesus' Patient School of Discipleship

Have you ever noticed how much the Disciples interrupted Jesus? By the time I'd finished reading through the four Gospels, I'd really started to notice it. Not only did they interrupt, they told him what to do. Remember Peter's rebuke to Jesus: "You will never wash my feet" (John 13:8)? I wish we knew how he emphasized his words. Did he say?
"You will never wash my feet."
 "You will never wash my feet."
 "You will never wash my feet."
 "You will never wash my feet."
 "You will never wash my feet."

As I pondered the learning atmosphere for those in Jesus' classroom for "Discipleship Theology 101," I thought of these points and how they can encourage us.

There was freedom in this group of followers to be themselves. Peter was abrupt and impulsive; Thomas was negative. Each disciple added to the mix—some strengths and some weaknesses. Yet, Jesus didn't require them to leave their personalities at the door for acceptance into His School of Discipleship.

There was immense patience by Jesus. This is the most obvious point. Jesus always answered their questions, yes, sometimes with a parable, but He answered patiently. A few times, he does seem to be frustrated but He still gave a gentle rebuke.

There was confidence Jesus would listen. The disciples would only have had the freedom to interrupt if they were confident Jesus would listen to them. If Jesus hadn't been a good listener, at the end of their three years together, the disciples would have been brow-beaten into fearful silence.

Instructor Training To Child Stock PhotoThere was peace that Jesus would not reject them. I really have a sense that Jesus never indicated rejection or communicated condemnation. If there had been that kind of atmosphere, the disciples would have been much more cautious in what they said and they would have stifled their unique personality. I don't have a sense they did that.

There was learning going on in an interactive way. Jesus' school for disciples wasn't just a lecture class. Jesus pointed out spiritual truth based upon their surroundings as they walked along. It also wasn't a school of "Don't do what I do, do what I say." No, Jesus modeled the spiritual walk as they literally walked—and ate, and ministered to others. 

There was acceptance of imperfections and the weaknesses of their personalities. Of course, Jesus didn't condone sin, I don't mean that. But He knew their transformation would take a long time and it would happen even more quickly when the Holy Spirit indwelt them. Peter became a leader and controlled his impulsiveness. Thomas gave up his doubt and negativity. 

I'm so encouraged by meditating on these things. Because I'm currently in Jesus' Theology Class 101 and I sure do interrupt and argue. In fact, I just sometimes head off on my own. But Jesus patiently calls me back, puts His arm around me and asks me a question!

(Photo courtesy of sattva at www.freedigitalphotos.net) 

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