Discipling the Ordinary
Every week we have reviewed the Biblical definition of disciple, expand on it, and tie it to the kind of people our lesson is focusing on. This week we will continue to do that. So, let us review again the Biblical definition of disciple. We read in Luke 14: 27, 33 that it is someone who bears their cross and forsake all and follow Him. We also have read in John 15: 5, 8 that a disciple is someone that abides in Christ and bears much fruit. Two weeks ago we added that since a disciple is a follower of Christ they have responded to Christ invitation come unto Him, take His yoke, learned of Him to be humble and meek and found rest (Matthew 11: 28 – 30). Last week we added that discipleship is based solely on devotion to Jesus Christ, not on following after a particular belief, doctrine or cause. Love and service toward others is the natural outcome of obedience to the Jesus.
To follow Jesus we must be drawn to Him. What about Him draws us to Him? We read in Jeremiah 31: 3, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have drawn you with lovingkindness". It is His love that draws to Him. This love is revealed in Jesus (John 3: 16). Especially, in the way He died. We read in John 12: 32 – 33,
John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
John 12:33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.
What death did He die? We read in Philippians,
Phillipians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
The cross symbolized the final death – without any hope of resurrection; unlike the death sleep we now die. This death Christ conquered. Giving us the hope that if we follow Him, then we too will be resurrected as He was and perhaps not even see this death as Enoch and Elijah (not all will die). The path of discipleship is the path of laying down your life for others as Christ laid it for us (1 John 3:16).
So, in discipleship, you are drawn to cross and follow the path to it. This means that you choose Christ’s path, because you deem it better than yours. In seeing the Cross, you see yourself for what your really are: sinful (Isaiah 6: 5). That is why our lesson states, “Christ’s death was the great equalizer: it showed that we all are sinners in need of God’s grace. In light of the Cross, ethnic, political, economic, and social barriers crumble.” In light of the cross all men are ordinary. But, in the light of men, there are distinctions.
Christ saw beyond that. He saw “…saw the meaninglessness and emptiness of worldly greatness and honor. In fact, in many cases, it was the most “successful” people—the favorably positioned Pharisees, the wealthy Sadducees, and the Roman aristocracy—who troubled Him the most.
In contrast, the “ordinary” people—carpenters, fishermen, farmers, housewives, shepherds, soldiers, and servants—generally thronged and embraced Him.”
This is not to say that some of the wealthy and influential never became disciples. Look at what Paul says of Moses,
Hebrew 11:24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
Hebrew 11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
Hebrew 11:26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
Hebrew 11:27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
Paul himself went through a similar experience as Moses. He chose to leave man’s greatness behind in order to gain the greatness of Christ.
Phillipians 3:4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
Phillipians 3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
Phillipians 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Phillipians 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Phillipians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
Phillipians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
Phillipians 3:10 That I may know him,…
Moses and Paul recognized the meaninglessness and emptiness of worldly greatness and honor. Ellen White says that this should be true for us in the book Steps to Christ, Let us read the passage,
“The closer you come to Jesus, the more faulty you will appear in your own eyes; for your vision will be clearer, and your imperfections will be seen in broad and distinct contrast to His perfect nature. This is evidence that Satan's delusions have lost their power. ... No deep-seated love for Jesus can dwell in the heart that does not realize its own sinfulness. The soul that is transformed by the grace of Christ will admire His divine character; but if we do not see our own moral deformity, it is unmistakable evidence that we have not had a view of the beauty and excellence of Christ" (Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, pp. 64-65).
The point is clear: a true disciple – regardless of what human stock they come from - will be aware of his own sinful heart, because it will be in contrast to the wonderful and matchless charms of Christ. Is the love of God abiding in our heart? Are we being transformed by the grace of Christ? “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).