I finished reading through the Gospel of John this morning in the Passion Translation. There were three portions that stood out as essential lessons in discipleship. Because they were spoken after Jesus’ resurrection, they are imbued with a profound level of meaning and authority. A clear voice from the other side of death.
First, Jesus admonishes Thomas for his need to see the manifestation of Jesus in his risen body, comparing him to those who believe without having to see:
“Thomas, now that you’ve seen me, you believe. But there are those who have never seen me with their eyes but have believed in me with their hearts, and they will be blessed even more!” (Jn. 20:29)
If I am to walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord, as a true disciple, I do not wait for physical evidence of his grace, his power, his purpose. I seek truth moment by moment, and respond in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s leadership. I am to do this whether I understand it or not, and whether I see physical evidence of his presence or not.
Second, I don’t base my path of discipleship on my past. Jesus says to Peter,
“When you were younger you made your own choices and you went where you pleased. But one day when you are old, others will tie you up and escort you where you would not choose to go…” (Jn. 21:18)
Having been a Christ-follower for some 35 years now, I am not accountable to who I was in relationship to him 35 years ago, but who I am in relationship with him now. As a minister of Christ, I don’t simply make my own choices and go where I please, as I did when I was young. I am called to make choices that are pleasing to him and only go where he calls me to go. This is the only way I can stay on the right path or effectively disciple others. I am to do this even if it leads me to a peculiar type of suffering and death, as it did Peter.
Third, I am not to compare my journey with Christ to anyone else’s as a basis for my obedience. When Peter asks Jesus about his plans for John, he replies,
“If I decide to let him live until I return, what concern is that of yours? You must still keep on following me.” (Jn. 21:22)
It’s not my business what Jesus has planned for those around me, except to the extent that I can bless and encourage them to pursue his plans. I’m not to compare myself with others, or take offense if they have a different calling, or criticize how they walk it out. This usually leads to jealousy, covetousness, stuckness. It is sufficient to take heed unto myself (see Lk 8:18, 17:3; 1 Cor 10:12; 1 Tim 4:12; 1 Tim 4:16). God watches over his servants, helping them each to stand secure in the respective places and purposes to which he has called them.
So–we don’t wait for physical signs to choose faith and obedience. We don’t look to the past as our standard for discipleship in the present or future. And we don’t seek validation by comparing our progress or purpose with others.
I think I got it, Jesus. Now, please help me to live it.
Peace, love and joy in him, and Thanksgiving blessings to all who read this!
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