A disciple of Jesus is one who learns from him. The learning of a disciple is more than gaining knowledge, it is taking on the character and ways of the teacher. A disciple sees the world the way his teacher does and is concerned with what the teacher cares about.
Two stories in the New Testament make discipleship learning clear to us. In the first one (John 6), Jesus is teaching some challenging truths about his body and blood being the way of eternal life. He is talking about how a person must trust in his death to find their life. His language is strange to his listeners ears, and some of them turn back from following him. When Jesus asks the disciples if they want to turn back, too, Peter says, “Lord, where would we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
The second story takes place after Jesus died, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven (Acts 4). Peter and John have been arrested for preaching that Jesus is alive. As they give their defense before the religious leaders who denied the resurrection, Peter and John amaze them with their boldness. It was clear that these two followers of Jesus were not formally educated in a religious school. But, it was also clear that they had learned from Jesus. Their understanding of Scripture and their bold, clear preaching made it evident that they were Jesus’ disciples.
These two stories taken together tell us that the disciples of Jesus learned from him. They sat with him, listened to his words, and believed him. They took his words to heart and staked their whole lives on them. They heard with faith and learned the ways of eternal life.
You and I can learn from Christ. Christ has given us his Spirit, his word, and his church. We can sit before him every day with open Bible and receptive hearts. We can pray the prayers of the psalmist; open our eyes, give us life, turn our hearts and teach us your ways (Psalm 119). The words of eternal life in Christ can be our food and we can follow him.
We can do this as a congregation. Through preaching, teaching, and discussing the Scripture, we can trust that the Holy Spirit is among us and will teach us. We can learn together.
Here is a vision for your life and our church; we can learn from the One who has the words of life. We can live in our world with humble but bold clarity about truth and eternal life. And, we can testify to our city that no one but Christ has the words of eternal life.
Will you pray with me this weekend that this vision will become a reality?
I look forward to worshipping with you Sunday.