How do we grow as disciples of Jesus? How do you answer that question? What has been most helpful thing for you in following Jesus and growing as you have done so?
We saw in reset 1 that disciples know and believe the gospel. They learn and leave as they follow Jesus. And they grow to love Jesus as they spend time with him. But how do we do that?
It’s tempting for us to think that’s OK for Peter, James, John, Thomas and the others. They had a three year intensive front row seat to see and listen and learn from Jesus. But what about us? How do we grow as disciples? How are we challenged and confronted and taught and reformed by him? How do we learn to live to follow Jesus? How do we see more of him and his character and God’s plan and purposes? How do we grow in our love for him?
Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall with Jesus just of one day? Are we destined to a second rate discipleship because we can’t see Jesus? Be honest, haven’t you sometimes found yourself thinking that? That it would have been easier?
The Bible is clear that we’re not doomed to a second rate discipleship by Jesus ascension. In fact Jesus says we’re blessed to live after his ascension, after the clarity of the cross, and to live in the age of the Spirit indwelling all of God’s people, writing his laws on our hearts.
As Jesus prepares his disciples for life lived after his ascension and for making disciples after his ascension he doesn’t suggest that their task is harder, that someone they and those that follow will miss out because he isn’t there. Instead Jesus prepares them by teaching them the scriptures. Again and again in the gospel Jesus uses scripture. Again and again in his discipleship intensive he teaches his disciples how to read the scriptures and apply them rightly. Even after his resurrection Jesus teaches them how all of the law and prophets point to him, on the road to Emmaus before he reveals he is alive again! He teaches them how in the scriptures we have God’s word to us. And the Apostles are to go and make disciples as they teach and apply the word of God.
In 2 Timothy 3 the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy, a second generation disciple of Jesus, who hasn’t seen Jesus, but who is following him. Paul has known Timothy since he was a young man, probably a teenager and has played a key role in discipling him.
Timothy is now in Ephesus helping establish the church there. Battling against false teachers (2v14-3v9) who have infiltrated the church. And Paul writes to Timothy about how he is to continue and grow as a disciple and make disciples. There is no sense of Timothy having missed out, but Paul has every expectation that Timothy will grow as a disciple, that he can know Jesus, that he will love Jesus more even in very difficult situations, how? As he gives himself to study of scripture.