Discipline the Disciple

Job Title:  Disciple (12 positions available)

Internship:  Each disciple will have the opportunity to spend valuable time with the Master Teacher.  You will be taught the ways of the Master Teacher.  Your interactions with the other interns and strangers will be observed and noted.  You will have one-on-one time with the Master, as well as hear him teach in a group setting.  Your discipline, commitment and humility will be taken into consideration.  This is a rigorous training program.

Job Description: Upon satisfactory completion of the internship, each disciple will be ordained.  You will have authority to cast out evil spirits.  You will also have the power to heal every kind of disease and illness.

Requirements:  Give up your current lifestyle.  Travel up to 100%.  Don’t carry money.  Don’t bring a change of clothes.  Accept hospitality wherever you go, because you won’t be paid otherwise.  In every town you visit, find a trustworthy person to house you and then bless them.  If you don’t feel welcome in a household or town, don’t be afraid to remove your blessing.  But first shake the dust off your feet and then leave town.  Don’t look back.

Experience:  No experience necessary.  Perfect people need not apply.

Other Duties As Assigned:  Be a sheep among wolves.  Be as shrewd as snakes but harmless as doves.  Give as freely as you have received.

Occupational Hazards:  You will be flogged with whips in the house of worship.  You will stand before kings and governors.  No.  Not for honors.  You’ll be on trial.  Oh.  You will be arrested.  One of you will be sent to live in exile for a time and later die of natural causes.  One will betray me and then commit suicide.   The rest of you will be killed in the line of duty.

Additional Information:  This is a tough job.  It isn’t for the faint of heart.  Oh.  You may wonder how hard it could be to follow one man.  You may think it would be easy to travel and explain to strangers that Jesus is the hope of all times.  How tough can that be?  Who would find that message offensive?  This work isn’t for the naïve or cautious person.

Advancement Potential:  Three will be chosen to be the Inner Circle.

Results:  Twelve were chosen.  A motley crew.  Two sets of brothers. Several fishermen.  A tax collector.  A zealot.  Some had hot tempers.  Some were born leaders.  All were called.  Some would later write letters to the churches they started.

These men were chosen.  Handpicked.  On purpose.  For a purpose.  Oh.  There was nothing special about these men.  Nothing extraordinary.  But Jesus saw potential.  He knew the pressures they would face.  He knew they would make mistakes.  He knew they would desert him when he needed them most.  Yet  he called them.  He welcomed them into his life and ministry.  He challenged them to go forth and spread his good news to the ends of the earth.


I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.  Philippians 3:14


I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.  I wonder.  If Jesus was walking this earth today, would he choose me to be one of his twelve?  Would I make the cut to be part of that close-knit group who traveled with him?  Would I be given the power to perform miracles?  Would I be able to heal people?  Would I be willing to forsake all others and follow him?  To the ends of the earth?  Would I?

But then.  Jesus is no longer walking on this earth in person.  But I can still choose to walk with him in spirit.  In thought, word and action.  I have the same power inside me that was given to those twelve disciples.  Right now.  Oh.  I haven’t been called on to heal people.  I’ve never performed a miracle.  But I choose to follow at all cost.

I agree.  This is a daunting role.  A reckless lifestyle.  I’ve made my choice.  I don’t know if I would have been chosen to be part of the twelve.  I dare not think I’m worthy to be part of the Inner Circle.  It doesn’t matter what the role is that I’ve been given, I want to be worthy of the prize.  When my final breath is taken, I want to see Jesus as my King and my Savior.  I choose to be a disciple.

Seeking Truth

Her name was Mary.  Some historians say she was the wife of Cleopas.  The Bible says she was the mother of  two sons, Joseph and James.  She was a friend of Mary Magdalene.  She was a friend of Mary, Jesus’ mother.  She was a disciple of Jesus.

This Mary was at the crucifixion.  She saw Jesus suffer.  She heard him cry out.  It is finished.  She saw him take his last breath.  She went to the tomb early on Sunday morning with burial spices for Jesus’ body.  She and the other women wondered how they would roll the heavy stone away from the tomb.  She saw the angels standing at the tomb with the stone rolled away.  She heard the angel say Jesus was risen.  She saw the empty tomb.   She ran to tell the others that Jesus was gone.  Risen.

He’s risen.  But what does that even mean?  How does a person die and then come back to life?  Where was he if he was suddenly alive again?  Why did he leave behind the clothes in the tomb?  Where did he go?  And angels? How could this even be real?

So Mary and Cleopas packed up and left their friends in Jerusalem.  They left for home.  On the Sabbath.  They had been in town for the Passover celebration.  They were witnesses to the horrible events of the weekend that had claimed the life of the man they were following.  The man they assumed would be their Savior.  Their Messiah.  They and their sons were followers of Jesus.  But this was too much.

Have you ever noticed?  Jesus had a large number of followers who were involved in his life.  No.  They weren’t part of the group of twelve, but they were disciples.   They supported him and his ministry with their own money.  Oh.  They knew he was a great teacher.  They said he was a prophet who performed miracles.  They had hoped he was the Messiah.  But they didn’t yet believe it.

As Mary and Cleopas walked home after the events of Passover week, they were dazed.  Their week of celebrating had ended in tragedy.  In defeat.  The man they knew as a miracle worker was dead.  The man they knew to be a great teacher had been killed.  Oh.  Mary had seen his empty tomb.  She had told Cleopas.  But their hearts didn’t really hear the words the angel had spoken.  He is risen.  He is alive.  It wasn’t possible for one to die and then live again.  Was it?  They heard with their ears, but their hearts didn’t listen.  Until they did.

Jesus was the talk of the town during the Passover weekend.  Rumors were spreading.  Gossipmongers were sharing bits and pieces of the story.  Was it fake news or was it real?  What was the truth?  Was an innocent man put to death?  And for what?  For saying he was king of the Jews?  Oh.  There were those who hoped he was the Messiah.  But he hadn’t been able to save himself.  So how could he be the promised One?

The disciples’ hopes were dashed that weekend.  All they had heard.  All they had seen Jesus do was gone.  Doubt crept in.  Who do we trust?  What should we believe?  Who will now be our Savior?  Our Messiah?  What now?

Should they just set aside all those experiences they had with Jesus? What did that mean? How do they move forward when the one they followed was dead?

Did the people not understand because their hearts weren’t fully open to the truth?  Oh.  They had heard the teachings about the coming Messiah.  They had been taught how he would suffer, be killed and rise from the dead on the third day.  Did they think that would truly happen?  In their lifetime?  Did they realize prophecy was coming to life before their very eyes?   Did they understand that they were part of the resurrection story?


Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.  John 11:25


Jesus appeared to Mary and Cleopas as they walked the Emmaeus road on that Sabbath.  He saw that they were deep in conversation, so he asked to join them.  God kept them from recognizing him as they continued down the road.  They shared the happenings of the week in bewilderment that this man hadn’t heard the news.  But this man shared all the prophesies and teachings about himself as they walked.  Still they didn’t recognize him.  They didn’t know he was talking about himself.  Until they did.

They invited this stranger into their home.  The walk had been long and the day felt even longer.  They were all tired, hungry and dusty.  Stay for a bite.  They said.  And spend the night.  As they sat to eat, the man who had died on the cross just two days earlier broke the bread and gave thanks.  Only then were their hearts and eyes opened to the truth.  This man was Jesus.  The Son of God.  He truly was the Messiah.   He walked with them.  He talked with them.  He broke bread in their home.  He most certainly was alive.

Only then did they see him for who he really was.

What will it take to make us believe that Jesus really is the Christ?  The Son of God?  What will open our hearts?  What will cause us to see Him for who He really is?  Are we so hungry that we’re willing to search for him?  Really search until we find Him as the only Lord of our lives?  Are we drawn to Him so much that we’re willing to read His word?  To seek the truth?

Or.  Do we only seek truth through the eyes and lips of others?  Do we take the words and teachings of others as truth when we haven’t searched for truth ourselves?  Isn’t God’s Word the place of truth?  Do the interpretations of others hold weight when we haven’t tested them against God’s word?  Who can we trust if we don’t trust God to speak the truth?  Why do we tend to believe others over what God’s word says?

What will it take to see the truth?  What will it take to have a heart hungry to know the truth?  Would we believe if Jesus himself were here in person to speak truth to us?  Are our hearts looking for truth?

I have to ask myself.  Am I any different from Mary?  Oh.  I am a believer.  I read my Bible.  I listen to sermons.  I attend a Bible study.  I pray.  I spend time with other believers.  But what truth am I missing?  What is God trying to say to me that I don’t hear or understand?  Is my heart open to the truth?

 

Hope Eternal

I stood there with tears streaming down my face.  The door to the past was closed.  The future uncertain.  Trust was at its lowest.  Fear loomed large.  I cried out to my God.  Please show me hope.  Show me hope today.

Later that morning, as I stood in the rain with my dog, I looked over and saw signs of spring.  Purple hyacinths were popping their heads out of the green.  The yellow of daffodils was opening.  The leaves of the bleeding hearts were rising from the ground.  Peonies were poking through the soil.  I saw hope.  Even in the rain, hope was around me.  Hope of better days.  Hope of new beginnings.  Hope of building trust again.

I saw hope on another day.  Male cardinals vying for the female’s attention.  Loud chirping.  Swooping tails in flight.  Chasing each other through the branches.  I saw hope.  Hope for rebirth.  Hope for renewal.  Hope for dreams fulfilled.

Perhaps there was hope for me.  A phone call.  An encouraging text.  A lunch and movie.  Time with friends.  Renewal.  Rest.  Reset.  Hope.


But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.  For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?  Isaiah 43:18-19


The Israelites had been mistreated for far too long.  They were waiting for a savior.  One to rescue them.  One to right their wrongs.  Oh.  Their suffering became worse before it ended.  Perhaps hope did wane.  Discouragement can cloud hope when it seems as if God isn’t listening.

But God was listening.  He heard their cries.  God offered hope when He sent Moses to deliver them.  And God delivered His people in a mighty way.  Miracle after miracle flowed from his fingertips into their lives.  God proved with his mighty hand that he was in control every step of the way.  God destroyed their enemy in front of their very eyes.

Then Moses turned again to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you mistreated this people? Why did you ever send me? Since I first came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has mistreated this people, and you have done nothing at all to deliver your people.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh: Indeed, by a mighty hand he will let them go; by a mighty hand he will drive them out of his land.”  Exodus 5:22-61 NRSV

This is Easter Week.  Holy Week.  Just the name implies hope.  But in order to see that hope appear, horrible events took place.  The sentencing of an innocent man.  Sentenced to death on a cross.

When Jesus cried out asking why God had forsaken him, I wonder if God turned to him and said.  Now you shall see what I will do by my mighty hand. 

Did Jesus see hope as he was dying on the cross?  Did he see hope for you?  For me?

Oh.  Two days later as he left the tomb very much alive, hope came in a bright light.  Hope rolled the stone away from his tomb.  Hope breathed life into his torn body. Hope shown through him as he appeared to Mary Magdalene.  Hope appeared as he showed his scarred hands to Thomas.

This was a different hope. This was a new hope.  This was hope eternal. Everlasting hope.

Today the daffodil bloomed.