Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Discipleship – Call for MissionPsalm 119:33-40
“Establish Your word to your servant who is devoted to fearing You.”
What is the difference between a disciple and a devotee? A disciple follows the Master and His lifestyle whereas a devotee listens to the master all through the day. In other words, the Master’s character as well as His call for mission will, in due course, manifest in the life of a disciple. A devotee is interested in doing all the peripherals to please the Master.
The Psalmist, through verses 33-40, is pleading with the Lord to make him a true disciple. He intuitively knows that it is a goal humanly impossible to achieve. Therefore, he hopes to accomplish it with the help and grace of the Lord.
The Psalmist uses different terms to describe the Word of God. He calls it by the terms ‘Statutes, Commandments, Law, Word, Testimonies, Judgements and Precepts.’ He is beseeching the Lord to hold him in full control: his mind, his heart, his walk, and his eyes are all submitted before the Lord to be transformed in full obedience of the Master’s will. The Psalmist also wants the Lord to protect him from covetousness and reproach. He continuously prays that the Lord to revive him in righteousness and in the ways of the Lord.
During His public ministry, Jesus was the absolute model for the disciples. He grew up in the favor of God and men. We learn from the gospel according to John that God and His Word are inseparable and truly one in essence – John 1:1. The Bible also registers that: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14.
Jesus hand-picked His twelve disciples. He did not choose them according to the worldly merits of education or nobility. He chose them from the lower strata of society. From the time of Moses, the Levi tribe was authorized to carry out the priestly functions and instruct the people on matters concerning the Law. During the time of Jesus and afterwards the Pharisees, Scribes and the Sadducees had usurped the authority on such matters. The high priest and Sanhedrin (assembly of the elders of Israel) passed judgements on most serious issues of the public.
However, on general matters, Sadducees, Pharisees, and Scribes were the arbitrators in conflict of religious and cultural issues. Bible scholars are of the opinion that these three groups cannot be linked to any tribe, but they were associated with the socio-economic class of the day.
Jesus told his disciples to “abide in Him.”- John 15:4. It is synonymous with what the Psalmist is praying for. He is pleading with the Lord to ‘establish the Word to him.’ Jesus is very plain and straight with His disciples that they cannot bear fruit if they don’t abide in Him. When the Master and disciples reach the level of such association, the character of the Master will be manifested in the life of the disciple. The fruit of the spirit it produces will reveal this truth to all around them that it is really from the Lord, and they are Jesus’ true disciples indeed.
When Jesus called His disciples, there were three distinct purposes for His call:
- Preaching the gospel
- Healing the sick
- Teaching how to live in this world.
Jesus asked His disciples to declare that the Kingdom of God is at hand. He instructed them precisely the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of the mission. From the Book of Acts and the epistles, we understand that because of the mission journeys the disciples took, the gospel spread prolifically through the continents. Jesus, during His earthly ministry, healed the sick wherever He preached.
The disciples continued in His footsteps, carrying out the healing ministry to places they travelled. Also, Jesus’ teaching was illustrated through worldly parables. These parables are chosen not to just make the perception of listener clearer but also to give disciples the hint that their ministry is going to be in the world. When we study the epistles in detail, we make out that they constitute the pages of a manual for Christian living in this world.
In summary, discipleship and mission are inseparable. One cannot be a true disciple of Christ if he/she ignores the mission part.
Dear Lord, give us strength to pick up the cross and follow you in the paths you have treaded.
“To be a disciple is also to be disciplined in our bodies, minds and souls.”- Billy Graham.
Sehion Mar Thoma Church, Dallas