When in Jerusalem it was Jesus’ habit to sit in the temple courts and share thoughts about God and His kingdom. Onlookers initially included people from the community but eventually religious authorities, such as Pharisees and teachers of the law, began to observe and even engage Him. Jesus taught that worship of God is enhanced when we recognize that His love for us is central to everything. He shared that when we are transformed because of a relationship with Him, God’s love will be evident in our everyday behaviour. Jesus also taught that when we regard God’s laws as statements of love as opposed to restrictive guidelines, then true worship becomes possible.
Jesus’ audiences often included those responsible to interpret and teach God’s laws and those who often felt oppressed or restricted by them. Listeners were sometimes confused with what he spoke about but were also intrigued by His teachings. The Gospel of John shares that during one of these sessions Jesus is approached by religious authorities who want Him to endorse the stoning of a woman they have dragged before Him. She has been caught sinning and they want the full punishment of the law to rain down on her. Because of what Jesus does and says (John 8:7-11) the accusers slip away; most likely realizing they are also guilty of some sin and could be punished. Those remaining might have wondered whether the laws, that were central to their lives, were still applicable or whether there was a greater meaning behind them. Jesus never taught that the laws were to be abandoned but that God desires more than ritualistic acts. Throughout His ministry He taught truths about practical applications of God’s guidance. It is these teachings He speaks about when He tell believer’s how His disciples would respond; they would follow His teachings.
Jesus offered truth about who He was. At one point He made the statement that if people just followed His teaching they will know the truth and be set free. He wanted to set them free from the mindset that had developed because of their religious approach to honouring God, an approach that was inhibiting their worship of Him. Their worship appeared to stem from a desire to be obedient rather than to love and honour Him.
Jesus calls those who believe to be His disciples. Unfortunately many hesitate because they think it means following rules that might restrict their behaviour thereby isolating them from their friends and family. Some get into a worship rut and end up going through the motions. They attend weekly service because they should. They read their bible so they can say they did, and they pray ritualistic without pausing to think why they are praying. Some might call themselves followers even though they have skipped the need to seek Jesus truths, study them, apply them to their lives and allow them to transform them such that they want to share those truths with others. Some want the jacket with the word DISCIPLE emblazed across the shoulders without seeking the relationship or understanding what makes disciples; activities that require a yearning for God and time.
Over the next few weeks we are going to share some thoughts as to what makes one a disciple of Jesus, why we should all want to be a disciple, and what are the expectations that come with being a disciple. Our desire is to help free you from the thoughts and actions that hold you captive to routine and prevent you from experiencing what God has intended for us while we are on this earth and when we go to eternity. Please take some time and reflect in your commitment to being a disciple of Christ and ask God to help you change. Seek to worship God in truth, Jesus’ truths.
MCF Prayer Coordinator