Posts Tagged ‘disciple’

love scriptureJesus is standing before his disciples and others in a conference room in the public library in Capernaum. They are wrapping up  DiscipleShipConference.

Jesus: So, now you know why I’m not putting anything in writing.

Peter: Got it. You want us to behave like you, not become a bunch of Pharisees arguing about what’s right and wrong.

Jesus: Absolutely. It’s important that you behave. Love God and love one another. That’s it. Total deal. The whole tamale. I’m more concerned about what you do than what you believe.

John: We know and believe in your love, Jesus.

Jesus: If you love me, love one another — even your enemies.

James (Jesus’ brother): Isn’t it important to have faith?

Jesus: Of course, but where is faith without love?

James: So, faith without actions is pointless.

Jesus: Correct. Faith without actions is dead.

Judas (winking): I believe you are our redeemer. I’ve 30 denarius that says Jerusalem will be free of Romans in our lifetime!

Disciples (standing): Here! Here! To Jesus, the Messiah!

Jesus (holding up his hands, shaking his head): Sit back down — my kingdom is not of this world. Here it is: I want you to LOVE Romans, not fight them. The kingdom is in your behavior.

John (thoughtfully): You’re not going to liberate Jerusalem, huh?

Jesus: Yes and no. My love will deliver all who come to me and follow my example — like you guys. The Pharisees and lawyers are looking for a King of the Jews to sit on David’s throne and rule according to the Law of Moses. That’s not happening.

John: But isn’t it important that we believe?

Jesus: There’s a problem with believing as a measure of righteousness. That’s why I’m not writing stuff down — it would become a checklist deliniating ‘us’ and ‘them’ instantly. Listen: THERE IS NO THEM.

Peter: Because love covers a multitude of sins. Our love operates in spite of sin.

Jesus: Upon this rock I’ll build my church! You are blessed to be living now. In 1500 years a guy named Luther will reform “Christians” by using scripture and writings instead of my love to resolve a church dispute. The Diet of Worms — a church council — will kick him out of the church. In fact, it’ll be in your church, Peter. He’ll start another one in protest.  That’ll bring on the Reformation and Protestants. ‘Believers’ of the Word will eclipse doers of the Word. Many in the church, on both sides, will forget love comes first.

Andrew: So, some of these “Christians” are going to become Pharisees?

Jesus: That about sums it up. I’m teaching, ‘Behave according to my love.’ Reformers will teach, ‘Believe according to Scripture.’ It’s unbelievably subtle. My behaviors will be in the Scripture, but the emphasis will get warped. Beware! Keep the tension right — the Scripture comes from inspired men piecing together revealed grace and truth, but I AM the fullness of grace and truth.

John: …the fullness of grace and truth…love is the key, right?

Jesus: Yes, love is the key. If you love God and others as I do, your beliefs will grow up just fine.

Tr8: Love God and others unconditionally. Scripture shows us how to behave.

Jesus is talking with Peter, James and John after the transfiguration. He’s trying to explain who he is and where he’s going.

Peter: So, you are going away for three days and then you’ll leave us a parakeet?

Jesus (rolling his eyes): No, Peter, “Paraclete” — it’s Greek — means comforter or encourager.

James: So, you’re bringing in a new disciple? Is it Barnabas? We call him “The Encourager” all the time.  He’s a good man.

Jesus (nodding): Not exactly. Barnabas clearly imitates me, but it’ll be more blatant. I’m going to die, rise again and ascend to heaven. I’m going to leave my Holy Spirit — MY DIVINE NATURE —  behind to live in you and to comfort and guide you. You guys relate to me directly, now, but when I’m gone, I’m going to live IN YOU. By this they’ll know you are my disciples.

John: What could be better than living with you and following you?

Jesus: Just wait. Now it’s from the outside in, in the future I’ll work from the inside out. I’ll literally warm your heart! Abundant life will come from me, who is the Father, living in you, through the Spirit, who is me, who is the Father, who is love, who will lead you.

John: Hang on a second. I want to take notes.  You and the Father are one. You’re saying you only do what the Father tells you. So, you are living out God’s character and your Holy Spirit will live in us, too.

Jesus: Yeah. Put that in a book. After I die I’ll demonstrated the Father’s love, stick around a month or so, then, ascend to the Father. According to most future creeds, I’ll be sitting at the right hand of God, but I’m leaving my Spirit to handle things here, IN YOU.

James: Got it. You and the Father upstairs. Spirit downstairs.

Jesus: The day will come when my Spirit will be ignored a lot. Everyone’ll be looking upstairs. They’ll wonder about what’s going on up there–what’s God up to? Is Jesus vacuuming heaven with the angels? Is he coming back?

Peter: But we can’t see because we’re downstairs.

John: Right. The Spirit is downstairs. With us. You’ll be upstairs, in us.

James: So, you’re saying we need to focus on your Spirit.

Jesus: Yep. The 1st Century church will depend on it. You followed me and saw me in action — a man focused on the Father. In the future you’ll see people and say, “Oh! See that? THAT is SO Jesus!” You’ll know they are filled with my Spirit because they act just like me. I’ll warn you now, Paul and Barnabas will visit Antioch in a few years and will come back and say, “The Gentiles? They’ve acting like Jesus!”

Peter: Who is Paul?

Jesus: Not now, it’ll blow your mind. Just remember, if they live as I live, they have my Spirit.

John (continuing to take notes): So, and I’m guessing here, but we’re going to see people “doing” you. We’ll recognize you IN them.

Jesus (excited): Bingo! You’re so familiar with my way, truth, and life, you’ll be able to spot my Spirit anywhere. You’ll see. When believers get really good at doing me — wired into the Father’s love — they’ll start to heal, raise folks from the dead, turn bottled water into Sangria, and speak in tongues.

James: Just like we do now, with you?

Jesus (tapping James on the chest): Exactly. So don’t stand around looking upstairs after I leave, trying to imagine me, the Father or streets of gold. Remember, MY Spirit is here, in the house.

Tr8: Be filled with the Spirit.

Peter: Okay, what are we going to do about Judas?

James: Wha’d’ya mean? Judas took care of himself.

Peter: No, we need to replace him. There are supposed to be 12 apostles, just like the 12 tribes.

James: What? Where did you get that?

Peter: Isn’t that why Jesus called 12 of us, because of the 12 tribes?

James: I thought it was because there were 12 months. Remember how he did the disciple-of-the-month thing? I was February. Mary used magnets and put our pictures on the refrigerator?

Peter: Hmmm. I thought it was the tribes.

Matthew: I though it was because there are 12 people on a jury.

John: I thought we were a dozen, like a box of donuts.

Andrew: No, basketball. 2 squads and 2 referees. I mean, we ruled at the Temple courts.

Peter: Well, whatever. We need to fill Judas’ position.

John: Maybe we ought to wait and see if the Holy Spirit sends us someone.

Peter: I did a close-your-eyes-and-drop-your-finger in Psalms this morning and got these 2 verses:  ‘May his place be deserted and let there be no one to dwell in it’ and ‘may another take his place in leadership.’ That’s gotta mean something.

James: The first on seems to say we shouldn’t, the second seems to say we should. But, I guess I see where you’re coming from.

John: What if Jesus is going to send us someone? He’s the only one who ever picked disciples.

Peter: Well, we have a couple alternates who have been with us from the beginning. Like Joseph or Matthias. Jesus chose you guys, right?

Joseph: Jesus asked me for a towel after his baptism and I’ve been following ever since.

Matthias: Jesus asked the Baptizer who I was ’cause I was standing a little close during one of their conversations. I’ve been following ever since.

James: Okay, Joseph and Matthias have been with us through it all — from Jesus’ baptism through the resurrection. How shall we decide which one?

John: Best 2 of 3, rock-paper-scissors.

Peter: No, we’ll let God decide. Who has the dice? Evens, it’s Joseph, odds, it’s Matthias.

James: Who roles the dice?

John: Roll the dice and whoever’s number comes up roles the dice. If it’s a double-six roll ’em again.

Peter: Here goes…..9! Simon the Zealot! Come on down!

Simon: Here we go…a 5 and a 4….that’s…that’s

John: 9, Odd.

Peter: Welcome to the crew Matthias! Joseph, better luck next time. There’s water melon in the kitchen.

Matthias: So now what?

Peter: Well, from now on if we need to make a decision or something, you get a vote and you’ll be a group leader in the church.

Matthias: I’m already mentoring a group of Greek guys. You know Stephen, right? He’s in the group.

Peter: Yeah, I know Stephen. You’re doing a good job, Matthias. I guess we didn’t know it, but you’ve been an apostle all along.

Tr8: Do your best wherever you are. Follow Christ’s example even when folks aren’t watching — you may be an apostle and don’t know it.

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35

I like to think about the flesh-and-blood lives of those who knew Jesus. The Witnesses. The people who saw it all. In their lives we see tr8s of Christ.

2day I’m looking at John. Imagine Jesus and John walking down the road with their arms on each other’s shoulders — close.  John is telling a funny story about Jesus’ cousin nearly drowning a Pharisee in the Jordon.

John was a “hugger” and so was Jesus. They were comfortable with proximity.

John and his older brother, James, were the sons of Zebedee and Salome. Jesus called the brothers “The Sons of Thunder”.  Gospel readers know him as the “disciple Jesus loved”. The Catholic Church refers to him as St. John “The Evangelist”.

Originally, he was just a fisherman with an eye on bigger, spiritual things.

John was probably a follower of John the Baptist with two other brothers, Peter and Andrew. As the story goes, the Baptizer points out his cousin – “There goes the guy who’ll take away the sins of the world” – so John decides to follow him a bit. John followed for a few days as disciple-on-loan from Cousin John. Then, he went back to fishing. Later, Jesus officially calls the brothers out at the lake.

In the lists of the Apostles John is always in the top four — usually third, after Peter and his older brother, James. These three were Jesus’ inner circle and were the only witnesses of the raising of Jairus’s daughter, the Transfiguration and Jesus’ night of prayer at Gethsemane.

James, John, and their mother, Salome, were positioned powerfully in Jesus entourage. At one point Salome drags her sons to Jesus and they ask to be his left- and right-hand guys – his capos.  I suspect Jesus smiled.

John and Peter were sent to prepare for the Last Supper. At the supper John sits next to Christ and leans n2 him. John was comfortable in his own skin and was a rel8er — probably an emotional guy. As a “Son of Thunder” I’m guessing people kept their distance.  As a disciple John appears a “hugger” and a team-builder. I imagine he was the kind of guy who would throw his arm over your shoulder and whisper something funny in your ear. He and Barnabas, “the Encourager”, were probably close friends.

John was the “other disciple” (besides Peter) who followed Christ after his arrest n2 the high-priest’s palace. He was bold. He was confident. He knew people in the household, naming two in his gospel. He had none of Peter’s misgivings in the courts. Peter lingers at the gate. John went in. John remembered names.

John was the only disciple to remain with Jesus all the way to the cross. He protected protected and cared for the women who were mourning. Jesus entrusted him with his mother. John cared for Mary from that point forward even though she had other sons and daughters.

After Jesus rose, John ran ahead of Peter to the get to the tomb first get to the tomb. He was the first to believe. He was also one of the first to recognize Jesus back at the lake after a night of fishing with the boys.

After Christ’s ascension Peter and John guided the first church. In Acts, Peter and John are the first to return to the Temple to preach, where they heal a man lame from birth. He and Peter are reprimanded and  flogged. Together and they visit the new converts in Samaria.

John probably stayed in Jerusalem for a dozen years – until Herod Agrippa killed his older brother (Acts 12:2). John goes into Asia Minor and sets up shop in Ephesus, taking Mary, Jesus’ mother, with him.

Can you imagine those conversations?

John returns with the other disciples to Jerusalem for the Jerusalem Council around 51 A.D. John returned to Ephesus a few years later.

Justin Martyr refers to “John, one of the Apostles of Christ” who lived “with us” in Ephesus. Irenæus says John wrote his gospel in Ephesus and lived there until the reign of Trajan. According to Eusebius, during the reign of Domitian John is exiled to Patmos, an island south of Ephesus. Tertullian wrote John was thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil near the Latin Gate in Rome and survived without injury. After Domitian’s death John returned to Ephesus and died around 100 A.D. of old age. Tradition says John refused to stay under the same roof with a guy named Cerithus. Wonder what that was about. He also was worried about a youth who had become a robber. He mentored Polycarp, who was a second generation martyr.

In his declining years he was said to repeat, “Little children, love one another!”

Tr8: Love one another.