S45P7 – Notes on discipleship: recognizing the true master

John 8:31-32

So Jesus was saying to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word you are truly My disciples.  And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

When he studied the collection of paintings, he was mesmerized. He had never seen such a crisp and clear technique, and he thought that he must learn to paint just like this.  It took some time and a lot of legwork and schmoozing, but he eventually secured an apprenticeship with the artist.  It was a glorious year indeed. He was ready to soak up all of the knowledge that was available to him.  He truly viewed his teacher as the master. One day, while he was heaping praise on his teacher for being such a skilled painter, the teacher became humbled.  He said, “you think that I am a master because of what I can do and what I have taught you, but I am only a student as well who learned this from one who is greater than I.” You see, the teacher had not invented this technique but learned it from the real master.

When we enter into a discipleship relationship, we must understand who we are trying to emulate.  We are not training up others to be like us; we are training up others to be like Jesus and to be his disciples. Hopefully, our discipleship in Christ serves as an example for others to follow. However, we are not trying to make small versions of ourselves. It is never our goal to be like any person; it is our goal to be like Jesus. There is a fine line that sometimes is crossed when a student begins to worship the teacher as the master.  We must confess and accept that we are not the masters.  We are only messengers passing down the knowledge and wisdom we received from the real master, who is Jesus Christ. We know nothing within ourselves but only that which He has imparted to us.

When God came to Earth to walk among us as a man, he gave us the perfect example of right living.  Although we may see others who encourage us through their faithfulness and obedience, discipleship is about making people not like other people but like Jesus.  The only way that our training is going to be effective and fruitful is if we are trained to be like our master. What we teach are not our commandments and statutes but his. What we admire and appreciate are not our sacrifices but his. What we rely on is not our power but his. Father, keep us focused on Jesus as we train up our brothers and sisters, remembering that we are all disciples of your Son.