Ready for Discipleship
Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are descendants of Abraham, yet you look for an opportunity to kill me because there is no place in you for my word. I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.” Jesus and Abraham They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, you would do what Abraham did, but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are indeed doing what your father does.” They said to him, “We are not illegitimate children; we have one Father, God himself.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God, and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me.
We may never be able to fully account for all that was taking place within and around this moment where Jesus was speaking to the Jews that had gathered around him. In my mind’s eye, I am reasonably able to conclude that there must have been some questioning, some doubting, as well as some uneasiness with what the future would hold for disciples of Jesus Christ.
These followers, who were present in that day, may have been filled with the same questions that are often confronting and filling many who claim to believe in Jesus today. What does the future hold for me as a disciple of Jesus Christ? Are there any guarantees that will make the journey and decision making simpler? The list could go on and on. Jesus told them, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples”. Being a disciple is not about religious regularity, family history, ecclesiastical or biblical eruditeness, or positional prominence.
Being a true disciple calls every believer to continue in Jesus’ words and teachings. There is a great distance between making the claim that I believe and practicing what we believe. So much takes place in that space that challenges our beliefs that prevents us from moving forward, maturing and experiencing the good success and freedom that is available through our faith in Jesus Christ. The words of Jesus that led to a lesson about sin and servitude, freedom and discipleship begin with one small little word that identifies a great challenging space. It is a small word but can give us the greatest challenge to experiencing divine freedom. It is the word first heard in the reading, “IF”. Roald Dahl in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator put it this way, “You’ll never get anywhere if you go about what-iffing like that.”
Almighty God our Heavenly Father, renew in us the gifts of your mercy; increase our faith, strengthen our hope, enlighten our understanding, widen our charity, and make us ready to serve you, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever, Amen.