Misunderstanding discipleship is not an agree to disagree type of misunderstanding. It is a base level understanding that those who call themselves Christians need to understand. Likewise, if we are going to be a church that makes disciple-making disciples, we must all be on the same page as to what we are seeking to make.
In my last post to open this series, I provided the first of three characteristics of a disciple. Today we explore characteristic number two.
What is a disciple?
(2) A disciple is someone who submits to Jesus’ authority
Looking at Matthew 11:29 Jesus calls us to:
“Take [his] yoke upon [us], and learn from” him.(Mt 11:29a)
A yoke is a piece of farm equipment that is attached to an animal such as an ox that allows them to pull farm equipment. It is usually associated with hard work. Imagine being an animal on a farm whose job is to pull a plough through hard soil day in and day out. Not an easy task.
A yoke is typically associated with hard work, but notice what Jesus tells us.
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.””(Mt 11:30)
That is not typical. Work on the farm is hard. It is labor some. But not so with Jesus. Jesus is not calling us to come to Him so that He can place a heavy burden on us. Jesus tells us that His yoke is easy. His burden is light. While Jesus flips the script on what it means to take on a yoke, we are still to take His yoke and put it on.
Taking Jesus’ yoke on us signifies submission to His authority in our life.
There is this idea (see Lordship Salvation Debate) in evangelical circles that we don’t have to submit our lives to Jesus. All we need to do is believe in Him and everything will be great. But Jesus is not calling us to mental assent. Instead, He is calling us to submit our entire lives to Him.
I know some want to argue otherwise, but if we think about salvation for a minute and why we need it. We need to be saved from the wrath of God because we rebelled against God. We thought we knew what was right and wrong. We followed our own will. As you look at the span of biblical history, it is clear that following our own will does not workout well for us.
If you just take the book of Genesis for instance, you see that man is good at rejecting God’s will. God offers blessing and life to the main characters in the book of Genesis and their default reaction is failure. God starts with Adam, who fails in a big way. Though God has given him dominion over the entire garden and earth, he rejects God’s way of doing things for his own. His failure plunges the human race into sin.
Next is Noah. God essentially restarts the world with Noah. But he can’t keep it together either. Nor can Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel. His sons, grandsons and great grandsons fail as well.
Our default reaction is a rejection of God’s will for our own. Our default action doesn’t result in blessing, instead it results in a curse. Part of the salvation process, then, is to admit our failure, our rebellion, and to turn back to God, allowing Him to have the proper place in our life, as our King.
True disciples submit to Jesus’ authority.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”(Ps 1:1–2)
If I am honest with you, when I first read those verses in my youth, I had trouble with them. I couldn’t understand why the Psalmist would delight in the Law of God. To my knowledge, at that point in my life, it was just a bunch of rules. It was a bunch of things you should and shouldn’t do. Up to that point in my life, I didn’t delight in rules. I didn’t like them. But as I matured, I eventually realized God’s Law represents His will and wisdom. It is based off His character, which is good.
When the Psalmist talks about delighting in God’s law, he is saying that he delights in all of who God is. He recognizes that God desires us to experience His goodness, which is why He provides us the Law.
True disciples recognize that as well. Instead of seeking ways to wiggle out from underneath Jesus’ authority, they submit to it, recognizing it is what is best for them.
Want to keep learning?
Watch the sermon this post is based on.