In the gospel of John, the Lord Jesus identifies five distinguishing characteristics of being His disciple. We’ll look at the first two today.
A Disciple Abides In The Word
Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word, you really are my disciples. (John 8:31, CSB)
According to Jesus, you are truly a disciple if you “continue in His word.” To “continue” in His Word, is to abide and remain in it. As Robby says, “You get into the word until the word gets into you!”
Paul shares this some idea in Colossians:
Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:16, CSB)
The word “richly” literally means in full measure. Let the word burst out and overflow into every area of your life! How do you do that? You do it individually by:
- Hearing it taught or preached
- Reading it
- Studying it
- Memorizing it
- Meditating on it
You do it collectively through:
- Teaching – Teaching here refers to doctrine. Pastor teachers are to equip the saints for the work of ministry and the building up of the body of Christ.
- Singing – Even when we sing we ought to proclaim the gospel! The words we sing should be scripturally based and doctrinally sound!
The first characteristic of a disciple of Christ is a disciple abides in the Word.
A Disciple Surrenders To Christ
Jesus replied to them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces much fruit. The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me. Where I am, there my servant also will be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. “Now my soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” (John 12:23-28, CSB)
Two observations are important as you examine the context of this passage:
First, notice that this passage is bookended by the Glory of God (vs. 23, 28). Jesus will glorify the Father in His person and in His work.
Second, it is important to see how Jesus responds to the Greeks (God fearers) who are seeking an interview with Him. Based upon what Jesus said, I believe He met with them.
Jesus spoke about “a grain of wheat.” These Greeks would be familiar with this illustration because it was used in Greek mythology to refer to “new life.”
It is in this context that Jesus refers to His resurrection and shares a timeless principle that is found throughout the pages of Scripture. You must first die in order to really live.
Like a seed, we must be planted and die, so that the life of Christ might spring forth in and through our lives.
John the Baptist said it well in John 3: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30, CSB)
Paul also said it well in Galatians:
I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, CSB)
A disciple is one who says “not I but Christ.” That involves surrender, suffering, and self-denial.
In a couple of weeks, we’ll look at the remainder of this passage to see how a disciple loves as Jesus loved, abides in Christ, and bears fruit through Christ.