“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”
– Jesus of Nazareth
With these words Jesus highlights the ultimate goal he has for his disciples: He wants us to become like him. [tweet this] These words also reveal that becoming like our teacher is a process, one that involves training. To be fully trained is to become like our teacher. To be fully trained is to be mature in Christ.
In fewer than 20 words Jesus gives his disciples their ultimate goal and their starting point. The starting point is to begin patterning our lives after his, imitating him. Our imitation of Jesus is the process of our training as his disciples. [tweet this] As we give ourselves to this life of imitation, we move towards becoming fully trained. We become more and more like Jesus.
But what did Jesus give himself to? I propose that there were four major endeavors Jesus gave himself to as he moved through life:
- Seeking the Father
- Scattering the Seed
- Shepherding the Sheep
- Training a Few
Seeking the Father. Jesus made it a practice to stay in close contact with the Father. “Jesus would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” (Luke 5.16). He knew the Father was aware of what was going on in his daily life and that he had a purpose and plan for Jesus to follow. To this purpose and plan Jesus was continually submitting himself. “I can do nothing on my own initiative. I speak these things as the Father taught Me.” (John 5.19; 8.28). To the very end, Jesus sought and submitted himself to the Father: “Not my will but yours be done, Father.” (Luke 22.42).
If we are to become like Jesus we must recognize that our lives are not random. The Father has a plan and purpose for us. Like Jesus, we must seek the Father daily, learning his plan and purpose and renewing our submission to it.
Scattering the Seed. One story Jesus told especially explained how he saw himself and his work. This is the Parable of the Sower. It is about a man who goes around scattering seed. The man is Jesus and the seed he is scattering is the Good News of God’s Kingdom. Jesus was a messenger, and he saw himself as one who had been sent to broadcast a message.
If we are to become like Jesus we must learn his message, the Good News, and faithfully broadcast it to those around us. Like Jesus, we are sent as messengers.
Shepherding the Sheep. A shepherd gathers, guards and guides the sheep. As we observe Jesus in Scripture, we see him patiently gathering lost sheep into his flock, guarding them from danger and guiding them in God’s paths and toward his purposes. Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
If we are to become like Jesus we must learn how to gather, guard and guide others in the paths and purposes of God. The Christian faith is a communal one. We are called to move as a flock, following the Good Shepherd together.
Training a Few. Jesus’ days on earth were numbered. It was always part of the plan that the work of Jesus on earth would continue long after Jesus himself returned to heaven. [tweet this] To this end he concentrated on a few, training them to continue his work even after he was no longer physically with them.
If we are to become like Jesus we must learn how to concentrate on a few and ensure that their work in “the family business” is not ultimately dependent on our being physically present with them.