Art Not Thou Also One of His Disciples? Part Five
In John 19:38 we read that Joseph of Arimathea was "a disciple of Jesus, but secretly." Interestingly enough, this is the only time in the New Testament where the word disciple is mentioned without calling it His disciple or My disciple. Every other time you find the word disciple, it is "His disciple" or Jesus says, "My disciple." Only once does it say, "A disciple." In other words, he was a coward. Joseph fits the words of John 12:42-43, "Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Such disciples are not happy ones.”
I wonder if some of you work in surroundings where you do not let the boss know you are a believer. "Oh," you say, "but he is a member of the Knights of Columbus-a faithful knight-and if I let him know that I was a strong Protestant I might lose my job." So what? Do you think God is not able to keep you in employment for Himself? He calls you to witness for Him. You don't have to flaunt it. You don't have to come in and call him names, but you can point out the fact that you're a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you believe in Him.
In John 6:66 it says, "Many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." That's one of the saddest verses in the Scripture. "Many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him."
All the joyful times were passed. Why? Simply because He taught them some new doctrines and they were afraid. Things weren't done exactly the way they were accustomed to have them. I wonder sometimes that these people would destroy fellowship.
I once published in a magazine an article entitled, "I Have Read the RSV." Because I pointed out that there were people who were ignorant, who were damning the Revised Standard Version without having read it, and therefore, didn't know how good a tool it could be, we had three people write in and cancel their subscriptions. "Oh no, if you don't cross the T’s the way we cross them, we will no longer fellowship with you!" (Fortunately, we had, from several parts of the country, people who sent in ten dollars and said, "Here are three subscriptions for the three that were cancelled." So we came out better in the end, perhaps, than we were before.)
I thought of the timidity of people who won't talk with anybody that doesn't walk exactly the way they walk; that do not understand the love of a disciple; that perhaps do not understand how people can be very good Christians, and not belong to what they belong to. They may not believe in the second coming of Christ as you believe it. They may not believe in baptism as you believe it or in church policy as you believe it. So what?
As long as we believe that Jesus Christ is God and that salvation is by the blood, we can be Presbyterians when we come to 18th and Spruce in Philadelphia, but when we go outside we can be Christians-disciples. Everywhere we go, let men and women understand that we are continuing in His Word; that we would be His disciples indeed; that we will be marked by our love for one another; and marked by the fact that we bear much fruit. These are the phrases that Jesus Himself has added to the word disciple. "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed." `By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." "If ye abide in me ... that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples."
May God search our hearts that we may walk very close to Him.
- How can we be more open with our faith?
- Has there been a time when you found something in scripture you didn’t like? How did you deal with that issue?
- How can we be more faithful to Christ as disciples today?
- Pray that God would give you boldness to talk about your faith with family, friends and co-workers.
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