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Disciples and Scripture


Scripture; what does this word bring to mind? Do you perhaps relate it to God’s Word or Bible study? Or perhaps you associate it with a time when you were eager to learn as much as you could about Jesus or perhaps upon your conversion the experience of reading the Bible for the first time. Or it could be a sense of not spending enough time reading Scripture or not deriving joy in doing so.

Nonetheless, Scripture is God’s Word that is a continually accessible spiritual resource and Divine Record that remains the primary means of learning about and experiencing God.

Dan Solis, author of this quarter’s Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide clarifies that “discipleship is incomplete until it incorporates a passionate desire to follow Jesus and, as a supernatural result, a passionate desire to lead others to Christ, as well.” (p. 3) In its simplest definition the word discipleship does describe the relationship between Master and follower, and also depicts what a relationship with Jesus looks like lived in the ordinary everyday life yet with extraordinary consequence.

Notice from Scripture, one of the first invitations extended to two of John the Baptist’s disciples by Jesus.  John the apostle, describes this encounter and its first impressions with the following,

 “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’ when the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked ‘What do you want?’ They said, ‘Rabbi’ (which means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ ‘Come,’ he replied, ‘and you will see.’ So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him….’”(John 1:35-39 NIV)

These first would-be disciples as seekers were invited by Jesus to ‘come and see’ in response to their question.  Consequently, before speaking the words ‘follow me,’ Jesus allowed John’s disciples to spend the day with him, this allowed an opportunity for them to observe Him, verify his identity, and also allowed them time to make first impressions that might open the door towards building a relationship with them.

Please note the two ingredients in this first encounter between would-be followers and Jesus: ‘time’ and the invitation to just ‘observe’ and ‘see.’ Jesus modeled that prerequisite to following him in the process of making disciples he first allowed for proximity to himself, personal attention and sharing of his own time.

Reflecting on a time in your childhood or youth, who was your favorite and most admired person? Do you remember the way that they made you feel? Did they ever invite you to go on a special outing with them or perhaps a vacation, or to share a meal?

The experience of being invited to spend time with someone special is probably a highlight that we do not easily forget. We may not remember the event, however, we will not forget the personal interchange, the moments shared in relationship and the learning insights that we might have obtained and exchanged.

How can we as disciples/followers of Jesus read Scripture in such a manner that we also feel as if Jesus has invited us to ‘come and see,’ allowing us to just observe him and spend time with him? Perhaps the first place to start is to improve our study skills.

A close look at our current cultural context reveals that our present-day technological social environment, practices and attitudes have influenced our approach to reading, learning and how we process newly discovered information.

For example, notice how you go about obtaining information on any given topic: Google, scan, click, determine which or how much of an article you can quickly read through while at the same time judging which are the important parts to give your attention to.

This cultural way of reading has also influenced the way that many people read Scripture. So you want information on a verse or topic, you scan the index and scan the verses, or in your reading of the Bible you keep going back to the same verses that you understand or give you comfort, leaving the rest unread.

How then do we study Scripture in a manner that will enable us to respond to the invitation to ‘observe’ Jesus?

Advantageously, the current cultural way of reading Scripture can be corrected by utilizing the simple, practical and effective step-by-step method of Inductive Bible Study that incorporates a systematic method of study, supplying study skills that facilitate learning and reading Scripture in a manner that cultivates the posture of observing, reflection and response to God’s Word. Inductive Bible study also creates an ideal greenhouse environment to take the ‘time’ to ‘see’ in a manner that will create the opportunity for followers of Jesus to observe, fall in love and build a rapport with Jesus that results in a committed, devoted relationship. After all isn’t that what discipleship is all about?

Serving as an associate pastor for discipleship at the Vienna, VA Seventh-day Adventist church last year, I taught the inductive Bible study method to a group of church members. Note one student’s email comments:

“There was homework…there was hours of reading and praying and thinking about what we read and just constantly living and breathing the words of God that we read that day…You can’t help but fall in love with Jesus when you spend time with Him and want to give your life to Him and be His disciple! You just can’t help it! I am thankful for pastor Maria showing us Jesus and for keeping our eyes on our God, she walked us through the journey of meeting Christ all over again!”  Mira Lam, is a Muslim convert.

In view of this week’s topic, “Disciples and Scripture,” I have designed an inductive Bible study for you, taken from a primary text from this lesson. For further study, I recommend the Inductive Bible Study resource, The New Joy of Discovery of Bible Study, by Oletta Wald.

The Road to Emmaus: Luke 24: 13-35

It is in the Gospel of Luke that we find the story that has been descriptively called, “The Road to Emmaus.” Luke tells this story with a vivid description that portrays the grief, sadness and disappointment of two disciples that have witnessed the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Leaving Jerusalem they are walking together toward Emmaus, a 7-mile walk as the day is ending, hoping to arrive home by sunset.

STEP 1 – Observation Observe the facts of the Biblical text and answer the question, What does it say?

1.     Read Luke 24:13-35

2.      “Look” for the following facts, write out your responses:

·      How did Jesus approach the two disciples?

·      What is troubling the two disciples?

·      How did Jesus bring hope to the discouraged disciples?

·      What word is used to strongly express the emotional response of the disciples?

·      What action did the disciples take once they reached their village?

·      How did the disciples react once their eyes were ‘opened’?

STEP 2 – Interpretation Interpret the meaning of the text. It answers the question, What does it mean?

1.     Reflect on the following questions for understanding and write out your responses:

·      What is the significance of Jesus coming alongside the two disciples as they journeyed to Jerusalem?

·      What might have been obstacles or reasons that kept the disciples from recognizing Jesus?

·      What is the implication that Jesus used the Scriptures to explain and interpret “things” about Himself?

·      The dictionary (American Heritage, 4th Edition:250) states that, the word ‘burning’ may mean, “Marked by flames or intense heat.” However, the second meaning is “Characterized by intense emotion; passionate.”

·      With this added meaning, paraphrase in your own words, verse 32- They said to each other, “were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”

STEP 3 – Personalization Personalize the Bible teachings and answer the question, What does it mean to me?

This passage depicts the progression of the disciples as they experienced comprehension and understanding of the prophecies concerning Jesus. It also indicates the centrality of Scripture in Jesus’ teaching style. We will now proceed to think deeply about what this might imply for us.

1.     Write out your answers to the following questions:

·      Identify with the two disciples in this story, where might you need understanding and clarity in your life today?

·      Noting how Jesus used Scripture to teach the disciples, what might this imply for my life?

·      What might be obstacles that are keeping me from “seeing” that Jesus is walking alongside of me?

STEP 4 – Application This step challenges our thinking answering the question, What shall I do?

Write out your responses to the following question:

1.     What can I do this week to help me grow as a disciple and learn more about Jesus in the Bible?

Be specific in your answer.

2.     Take a moment to pray that in the coming week as a disciple you might learn and experience more about Jesus in Scripture.

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