This series of blogs, Discipleship Reflections, are a part of an independent study for my Doctor of Ministry studies. Read, enjoy, comment. Thanks for reading.
In the beginning of the 6th chapter of Luke’s Gospel, at least some of the Disciples had broken Sabbath laws with Jesus by gathering grain on the wrong day, and seen Jesus heal on the Sabbath. Both events drew criticism from the Pharisees, and a strong retort from Jesus. The Disciples to this point included at least the fishermen disciples and Levi (Matthew), as they had been specifically called by Jesus in chapter 5.
In chapter 6, we read similar teaching to the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. The twelve Disciples, who had just been certified in verses 13-16, gathered with a large group of disciples of Jesus to observe Jesus’ teaching and healing ministry. The crowd that gathered probably included the twelve who would become Apostles and other followers. These Beatitudes constitute the first recorded teaching material he offered to his newly commissioned Disciples. So, the content ought to be seen as significant.
20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you[a] on account of the Son of Man. 23 Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
25 “Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
These beatitudes recapitulated the definition of God’s blessing and promises. It could be viewed as a message of divine hope for followers who would certainly face trials, temptation, and persecution during Jesus ministry and after his earthly ministry was completed.
It is also important to consider how we as disciples who also lead and teach not think too much of ourselves. After cautioning his disciples to avoid judgmental attitudes, Jesus continued with a parable:
39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
He made it plain that teaching and leading was not about judgment, but came with a responsibility to know oneself, to know our own sins and shortcomings. If we don’t know our own failings and humanness, we are likely to be the blind leading the blind. When we know ourselves we will be better able to teach and lead others. As he stated in the following verses, the quality of the teacher or tree determines the quality of the fruit that is produced.
So, again questions arise.
• How are we transferring hope to disciples?
• How are conveying a sense of blessing to the ones who will ultimately go out and make disciples?
• Are we teaching from a perspective of fellow learner or detached authority?
• Are we authentic with the disciples we are tasked with leading?