Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Discipleship in a nutshell

A FEW YEARS back, Stan Guthrie wrote a book called God’s Story in 66 Verses: Understand the Entire Bible by Focusing on Just One Verse in Each Book. A pretty impressive achievement, boiling 23,145 verses down to that few.

However, I have managed to go 65 better. I have reduced the whole of the Bible’s teaching on discipleship—and the countless books that have been written on the subject—to a single verse.

It’s found in the story of the transfiguration, that strange episode when Jesus takes three of His closest friends up a mountain. He goes all glowy on them, as though He has somehow turned the “mute” button on His glory off. For just for a moment, they see Him in all His awesome radiance, chatting with Elijah and Moses.

Then a voice comes from heaven, with the bottom line on what it means to be a follower of Jesus: “Behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him’” (Matthew 17:5).

There are a couple interesting echoes here. The first is of Jesus’s baptism, recorded in Matthew 5, when a voice also came from heaven, declaring,  “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

The second underscores the centrality of the transfiguration directive. Before Jesus’s heavenly Father instructed His followers to heed what He said, His earthly mother did the same thing.

Remember back when Jesus had first gathered His disciples, and they joined him at a wedding celebration in Cana? She alerted Him to the fact that the party had run out of wine. Although He didn’t seem to want to get involved at first, He relented and Mary told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).

Back to the transfiguration, and two measures of our faith. First, is Jesus our beloved or is He our belief? There’s a world of difference. Second, are we listening? Not just in the sense of can we repeat what’s been said, but are we actually living it?

Photo: Hand photo created by wayhomestudio – www.freepik.com

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