John Chapters 13-17 Marks of a Disciple of Christ

1. Disciples are known by the world by loving each other as Jesus loved them.  (John 13:34-35)
Was this a new command?  (v34-35)  What about the command was new?
The new part of this commandment is that Jesus says we should love one another as he has loved us.  This is certainly a hard teaching.  Jesus loved us and died for us while we were sinners.  Jesus loves me and shows his love to me even though I do not deserve it.  He blesses me beyond belief daily, even though daily I fail him.  He washed the feet of Judas and loved him and served him no differently than the other disciples.  This is how Jesus calls me to love.  It is impossible to do unless I am in Him.  This is not something that can be faked.  
How did Jesus just demonstrate his love?

Jesus demonstrated this love when he washed the disciples’ feet.  It was a humiliating act.  Here was the creator looking up as His creation, serving the very beings He created.  He served impartially and without showing favor to one over the other.  Because He was so impartial, the disciples could not tell at all, who His betrayer was.
How did what Jesus did make the disciples feel?  Was it awkward?  Uncomfortable?  Why?
Yes, it was an awkward and uncomfortable situation.  Just before this account, Jesus was hailed as King in the triumphal entry.  He was worshiped and lauded.  Now, he took on the role of the most menial servant.  He willing did the job that no one else wanted to do. 
Is this how I love others?  Does the way I love others seem over the top?  Does it make others uncomfortable?  Do other people notice how different it is?
I do think I am often willing to serve others in this way, but it is a hard life style to sustain, as it is exhausting on so many levels – physically, spiritually and emotionally.  And, I do have a much harder time serving those that have hurt me in some way.  I do it, but I have to pray constantly and struggle through it.  And sadly, I often get grumpy when I am tired and then my acts of service lose their potency.  I can end up doing more harm than good.
 
2. Disciples prove they are disciples by bearing much fruit.  (John 15:8)
What is the fruit Jesus is referring to?
I believe that Jesus is saying that those who abide in Him, will make other disciples.  They will share Jesus with others and teach them to obey the things Jesus commanded.
What kind of fruit does an apple tree bear?  What kind of fruit does a grape vine bear?
Apples, of course.  Grapes of course.:-)
What kind of fruit therefore does a disciple vine bear?
Jesus call disciples to go and make other disciples(Matthew 28)
Jesus says “I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit.” (Chapt 15:16)  Does what I think the fruit is make sense in the context of this verse?  Does it reflect the purpose and focus of Jesus’ life (i.e. that this is why He chose them)?
How do I bear fruit?
I bear fruit for Jesus, by teaching others about Him and calling them to believe in Him, repent and be baptized.  Then I must continue to be involved in their lives so that they stay faithful.  We help each other to obey.
How much fruit am I supposed to bear?
Much fruit.
What does it indicate if I am not bearing fruit?
If I am not bearing fruit for Jesus, then it means that I am not abiding in Him, because He promises that those who abide in Him will bear fruit.  If I do not believe this, then I am calling God a liar.  
How fruitful am I?
This is a tougher one to answer.  I have personally studied the bible with many women.   One of the women I studied with is currently working as a women’s ministry leader alongside her husband who leads a church in Europe.  I still stay in touch with around 20 women that I studied the Bible with and we remain open with each other about our struggles and continue to encourage one another in our faith.
 
But, for several years  I did not study the bible much with anyone.   I felt then that I was in a desert, as our lives increasingly revolved around the care of our parents. I know this was a special season in my life and I am grateful that we could care for all three of our parents, but I know it hurt me spiritually to not be more involved on a regular basis with helping others to become disciples. I forgot how important it is to regularly experience the joy of witnessing changed lives. I praise God, that after many, many years of sharing my faith with my mom, studying the Bible on numerous occasions with her, she finally repented and was baptized just two weeks prior to her death.  This week is an emotional time for me as next weekend mark’s the one year anniversary of her baptism.  
 
My focus now, is on raising my daughters in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  Our two older ones were baptized a few years ago after years of studying the scriptures with us.  Now we pray for Joy and teach her daily what it means to repent and obey.  
 
I also pray and ask for your prayer for my father, because I do not believe that He is in a right relationship with the Lord.  Though he comes to church with us on occasion, he has never understood the need for repentance and he has never been immersed.  I would be so grateful if you would pray and ask the Lord to open my dad’s heart and mind to understand before it is too late.  I want so badly to see my father saved and this is probably the area I lack the greatest faith and peace.  I sometimes feel frantic about reaching him before he dies. I want to change this in me because I know it is sin.  It is simply not trusting God.  I would be grateful if you would pray for me to daily give my dad to God and trust that He knows best whatever the outcome.  
 
3, The world will know who Jesus is by the unity of the disciples.  (John 17:20-23)
How does Jesus define the level of unity that should exist between disciples?
There should not be disunity between disciples.  We should be one as Jesus and the Father are one.
What are Christians known for today?
Sadly, Christians and the church is known for extreme disunity.  All it takes is opening up a phone book to see how utterly divided we are.  
What prevents us from being unified?
1. Pride – Thinking that our way is the best or only way.  
2. Lack of holding to the Bible as our standard. Disunity comes when we create our own practices or traditions and hold them on the same level as Scripture  
What should I conclude if we are not unified but that’s what Jesus prayed for those who would believe in and follow Him?
If we are not unified and this is what Jesus wants for those who believe in him and follow him, we should conclude that we are in sin and need to repent.  We should always work towards unity.  It takes work and effort. Unity will not just happen.  It takes and openness and willingness to hear others.  It takes humility
 
How do these areas relate to the condition of “the church” today?
 
Honestly, I wonder if you all have felt the way I often do.  It is hard not to get discouraged by the condition of” the church” today.  I truly think we would probably all be shocked by what Jesus would say about how we worship him and what our fellowships look like. I saw a movie many years ago that addressed this very issue.  It was about a man who had come into our times after being catapulted forward from the far past, and he was dismayed by what he saw in “the church.”  He didn’t recognize it at all as the body of Christ. Half-hearted singing, superficial relationships, bickering and disunity, immodest dress….. etc…..It seems that in an effort to draw the crowds, “the church” has succumbed to the world.  Rather than stay true and faithful to the Word, “the church” tries all kinds of gimmicks to draw people in and sadly is not taken very seriously anymore because people don’t see much difference between it and any other club.  Quite frankly, there have been many times in my life, where I questioned going to church myself.  Not because I don’t love Jesus, but because I felt I had no place to take someone to, that adequately reflected what Jesus died for.  Jesus wants His church to be a living and breathing example of the agape love He calls His disciples to.  It is this love that will draw in the masses.  This love cannot exist without Jesus.  This love is what the world needs.  If we as His disciples show this love to one another and model it to the world around us, Jesus will give us abundant fruit.  But. we have to truly be exceedingly different from the world around us.  This can only happen if we cling to Him and His Word, rather than our feelings, emotions or traditions. We can and should love how He loves us.  This is what He commands us to do. – March 7, 2016

About andreamoormans

I was raised to be an independent, strong-willed woman. My earthly father prepared me for life by sending me to the best schools. I attended Wellesley College, the same school Hillary Clinton and a host of prominent women attended. Gloria Steinem spoke at my graduation. I was a Fulbright Scholar. I went to Harvard Graduate School. My father meant well, but his plans stemmed from worldly wisdom. "Church" was an event I put into my schedule, not the fabric of who I was. Amidst many successes that left me feeling empty, I began searching for meaning. My life was turned upside down when I realized how wrong I had been about God and the Church. I had accepted a diluted, unrecognizable version of both. Earnestly studying my Bible and realizing my need for repentance, I committed myself to a relationship with Christ, following his plan for salvation. That was the easy part. Then began the process of peeling away layer upon layer of religiosity. Now 23 years later, He is still stripping away layers of erroneous thinking and revealing to me how to bring greater glory and honor to Him through my thoughts, my actions, my speech, my life. Though I have been blessed in many ways and have a wonderful family, the desire to obey the Lord's commands has led me to a very different path in life than I would have ever imagined. Following Him has not been easy. In fact, it is harder than any of my studies at the best name schools, ever was. Jesus never promises a life of ease. In fact, He calls me to walk counter to the teachings of this society. But in trading in worldly wisdom for His, I have gained full confidence that Jesus Christ is truly the only treasure worth chasing.
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