How Discipleship Teaches Us That Jesus is the Christ
The best way for us to come to know Jesus as the Christ is through discipleship. We say discipleship is “the best way” because it’s the way that Jesus modeled for his disciples. The disciples didn’t just start confessing Jesus as the Christ; it took some time! What brought Jesus’ disciples to the point of confessing him to be the Christ from the heart? Simply stated, it was discipleship. At its core, discipleship is being with Jesus—as we spend time with him, our knowledge about him becomes our experience of him.
Let me (Ben) tell you a story of how one young lady named Amy learned that Jesus is the Christ through discipleship. She visited our church, and since she was a reporter for the local newspaper at the time, when she asked to talk to me after the service, I assumed she was writing a story. Within five minutes of our conversation, though, it was apparent to me that Amy wasn’t asking questions for a story; she wanted to know more about Jesus just for herself. She asked great questions, as good reporters do, but about fifteen minutes into our conversation, I asked her a question: “Amy, who do you think Jesus is?” She got quiet and answered, “I’m not sure.”
This is an excerpt from The Discipleship Gospel (available in eBook and paperback). Get a discount by using code ‘TBP’ at checkout when you order here.
As we began talking about who Jesus was and is, I shared with Amy the helpful grid that C.S. Lewis used in his brilliant book Mere Christianity to answer this question. Lewis showed that Jesus unequivocally claimed to be the Christ, God’s one and only son, and that there are only three logical conclusions to the question. Either Jesus was a liar, lunatic, or the Lord. Amy didn’t have a Bible, so I gave her one and encouraged her to read all the way through one of the Gospels. I told her that as she read it, she should ask herself whether she thought Jesus was a liar, lunatic, or the Lord. Amy left grateful and interested.
I got an email from Amy just a few days later. She was out of town on assignment, but wanted me to know that she had read all the way through Matthew’s Gospel. She had several more good questions via email, once again, as all good reporters do. Then, she wrote a simple, short statement like this: “After reading Matthew’s Gospel, I don’t think Jesus was a liar or a lunatic.” I kept reading to see if she expressed faith in Jesus as Lord, but when I got to the end of the email, it wasn’t there.
I began seeing Amy at our Sunday service regularly, and she interacted with my wife and me more and more. After several months, we saw Amy, and she said with a big smile: “I don’t think Jesus was a liar or a lunatic. I believe that he is the Lord, and I’d like to get baptized.” Just like with Jesus’ disciples, Amy came to believe that Jesus was and is the Christ through intentional discipleship over a period of time. Looking back over the story—as my wife, Joni, and I journeyed with Amy over a number of months through conversations, emails, answering questions, worshipping together, and increasingly sharing life with one another—Amy went from knowing that Jesus is the Christ to experiencing him in her life as the Christ. She went from knowing the right answer to believing in Jesus with all her heart, willing to surrender her life to him. Being in an intentional, discipling relationship is the best way to come to know and truly believe that Jesus is the Christ.