A Practical Question!
George Everard, 1885
"Are not you also one of His disciples?" John 18:25
The rash zeal of Peter in cutting off the ear of Malchus was one cause of his terrible fall. Had he been distrustful of himself and watchful over his own spirit, he would have been more likely to keep out of danger. But his hasty action in the garden and his eagerness to show that his promise to Christ was not a mere empty boast, brought him into prominence, and so no doubt there came question upon question which only opened the way for his threefold denial.
"Are not you also one of His disciples? He denied it, and said: I am not."
Ah, Peter, how soon you have broken your plighted word, and denied your Lord, who yet loved you through it all. How shamefully have you dishonored Him who at that very hour was preparing to yield up His life for your salvation! But your faithful Shepherd would not cast you off. And in later days at least the old promise was better kept. You did then prove your fidelity even unto death. Restored by His grace, forgiven through His free mercy, strengthened by His Spirit, you did fight the good fight and win a crown bright with many a gem.
"Are not you also one of His disciples?" It is a home-thrust — a cutting inquiry for every lad who reads these pages. Are you a learner at His feet? Have you come and enrolled yourself among such as follow Him? Is it your full purpose to follow Him "wherever He goes?"
It was reckoned in olden time an honor to be a disciple of one of the wise men of Greece, but they passed away, and for the most part their doctrine and teaching with them. But to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus, is to accept the word of One whose doctrine shall yet fill the world, and shall decide the eternal destiny of all mankind.
I trust you are one of His disciples. It may be only a beginner. It may be a very weak disciple — but still you own Christ as your Master, and you wish to be whole-hearted in His service. Then let me put before you what your position implies. Let me remind you of those points on which you should be watchful.
"Are not you also one of His disciples?" Then you must be prepared to walk in the footsteps of your Master. "The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord" (Matthew 10:24, 25).
You must be content to tread a humble path through life, if it be God's will. It was the path Christ chose. He was willingly subject to Joseph and Mary at Nazareth for many a long year. During most of His life He worked as a carpenter, and was utterly unknown to the great world outside the village where He dwelt.
Be willing also, if the path of duty lies there, to tread the valley rather than the mountain-top. Be willing to leave to others eagerly to seek the heights of man's praise and this world's distinction. Do your duty manfully, fill your niche well — and then God will send you that which is the very best. If He should send honor and high position and increasing prosperity — then never forget that it is His gift and use it to do His work the better. If He should appoint otherwise — then be well content to have it so. The humblest lot in fellowship with Christ, is far happier than the highest if you are a stranger to Him.
"Are not you also one of His disciples?" Then you must bear your cross cheerfully and bravely for His sake. Do not make a cross for yourself by your self-will or lack of judgment, or lack of integrity or consistency. But whatever cross He lays upon you, bear it after Him.
It may come in the shape of hard words and misrepresentation.
It may come in days of suffering or sorrow.
It may come through failure to achieve what you have toiled to obtain.
It may come in separation from those you love.
But, whatever it is, let your eye be upon Him, and patiently endure it because it is His will, and the discipline He has appointed particularly for you. "Then Jesus said to His disciples: If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me!" Matthew 16:24
"Are not you also one of His disciples?" Then you must copy His holy and sinless life. Every member of Christ suffered in His bitter agonies. So by His grace you must crucify the sins that pertain to each member.
Was He scourged with cruel stripes?
Then flee from softness and self-indulgence to the flesh.
Was His brow pierced with thorns?
Then flee from all pride of intellect, and from all vanity of good looks.
Was His tongue parched with thirst?
Then beware lest your tongue utter words of folly and sin, or anything which He would disapprove.
Were His hands nailed to the cross?
Then keep your hands from writing or doing anything amiss.
And let every member be employed in His service and for His glory.
"Are not you also one of His disciples?" Then you must cultivate unity of spirit with all who belong to Him. There ought to be no jealousy or envy, no coldness or distance, no ill judgings and unkind suspicions among His disciples. He would have them all one in heart and mind. He would have them forbearing and forgiving toward each other. He would have them bound together firmly with the cord of holy charity, and ready to help each to the utmost of their power.
"Are not you also one of His disciples?" Then you shall share His glory and His kingdom. Nothing shall be too great or too good for one who has been thoroughly loyal to His cause.
Earthly monarchs and generals love to display their generous appreciation of deeds of distinguished valor, especially when performed in the presence of rebels or half-hearted adherents. But in this none shall equal our great Captain. Beyond all our hopes, beyond all that it is possible for us now to conceive, will be the bright reward of those who have truly served Him.
"No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever!" Revelation 22:3-5