On-the-way-discipleship: Deuteronomy 6

Yesterday’s blog entry– about doing discipleship in the course of daily life rather than as a set-aside meeting– made me think of Deuteronomy 6:6-9.

 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (New Living Translation)

That’s the way parents are to disciple their children: in the course of conversation, in the context of daily life, on the way to school, as real life situations arise. When a problem comes up between a child and their friend, a parent can ask, “How can you treat your friend like you would want to be treated if your places were reversed?” (Matthew 7:12). That’s following the principle of Deuteronomy 6: on-the-way-discipleship.

That’s the way Jesus taught his disciples as well. They lived life together– work, travel, meals… all of these things were done together. While Jesus sometimes taught the crowds using a lecture format, when he taught his disciples the lessons more often than not sprang directly from life experiences.

Here are a few examples (a small sampling taken just from Matthew 13-19) of the disciples observing Jesus and then asking him questions about what they saw him doing, leading Jesus into a teaching situation.

  • His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?” Matt 13:10
  • Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” Matt 15:12
  • Then his disciples asked him, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?” Matt 17:10
  • Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” Matt 17:19
  • The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. Matt 19:25

Like parents teach their children, Jesus taught his disciples on the way. The experiences that come out of everyday life provided plenty of teaching opportunities. Discipling as a way of life creates more opportunities than we realize.