Theme: Elements of Discipleship: Submission and Commitment
This week’s lessons impress upon us the importance that one cannot be a true Christian without being a genuine disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Scripture: Luke 5:31, 32
3. Submission. In one of Jesus’s most important sayings about discipleship—which we will study more carefully next week—the Lord pictures discipleship as putting on a yoke. This suggests a number of things, but chiefly it suggests submission to Christ for work assigned. It is the picture of an animal yoked to others as well as to a farm implement for labor.
A yoke is also the connection between submission and subjection. “Submit” comes from the two Latin words sub (meaning “under”) and mitto or mittere (meaning ‘‘to put” or “to place”). So submission means putting oneself under the authority of another. “Subject” also comes from two Latin words, in this case sub (meaning “under”) and iacto or iactare (meaning “to cast” or “to throw”). It means being put under the authority of another. In other words, although the first word has an active sense (I put myself under another’s authority) and the second word has a passive sense (I am placed under that authority), the idea is nevertheless essentially the same.
Moreover, it is connected with the “yoke” in this way. In ancient times it was customary for a ruler, when he had conquered a new people or territory, to place a staff across two upright poles, perhaps four feet off the ground, and require the captive people to pass under it. By this act they were seen to be passing under his yoke of submitting to his authority. When Jesus used this image of discipleship He was really saying that to follow Him was to submit to Him. It was to receive Him as Lord of one’s life.
4. Commitment. The fourth element in following Christ is commitment, for the simple reason that it is impossible to follow Christ without being committed to Him. A lack of commitment means deviating from His path or falling away from Him. On the other hand, it is impossible to be committed to Christ without following Him, for a failure to follow really means being committed to some other thing or person.
Moreover, we must insist that regeneration precedes faith and that faith, which is the fruit of regeneration, inevitably issues in commitment to the Lord Christ. We live in an age of shallow doctrine and very shallow views of the work of God in salvation. What is regeneration? One author writes correctly, “Regeneration is the one and only avenue into a new realm of divine life, and only by virtue of this new creation life is co-operation with God possible. ‘Being born again’ (2 Peter 1:23) is something infinitely bigger than being pardoned and made happy. It is being brought to God (1 Peter 3:18). It is a call henceforth to walk with God (Revelation 3:4). It is a transfer of heart allegiance. It necessarily involves submission to the rule of another kingdom. It is an altogether new realm of sovereignty and a change of ownership.”2 If commitment to Christ as the living Lord is denied, the one denying it is no true Christian even though there may be a verbal acknowledgment of Christ’s deity and redemptive work.
What are two other elements of discipleship that were mentioned today? How does the image of a yoke help us to understand the first one?
How is the idea of “being born again” defined?
What is the relationship between regeneration and faith?
Reflection: Is there someone you know who is struggling on their path of discipleship? What can you do or say to encourage and strengthen them in their steadfastness to Christ?
2Reginald Wallis, The New Sovereignty (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Fellowship, 1974), p. 45. The book is written to emphasize “the all important significance of the Lordship of Christ as the condition and goal of true discipleship” (p. 5).