Exodus 34:29-35

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on February 7, 2016.

Jean-Leon Gerome
Jean-Leon Gerome

When my father got excited, he would rub his hands together. If our favorite football team scored, he would rub his hands together. If he got good news in his business, he would rub his hands together.  Guess what? When I get really excited, I rub my hands together. Here’s what’s funny—I never set out to learn to rub my hands together like my dad. I never looked at him and said, “That’s cool. I really want to rub my hands together like my dad does.” Without thinking about it, I just started rubbing my hands together like he did. Because I hung around my father so much, I ended up picking up a lot of his habits. I did things the way I saw him do things.

In the day of Jesus, a disciple would choose a rabbi to follow and literally move in with the teacher while studying with him. Not only would the student learn Scriptures and theology, how to pray, and how to live faithfully, the student would learn everything from the rabbi. The student would literally take on the characteristics and mannerisms of the rabbi.

For three years, Jesus and His disciples walked the roads and trails between Capernaum and Jerusalem, between Bethany and Galilee, and they talked and they walked. We have a very small sample of their conversations. What we do have is the transformation of fishermen, tax collectors, and other rogues into the most effective evangelists the world has ever seen.

How did that happen? They hung around Jesus, and the power of His glory rubbed off on them.

The picture of Moses coming down the mountain is one of the first and most vivid pictures we have of a transformed life. Moses literally glowed from the presence of God. While we have several descriptions of their conversations, we don’t have much. Moses spent weeks on the mountain and talked with God for days on end. Moses grew so close to God that when he died, Deuteronomy eulogized Moses as a prophet who knew no equal. He was the one man God spoke to as a friend speaks to a friend.

Sadly, discipleship in too many churches has become a process of acquiring more and more information about Jesus. These days, successful discipleship is determined by which person can answer the most trivia questions about Jesus. The true test for a disciple, however, isn’t how much the student knows about the teacher but how much the disciple becomes like the teacher.

Discipleship has become mechanized in the modern and postmodern church. A Christ follower is given a process, which usually means the student is given a list of books to read and a choice of classes to attend. What the young disciple is never encouraged to learn is the practice of the presence of Christ. The radical teaching of Christianity is not only did our Teacher live in Galilee in the first century, He lives now. The same defining moments of being a disciple that were available to Peter, James, and John are available to us. Now, before you say we could never experience what Moses and Peter experienced, remember these men spent days and days in prayer. Days! Most modern disciples never spend that kind of time in prayer. The lack of any transformative impact on our lives reveals the shallowness of our discipleship.

Much has been lost in our digitalized, event-driven world. Disciplines such as silence and meditating on the words of Scripture have been pushed to the side because we’re afraid we’ll miss something if we aren’t constantly plugged into our phones and tablets.

We do miss a lot, but what we miss is one of Christ’s greatest promises to us—His abiding presence. The result is a shallow, information-based relationship with Jesus that doesn’t transform the person more deeply into the likeness of Christ. We know a lot about Him. We just don’t know Him. And there’s a difference.

I think one of the reasons we’re so hesitant to totally surrender our lives to the brooding creative presence of Christ’s Spirit is our concern with what other people will think. When one person gets serious about their walk with Christ, it puts pressure on everyone around them to get more serious with their walk. The residual of Christ’s presence leaves a glowing essence in the believer’s life. That scares a lot of people and they try to bring you back into the normalcy of the collective. You see this a lot in the lives of addicts who get well. Their healing puts a lot of pressure on the family system to find healing as well. This is hard and frightening work and many would rather not do it. To the former addict’s surprise, they find their own families sometimes sabotaging their sobriety. In the same way, most of us find it easier to sabotage the growth of the eager disciple than get more serious about our own walk with Jesus.

The glowing face of Moses scared his friends. As we get closer to Christ and desire more of Him and less of the world around us, a lot of our friends and family won’t understand. We shouldn’t be surprised. Jesus warned us it would be this way.

But in the end, what is it that we really want? Do we want to keep God at a distance while we “study” about Him? Or do we really want to know Christ, in all of his fullness and glory, so, as Paul tells us, everything else becomes garbage?

It’s not about knowing all of the answers. The disciples didn’t know the answer to every question, but they knew Jesus. Even their enemies knew that about the disciples. According to the religious leaders who challenged Peter and John, the disciples weren’t very learned men, but they had been with Jesus. I would pray the same would be said of us.


Mike-GlennDr. Mike Glenn
Senior Pastor
Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood, TN


Tags: habits, discipleship, moses, transformation, characteristics, development

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