The Lord Jesus came into the world to set up His Kingdom. At His first coming into the world, the Lord Jesus set up His spiritual kingdom in the hearts of all those who believe, receive and surrender to Him as their Lord and Saviour.
But, at His second coming into the world the Lord Jesus would set up His everlasting physical kingdom on the earth. Then, it shall be proclaimed, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15 NKJV).
At His first coming into the world the Lord Jesus chose twelve men out of the people who believed and received Him as their Lord and Saviour to be His disciples or apprentices.
These men chosen by the Lord were apparently not the cream of the society. They were largely unlearned and poor men, but were certainly humble men with large room in their hearts to learn and to receive all that the Lord had to show, teach and demonstrate to them (Mk. 3:13-19).
The Greek word “mathetes” for “disciple” in the New Testament means “a learner or a pupil.” But in Aramaic, the word “disciple” does not mean a student, but an apprentice.
An apprentice is a learner under a skilled or qualified person who is learning a trade or profession. Every believer is supposed to be Jesus’ apprentice!
Disciples of Jesus are not just His students; they are His apprentices. The idea of a student is only theoretical. But, the idea of an apprentice is something quite practical. When Jesus chose twelve ordinary people to be with Him, what He intended was not for them to be mere students but apprentices, not to be merely theoretical, but to be very practical.
Jesus chose His first twelve disciples with an intention to train and equip them not just for the purpose of preaching and teaching God’s Word, but also for the purpose of continuing His works and even doing greater works than what He did (John 14:12, Lk. 19:13).
The Scripture records: “And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons.” (Mark 3:13-15 NKJV).
This is still Jesus’ intention of calling, choosing or appointing His disciples today!
The twelve disciples were chosen as Jesus’ apprentices to be with Him and follow Him wherever He goes, so that they might know Him intimately, believe in Him wholeheartedly, and then conform wholly to His examples.
At one time after the Lord Jesus had demonstrated to them what is true humility and service by washing their feet, He turned to them, saying, “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:13-15 NKJV).
As Jesus’ apprentice you are called to voluntarily yield your neck under the yoke of the Lord Jesus, so that you may learn from Him and walk in His footsteps.
Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt. 11:29-30 NKJV).
The ultimate goal of Jesus’ apprentices is Christlikeness – to be wholly conformed to Jesus Christ in all things. The primary purpose of your apprenticeship training under Christ is to be progressively transformed into the image of Christ from glory to glory, to grow up in all things into Christ, and to attain the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13, 15, 2 Cor. 3:18).
As an apprentice the Lord is training you to see things as He sees them, to speak as He speaks, to live as He lives, to walk as He walks, and to do supernatural works as He does supernatural works.
Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” (Luke 6:40 NKJV).
How did Jesus choose to train His apprentices?
He took them into very practical situations!
This is still the way the Lord Jesus is training His apprentices today. Jesus’ training was not merely in theory but also in practice. Why?
Because Jesus was training His disciples or apprentices for His Kingdom works; not just to be speakers, preachers or teachers, but to be doers of His words and works.
The Lord Jesus was not a mere speaker, preacher or teacher; He was a demonstrator. Therefore, the Lord always ensured that His disciples were around Him while performing supernatural signs or miracles. Oftentimes, Jesus engaged or involved His apprentices in performing His miracles (John 2:7-8, 11:15, 39, 44).
As a matter of fact, there were many signs that Jesus did, not publicly but privately, not for the benefits of the multitudes but only for the learning of His disciples.
The Scripture testifies: “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book.” (John 20:30 NKJV).
As Jesus’ apprentices the early disciples were often put in practical and difficult situations deliberately by the Lord to afford Him the opportunities of revealing Himself increasingly to them, so that they might know Him deeper, and also to test and appraise them (John 6:6).
One of such situations was when Jesus asked them to provide food in the desert for about five thousand hungry men, besides women and children.
The Scripture records: “When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” (Matt. 14:15-16 NKJV).
That was indeed a difficult situation beyond the natural abilities or resources of Jesus’ apprentices. But, the Lord Jesus knew they needed such a situation to know Him deeper, so that their faith in Him may grow stronger.
Another practical situation was when the Lord Jesus constrained His disciples to enter into the boat and go before Him to the other side of the sea (Matt. 14:22-33).
The Lord Jesus certainly knew that a great distress awaits them in the middle of the sea. Yet, He put them in that dangerous or life-threatening situation. But, when they had thought that all hope of their escape from the storm was gone, Jesus showed up walking on the troubled sea that was threatening to swallow them.
The Lord Jesus was certainly demonstrating to His apprentices His infinite power over all forces of nature or life-threatening situations. The Lord wanted them to know that He has His eyes fixed upon them and their situations, and that He would never leave them nor forsake them, or allow them to be tempted beyond what they are able to bear.
Perhaps, the Lord Jesus might also want to show His apprentices how to walk on the troubled sea, and how to be a master over the worst situation in life, but only Peter caught that lesson!
Beloved, as Jesus’ apprentice, don’t regard it a strange thing when you find yourself in some difficult, dangerous or life-threatening situations. Don’t forget that the Lord Jesus is not just a mere teacher who instructs only in letters, or who focuses only on theories. The Lord Jesus is a demonstrator who wants to show you in practice how to live, walk, work, and handle life’s situations.
Just as He did to His first twelve apprentices, the Lord may sometimes constrain you into the boat and push you into a trouble sea, not to kill you but so that you also may behold and experience His presence, power, love, grace, goodness and glory in an unprecedented dimension and manner.
Regrettably, many believers today have no desire and patience to wait to see, learn and imbibe all that the Lord Jesus intended to teach, reveal or demonstrate to them while in some unpleasant or difficult situations.
All that many believers today desperately desire or want when they find themselves in any crisis or difficult situation is an instant relief, speedy supernatural intervention or solution. This is why many believers today are not growing or becoming increasingly like the Master, the Lord Jesus.
Friend, the Lord Jesus is calling you today unto apprenticeship under Him. All that the Lord requires of you is to willingly yield your neck under His yoke, look up to Him, learn from Him, receive from Him, and walk in His footsteps daily.
This is a sure path that leads to real rest in life!
The Lord Jesus is saying to you today, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:29 NKJV).