Christianity has come a long way since the time of Jesus Christ. The change has been significant over these past 2,000 years, and what we see in New Testament Scripture is no longer recognizable in some areas of the Church today. As an example, the Church treats its members and visitors with extreme gentleness, going out of its way not to offend people lest they leave the church or not come back again. This we certainly understand. Let us contrast this with how Jesus taught his disciples in the gospels. Let’s examine three different occasions.
Jesus harshly rebukes his disciples for failing to heal a boy
When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” (Matthew 17:14-19)
Observe what Jesus said to the disciples after he heard that they had failed to perform the miracle of casting the demon out of the boy. He rebuked them very harshly, calling them “unbelieving and perverse.” He was obviously exasperated with them. In the Church today, such words by a pastor or leader to a church member would be considered utterly outrageous, especially if the shortcoming was simply failure to perform a miracle in Jesus’ name. But obviously Jesus expected them to heal the boy. In stark contrast, the Church today does not expect believers to perform such miracles. Rather we teach that only God Himself can perform miracles.
Jesus rebukes Peter for failing to walk on water successfully
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:28-31)
Jesus was disappointed with Peter when he failed to walk on water as commanded. The Lord rebuked him for having little faith and for doubting that he could in fact walk on water as Jesus had commanded him. Again, Peter was rebuked for failing to perform a miracle.
Jesus rebukes the disciples for failing to calm the wind & waves
A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:37-41)
In exact line with the first two incidents where Jesus rebukes the disciples for failing to perform the miracles, Jesus is displeased with the disciples for failing to exercise authority over the wind and the waves. He expected them to calm the wind and the waves.
We can reasonably conclude that on occasions Jesus taught his disciples very differently from how the Church teaches disciples today. Today we do not teach and expect disciples to perform miracles as Jesus did. When they fail to do so, we certainly do not show disappointment or disapproval as Jesus did. After all, our theology holds that only God Himself has the authority to perform miracles. By comparison with Jesus, we coddle disciples today.
Toward outsiders, however, Jesus was different. He healed those who came to him with faith for their healing and was known to commend them for their faith (Mark 5:34). But toward his disciples Jesus could be very strict. What was the reason for this difference? He was equipping his disciples to undertake the great responsibility of fulfilling the Great Commission after he left. Failure would not be an option for them.
Jesus Christ, Chief Drill Instructor
The Jesus we hear about in church on Sunday mornings is usually Jesus the Good Shepherd who died for our sins. He is patient, kind, meek, and understanding toward us and our weaknesses. But the One we see in this study is Jesus Christ Commander-in-Chief. He is our Chief Drill Instructor “who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle” (Psalm 144:1).
All believers of course should know Jesus Christ as their Savior and Good Shepherd. Should not all disciples also know Jesus Christ as Lord and Commander-in-Chief as well—King of kings and Lord of lords? He is the One who trains us and sends us out to preach the gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons, and to make disciples—to fulfill the Great Commission.
In this article we introduce you to Jesus Christ, Commander-in-Chief and Drill Instructor.