Reaching a Higher Level of Service
by Jacob Hudgins
The Bible often uses the word “indeed” to emphasize an attribute and distinguish it from something lesser.
Jesus praised Nathanael “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit”(John 1:47). It was not that other Jews were not Israelites, but that Nathanael stuck out as grasping the true nature of being an Israelite. This was more than a name or race to him—he accepted his duty to truly be a man set apart to God—an Israelite indeed.
Paul wrote to Timothy regarding the church’s obligations to widows. “Honor widows who are widows indeed; but if any widow has children or grandchildren…”(1 Tim 5:3-4, NAS). It was not that other widows were not widows—their husbands had died also. It was that these were widows in a higher sense—having no family able or willing to support them, they were truly “left alone”(v. 5). To emphasize this desperate, deeper need, Paul says they are “widows indeed”.
When Jesus and the Jews clashed over authority, He asked them whether John’s baptism was from heaven or men (v. 30). They refused to say from men because “they feared the people, for all counted John to have been a prophet indeed”(Mark 11:32). It was not that other prophets were not prophets. All spoke for God and had particular tasks and messages to present to God’s people. Yet John seemed higher—a true, real, prophet indeed—someone who grasped the great mission of prophecy and gave himself over to it wholly. The Jewish people recognized this—to the point the religious leaders were scared to cross them—as John being a prophet indeed.
What is the point? Jesus uses this wording in speaking to us: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”(John 8:31-32). It is not that other disciples are not disciples. That is the proper way to describe all those who are attempting to follow Jesus. It is that there is a higher level of discipleship—just as there is a higher level of Israelite, widow, and prophet—that Jesus urges us toward. How do we reach it? “If you abide in My word”. A full-scale, higher-level devotion to the words of Jesus is required. We must live in His words—not just on Sunday or on occasion. We must set our mind to pursue a deeper knowledge of Jesus through His words. Further, abiding in the word means bridging the gap between the words of the book and the daily struggles and temptations of life. It means taking “blessed are the peacemakers” and making it into a plan of action. We must never rest until we have drawn closer to Jesus through hearing Him teach and become more like Jesus by ruthlessly applying His teaching. Jesus has a name for people like this—more than just a disciple—“you are My disciples indeed”. More, a promise is attached to this higher level of service: “and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”.
Don’t settle for being called a disciple, or Christian. Seek a higher level of service. Be a disciple indeed.