You and I are about to embark upon an amazing trip, back in time 2,000 years to the land of Palestine. There Jesus was born, lived, died, and was raised from the dead.
During his brief three-year ministry, Jesus gathered around him a band of followers, perhaps 120 or so, both men and women, who walked with him -- literally. As he traveled the roads of Galilee and Judea, with short trips into modern-day Lebanon, they walked along with him.
Walking with him -- that is how he taught them.
I've been fascinated about how Jesus trained his disciples -- and how he trains them today. It wasn't by formal courses but by an intimate, shared journey, an internship on foot, a JesusWalk. His disciples frequently traveled with him, heard his teachings, saw how he cared for people, how he healed the sick, delivered those overcome by the demonic, called people to their highest selves, and confronted hypocrisy. They saw him in times of relaxation and humor, of deep teaching and individual dialog. They also observed him under fire from critics and enemies, who finally engineered his execution.
Over these three years, they internalized his viewpoint, his compassion, his world view, and his passion. But that wasn't enough. They needed their spirits ignited by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 1-2). Once that took place, Jesus' band of Galilean followers became a mighty force that altered life in the Mediterranean world within a single generation.
We will take our journey through the eyes of Luke the Gospel writer. His observations will guide us as we seek to understand the Man and his Message -- and discern what he would say to twenty-first century disciples as he trains us for his service.
I invite you to go with me on a JesusWalk.
Take your time, however. This material was originally used as the basis of a weekly online Bible study -- one lesson each week -- that encompassed nearly three years and 6,000 participants from 124 countries. A disciple can only absorb so much at a time. Jesus' disciples would meditate on what they heard Jesus preach on -- they heard variations the same sermons day after day for months on end. At night, they would talk around the campfire or in a follower's home, trying to figure out what Jesus was talking about. Sometimes they would ask Jesus and he would explain further.
This disciple-making process involved rebuke, too. Peter, James, and John -- those disciples closest to Jesus were not immune. Rebuke was a great compliment -- that Jesus cared about them and was trying to help them learn to walk his way. As you walk with Jesus through these 120 lessons, you'll hear his rebuke, too. You'll hear Jesus begin to talk to you personally about his teachings as you think and pray about them. This JesusWalk is designed to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to be an total-immersion process of discipleship -- much like the first disciples experienced. It involves the mind, of course, but is not particularly intellectual. Jesus is training us to think like he does, to feel what he feels, to care about what he cares about. As we read, study, and meditate, we -- with the Spirit -- are learning "the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:9-16) and plumbing His depths.
This is a personal process. Each lesson concludes with a prayer. These were my personal prayers as I was talking this walk myself. Feel free to substitute your own thoughts in prayer to God.
Each lesson also includes several questions. These can be used to help you make sure that you are understanding rather than just reading. If you're using this material for a small group, they can be used as discussion questions.
I want to thank the many hundreds of fellow JesusWalkers that took this journey with me -- my congregation, Church of the Live Oaks, among them. My wife Jean contributed much was we talked through Jesus' teachings, trying to find his meaning, his point, his thrust.
Most of all I want to thank Jesus himself for his patience in training me to be his disciple -- and though me, I hope, you too.
Walk with me on this JesusWalk and be changed -- for good!
Ralph F. Wilson