The word “discipline” is the same root word as the word “disciple.” Let’s explore 12 ways that Jesus disciplined His disciples.
- Teaching – Just as God has compassion on His children, Jesus was also known for His compassion on sinners. This verse tells us that when Jesus felt compassion on the crowd, He demonstrated His compassion on them by teaching them.
When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd,and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. (Mark 6:34)
- Modeling – Jesus taught His disciples to pray, to live, and to love through modeling. He was the perfect example for them (and for us) to follow.
For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. (John 13:15)
- Serving – Jesus did not lead His disciples the way the rest of the world’s leaders do. He did not come to be served but to serve others and to give His life for us. He served His disciples to teach them to serve others.
So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)
- Forgiving – Jesus taught His disciples to forgive others by forgiving them. He did not hold their sins against them. He did not throw their past crimes in their faces. He gave them the gift of a clean slate. Relationships are broken through sin, but relationships are restored through forgiveness.
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:48)
- Loving – God is love, therefore Jesus is the living representation of love. Jesus loved His disciples just as God loved Him. He loved His disciples by giving His life for them – even when they did not deserve it.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. (John 15:9)
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
- Being Patient – Jesus was extremely patient with his disciples. He patiently endured their constant questions (Matthew 17:10), their lack of understanding (Matthew 15:16), their overwhelming needs (Matthew 15:29-31)… sound familiar, parents of toddlers?
“Love is patient…” (1 Corinthians 13:4a)
- Extending Grace – Jesus did not deal with people according to the law or their mistakes or their sins. He extended grace – over and over and over. Jesus ultimately extended grace to His disciples when He gave His life in their place. Instead of giving them the punishment that they deserved, He took their punishment for them (in the same way my own father did for me).
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)
- Rebuking – Jesus also rebuked his disciples. Ironically, the word “rebuke” in Greek is the word “epitimao.” It means “to reprove, to censure severely, to charge sharply.” It also means “to honor.” Jesus was not afraid to tell his disciples sternly when they were wrong. However, notice that Jesus did not rebuke His disciples for differences in personal preferences, but rather He rebuked them for not concerning themselves with the things that matter to God.
But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” (Mark 8:33)
- Correcting – Jesus corrected lies with the truth. He corrected false doctrine and false teaching. Jesus not only corrected belief, He also corrected behavior. Once, He even corrected two bickering disciples by giving them the example of a child!
“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:43-44)
An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest. But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side, and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.” (Luke 9:46-48)
- Instructing – Jesus also took the time to instruct His disciples. He gave them instructions on prayer (Luke 11:1-13) and fasting (Matthew 6:16-18). His instructions were specific (Matthew 21:1-7) and clear (Matthew 10:1-15).
The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them… (Matthew 21:6)When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. (Matthew 11:1)
- Training – Jesus trained His disciples for ministry by giving them opportunities to put into practice the things they had seen and heard from Jesus Himself. A disciple’s training was in stages: (1) listening/observing, (2) practicing while the Master listens/observes and (3) being sent out on your own to make more disciples. In Luke 9:1-27, we see Jesus sending out the disciples to proclaim the Gospel. Scripture teaches that Jesus gave them power and authority. What a beautiful picture of our role as parents! From the day our children are born, we are training them to one day be sent out with power and authority to proclaim the Gospel.
- Showing Compassion – Jesus was known for being a man of great compassion. He felt compassion to His followers physical needs like when they were hungry (Matthew 15:32), but He also had compassion for their emotional needs (Luke 7:13).
And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” (Matthew 15:32)
And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” (Luke 7:13)
(You may need to ask your children for their help on these)
1. How would our parenting transform if we sought to disciple and discipline our children the way that Jesus did?
2. What am I teaching my children?
3. How am I modeling Christlike attitudes and behaviors for my children?
4. What example do I set for my children in dealing with their attitudes and behaviors?
5. Am I “flaunting my authority” over my children like worldly leaders do? Or am I seeking to serve my children as Jesus served His disciples?
6. When was the last time that I asked my children for forgiveness?
7. Do my children know and believe that they are completely forgiven by God and by me? Or are there certain “sins” or “behaviors” that I continually bring up over and over?
8. What motivates forgiveness in our home: fear of punishment or love for the individual I have offended?
9. How can I love my child in the midst of their sadness, anger, frustration, etc.?
10. What does it look like to live out 1 Corinthians 13 as a parent with my child?
11. Would my children consider me to be a patient parent or an impatient parent? (ASK THEM!)
12. How do my children feel when I am impatient with them? (ASK THEM!)
13. How do I feel when others are impatient with me?
14. What is a situation in which I am tempted to be impatient with my children? What changes can I make to my behavior and attitude in order to remain patient and calm?
15. How do I extend grace to my children?
16. Do I rebuke my children for differences of opinion/preference? Or do I rebuke my children in love because of their sin against God?
17. What beliefs am I correcting in my children?
18. What behaviors am I correcting in my children?
19. How am I correcting sinful beliefs and behaviors?
20. Are my instructions to my children specific and clear?
21. How do I respond when my children do not follow my instructions?
22. How am I training my children to be “sent out”?
23. In what areas do I need to give my children power and authority?
24. How can I respond to my children’s physical needs with compassion?
25. How can I respond to my children’s emotional needs with compassion?
26. In what ways could I represent Jesus more to my children? (ASK THEM!)