Online Bible College
Carelinks Home
FREE Literature
'Bible Lives' Home
Bible Books Home
Buy this Book!
Bible Lives  

15. The disciples

15-9 The Spiritual Growth of the Disciples

The Lord’s conscious attempt to develop the twelve appears to have paid off to some extent, even during His ministry. For there was evidently some spiritual growth of the disciples even during the ministry. There are indications that even before the Lord’s death, the disciples did indeed progressively grasp at least some things about Him. John’s Gospel is divided into what has been called ‘The book of signs’ (Jn. 1:19-12:50) and ‘the book of glory’ (Jn. 13:1 and following). In the book of signs, the disciples always refer to the Lord as “rabbi” or “teacher”; whereas in the book of glory, they call him “Lord”. We have seen in other character studies how spiritual maturity is reflected in some ways by a growth in appreciation of the titles used of God. Although Jesus was not God Himself,  so it seems was the case in how the disciples increasingly came to respect and perceive the Lordship of Jesus.   

Philip was the one who commented that “two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient” for the crowd to eat and be filled. Yet he uses the same, relatively uncommon, Greek word some time later, when he says that if he could see the Father, it would ‘suffice’ him (Jn. 6:7; 14:8). Perhaps John intended to bring out the growth in Philip; he now perceived that the bread created by the Lord for the crowd was indeed representative of the bread of life, the Lord Jesus who was the manifestation of the Father. The Lord had taught in Jn. 6:35 that He was the bread, and He bade His followers ‘see’ Him; and Philip had absorbed the point, even though, as the Lord makes clear, Philip still did not ‘see’ Him as he ought. 

Peter’s proclamation of Jesus as Messiah half way through Mark’s record of the Gospel (Mk. 8:29) is presented by him as a climax of understanding. And yet according to Jn. 1:41, Andrew and Peter had known this right from the start. The implication is surely that they, as simple working men, probably illiterate, had merely repeated in awe words and phrases like “Messiah” and “Son of God” with no real sense of their import. Yet again, the Lord gently bore with their misunderstandings, and Peter of his own initiative, 18 months later, came to gleefully blurt out the same basic ideas but with now far deeper insight- although he still incorrectly perceived the Messiah as one who would not suffer but provide instant glorification. Thus the spiritual growth of the disciples is revealed.