Disciples of Jesus bear the name, “Christian.” It is a divinely given name for those who belong to Christ.
Jesus is our Master (Jude 1:4). Like many slaves of the first century, we take on the identity, character, and qualities of our Master (Matthew 10:25). We have no status of our own. Our will has been subsumed by his, our character has been shaped by his. We should echo Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Perhaps we think quickly about what that means for us. We are tasked with becoming like Jesus. Paul told the Galatian brethren, that he was in agony “until Christ [was] formed” in them (Galatians 4:19). Christians are “to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29).
It is essential that we understand that to become like our Master is our life’s aim. But do we consider what being his disciple has already done for us? Sharing in the nature and status of our Master has a profound impact on our lives. /1
He is the King and we are his kingdom
Jesus is “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16). He was born to be king (Matthew 2:2). On the first day he met the Lord, Nathanael confessed he was king (John 1:49). The people wanted to make him king (John 6:15), and received him into Jerusalem as king (Luke 19:38). While he rejected being made king and the people ultimately rejected him as king, he sits on his throne and reigns! (1 Corinthians 15:25).
Because Jesus is King, we can be his kingdom. God has “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). He made us a “kingdom” (Revelation 1:6). Because we are a kingdom, we “reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10).
He is our High Priest and we are his priesthood
Jesus is a “merciful and faithful high priest” (Hebrews 2:17). He is a “great high priest” (Hebrews 4:14), who can sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). He is a “high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:20), who is holy, innocent, unstained, and exalted above the heavens, seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven (Hebrews 7:26; 8:1). He offers his own blood for our redemption (Hebrews 9:12).
Because Jesus is the High Priest, we are his priesthood. Jesus made us “priests to his God and Father” (Revelation 1:6). We are made a “holy priesthood” in order to offer “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). We offer up these sacrifices by faith (see Philippians 2:17). As Jesus offered up his blood as a sacrifice for sins, we offer up our bodies as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).
Additionally, there are other connections that are life-altering.
Jesus is the Holy One (Mark 1:24; Acts 3:14), and we are saints or holy ones (Philippians 4:21). As the Messiah, Jesus is the “Chosen One” (Luke 23:35), and we are God’s chosen one’s (Colossians 3:12, ESV). Jesus is the Son of God (John 1:18), and we are sons of God (Galatians 3:26-27; 1 John 3:1).
And in my favorite connection, Jesus is the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6), and we are beloved ones (Colossians 3:12). God loves the world (John 3:16), but those who are in Jesus share a special connection with the Creator. He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the one who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see, he loves you so deeply and so purely that you cannot comprehend it. Oh, what love!
We didn’t fight to establish our own kingdom, nor were we so notable as to be selected as priests. We did not cleanse our own hearts to be holy, nor where we so noble as to be sons. We are what we are by the grace of God and the nature of our Master. By the mercies of Jehovah we can reap what Jesus has sown.
1/ I am indebted to Everett Ferguson and his books, The New Testament Church (Abilene, TX: Desert Willow, 2016), and The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), for bringing these connections to my mind in such a powerful way.