He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” [Luke 6:39-40 (ESV)]
In Pieces of Eight, columnist Sydney Harris tells the story of a dinner party at which an elderly Albert Einstein was seated next to an eighteen-year-old girl. Unaware of his identity, she asked the famed professor what he did for a living. “I devote myself to the study of physics,” he responded. Shocked that he still studied physics at his age, she told him she’d finished her physics studies the previous year! Without a doubt, Albert Einstein knew more about physics than anyone else of his time and yet he continued to study physics until his death. Harris’s explanation is that the physicist recognized that what he didn’t know far outweighed all that he did.
In Jesus’s day, the word disciple referred to a student or apprentice and was usually associated with people who devotedly followed a religious leader or philosopher. Christian writer Dallas Willard suggests replacing the word disciple in our Bibles with apprentice or student to get the true meaning of the word. Just as Einstein continued to be a student of physics, if we are true disciples of Christ, we must continue to be His students. Discipleship doesn’t end with accepting Christ; it begins. It requires commitment to be with and know Him, to grow more like Him, and to continually learn from Him.
Einstein continued to spend time in his physics laboratory. We must continue spending time with Jesus through prayer and Bible study. In studying the Gospels and Acts, we find His words, repeat His words, and reflect on them. In the Epistles, we learn how to apply those words. We then turn our attention from the New to the Old Testament to learn our history and how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies. Finally, we fulfill the commission given to the original disciples. The students are to become the teachers and find new students. Since the blind can’t lead the blind, we will continue to study and, after reading from Genesis to Revelation, start over again! We are life-long disciples who, like Albert Einstein, recognize that what we don’t know far outweighs what little we do.
Any fool can know. The point is to understand. … Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it. [Albert Einstein]