October 17 I Sunday
1 Thessalonians 5
“After this, Jesus and His disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where He spent some time with them, and baptised.” —John 3:22
In the Gospels, there are predominantly two Greek words used to describe the concept of time. The first is chronos, which refers to measurable time like seconds, minutes, hours and days. The other word is kairos, which refers to an appointed or opportune time. Jesus used the word kairos when He said, “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). But there is a third word for time used only once in the Gospels that has profound implications for discipleship—diatribo.
Diatribo literally means “to rub in.” In the days of the New Testament, the word was commonly used to describe breaking in a pair of sandals, but a more helpful analogy comes from cooking. When cooking a steak, a chef will rub spices and sauces into the meat so the flavour soaks through the entire steak. This helps us picture the kind of time that Jesus spent with His disciples in the opening verse. For four to six months, Jesus intentionally “rubbed into” the disciples, letting His Word and character soak through them.
It was in the context of shared life, not just shared study of Scripture, that Jesus rubbed into His disciples. Scripture mainly records Jesus’s teachings and miracles, but there would have been many times where He simply enjoyed fellowship with them. When Jesus took his first few disciples to a wedding in Cana of Galilee, they heard no teaching from Him. They watched Him turn water into wine, but just as important was the glimpse they received of what Jesus was like in everyday life moments. They saw how He interacted with His mother, with servants, with friends and with other people.
When we consistently spend time with a person, we often pick up some of their phrases and mannerisms for ourselves. In the same way, when we diatribo with Jesus, His Spirit begins to transform how we speak and act to match His character. His thoughts become our thoughts, His ways become our ways, His desires become our desires and His priorities become our priorities. We become more and more like Him as He produces the fruit of the Spirit in us.
Mother Teresa once said, “Yesterday has gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin.” If we have not yet started to experience the intimacy and joy of diatribo with Christ, the best time to start is now. Start now with the moments, and the years of enjoying fellowship with Christ will increasingly become our instinct and our pleasure.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am blessed that You want to spend time rubbing into me. Thank You for how You are making my character match Your own.