The word discipleship is a peculiar term to anyone who is not familiar with the Bible. It is not a word we use in our common everyday speech. I asked a small group what comes to mind when thinking of discipleship. The answers varied:
It is interesting to compare Jesus' life to this description. Though little is stated about His childhood, we read that He grew in wisdom (Luke 2:52) and began fulfilling the commandments indicated by ones first passover at age 12 (Luke 2:41). He then learned a trade (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3), spent time with John the Baptist (Luke 3:21; John 3:22-26), and began His ministry at around the age of thirty (Luke 3:23). As Jesus began his ministry many called Him Rabbi, clearly identifying the fact that he was qualified as a teacher and had students following Him.
For a person to be considered a disciple of a rabbi it meant they had a complete and total commitment to their teacher. The student was fully devoted to become like the Rabbi, so they spent all of their time with him in order to learn and observe. The relationship that Jesus had with His disciples can be described in this same way (Matt. 10:24-25; Luke 6:40). He chose them to be with Him (Mark 3:13-19) so they could be like Him (John 13:15).
There is something unique about how Jesus selected His disciples. Typically the students would pursue a Rabbi, much like a person would apply for school today. Essentially they submit their application and hope to get accepted. This would not be the case for the Son of God. He knew who His disciples were so He went after them and called them. Jesus went out and sought His disciples often by the simple command "Follow me." In similar fashion this is how He calls His disciples today by sending the Holy Spirit to pursue them like the "hound of heaven" to call them to Himself. When Jesus says "follow," we respond!
Jesus Final Words
Farewell speeches, or last words, have an immense affect upon us. If we have lost a loved one we often reflect back and think upon those last few cherished words. Before Jesus left and ascended into Heaven He shared with His followers what their marching orders were to be. He told them what it is that they are to do when He is gone. In Matthew's summary we read, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19) In Mark's gospel we get a little further explanation of the tool that we are to use in order to make disciples, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15). Here we read the instrumentality that God uses to make disciples is the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus. So, in the future blog posts we are going to dive deep into this process of being a disciple and making disciples. At the foundation it begins with the gospel and making sure you understand the gospel and have responded to it. In future blog posts we are going to consider this gospel in a little more detail.
Contributor / Eric Stewart
Eric Stewart is the Lead Pastor of ONElife Church in Flint, MI.