Matthew 28:19 says, “Go therefore and make disciples”. This was Jesus’ final command to his disciples as He left this earth to return to the Father in heaven—five simple words that form one small statement. But this final command of Jesus summarizes His purpose for those who call themselves His followers, His disciples, those who wish to learn from Him. While this commission from Jesus has been performed for millennia since the ascension, it is often vague or misunderstood so that those who believe themselves to be “making disciples” really are not. So what does a disciple-maker do? What does it look like for one to make a disciple? In order to make disciples one must know what a disciple is, what the internal characteristics of a disciple are, what the external characteristics of a disciple are, how Jesus made disciples, how one will make disciples, as well as what success will look like in making disciples. This series will engage those topics continuing with: How Jesus Made Disciples. The gospels lay out how Jesus made disciples in 5 steps.
First, Jesus called for disciples. He did not wait for them to come to Him and inquire about how they may or may not get involved. He went to where they were. He got in their fishing dingy (Luke 5:1-3). He passed by and visited them at their workplace (Mark 2:13-14). Jesus did not just visit them at a synagogue meeting or when friends had a party. He engaged them in areas where they spent a lot of their time and life. He even went out of His way to visit them at their homes (John 1:43). But Jesus did not just go to where they were, He called them from where they were. He called for them to get out of their boats and follow Him (Luke 5:1-3). He invited them to leave their work behind and follow Him (Mark 2:13-14). Jesus was inviting them to come and see Him, to meet Him, to know and love Him (John 1:45-51). Jesus called for disciples where they were and from where they were. He went to people and called them to have faith in Him (John 4; John 9).
Second, Jesus modeled life to His disciples. Jesus did not just sit around in an ivory educational tower teaching the disciples what a disciple was…He showed them. Jesus denied Himself all the time. His very existence in the form of a man was a self-denial (Philippians 2:6-8). While He was well above menial tasks, Jesus never acted as if He was anything but a servant (John 13:1-20). Jesus led by example in many ways throughout His life. From the very beginning, Jesus was modeling the life of a disciple for His disciples. While in the wilderness, He even demanded John to baptize Him, not because He needed a baptism of repentance, but to fulfill the righteous plan of God and set an example to His disciples (Matthew 3:13-15). Even in the face of great temptation Jesus modeled the life of a submissive disciple. When tempted three times by Satan, when He could have called down a legion of angels to catch Him, what did Jesus do? Submitted to the Father’s plan and obeyed the Father’s Word (Luke 4:1-13). Jesus modeled the life of a disciple to His disciples, all the way to the end (Matthew 27:32-50).
Third, Jesus lived with His disciples. He did not just visit with them every third Thursday of the month. Jesus actually lived life in the highways and byways with His disciples. He traveled to the places they traveled (Matthew 8:23). Jesus ate meals with His disciples (Matthew 9:10). He even walked the same roads with them and shared snacks from time to time (Matthew 12:1). He used normal routine activities of life to teach real life discipleship rather than hypocritical religiosity. Jesus did things with the disciples. He would share responsibility with them, delegating actions to be taken (Matthew 21:1-3). Christ served alongside of His disciples to minister to people (Mark 8:6). He did all of this in life with the disciples because He was not just teaching religion, He was making disciples. Jesus lived with His disciples.
Fourth, Jesus loved His disciples. He showed His love for them by protecting them on many occasions. When in the middle of a great storm that the disciples were so distressed about they thought they would die, Jesus calmed the storm and protected them (Mark 4:35-39). He protected His disciples by standing up and defending them against hypocritical false teachers (Matthew 12:1-8). And Jesus protected His disciples from false teachers not just directly, but indirectly by teaching them how to identify these deceitful tutors (Matthew 16:5-12). But Jesus loves was more than just protection it was action. Jesus loved His disciples to the end, completely (John 13:1). He held nothing back in service and love to them (John 13:4-5). Jesus loved His disciples by teaching and praying for them and with them (John 17:8-9, 15). And greatest of all, Jesus demonstrated His love for His disciples by laying His life down for them (John 15:13). Jesus loved His disciples.
Finally, Jesus sent His disciples. He sent them to serve others (Matthew 14:13-22). When Jesus was ministering to a group of people He enlisted the help and aid of His disciples alongside of Him. But Jesus went further. Knowing He would one day leave this earth, to return to Heaven and prepare His disciples a place (john 14:1-3), Jesus commissioned His disciples to continue preaching the gospel. He did this first of all, while He was still around (Luke 9:1-6). But Christ also said they would be His witnesses and empowered them to continue without Him by sending His Spirit to indwell them (Acts 1:8). Jesus’ final command to His disciple was to make disciples. Jesus sent His disciples to do just that.
And as His disciples we are called to the same thing. Are we making disciples? Are you calling for them? Modeling the life of a disciple to them? Living life alongside of them? Loving them? And are you sending them to make more disciples? The mission of Jesus was to make disciples that would make disciples. The mission Jesus gave His church was to make disciples. How are you doing at being a disciple?
Make sure to stop by next week where this series on discipleship continues with How You Can Make Disciples!
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