Jesus gave the disciples a grand commissioning. Long discussions and numerous conferences focus on Matthew 28:19-20. We could discuss this at length and analyze the various aspects, but let’s look at one element of the commission.
Who are the disciples? If I am one, or want to be a student of this Jewish teacher, how do I become one?
Perhaps we might say that following Jesus carries a couple of key elements. Some will say this is too reductive, and others will say this is too complicated, and others will say I’ve missed nothing but the main point. Nevertheless …
First, we learn from him. We listen to what he says, we learn from him, and we try to do what he says. And he asks a lot: “Deny yourself.” “Take up your cross.” “Follow me.” In effect, he says, “Lose your agenda. Know that this whole affair costs more than anything you could imagine. And follow where I lead.”
Second, in the midst of listening, trying to learn and obey, we have to believe him. Believe what? The things he says about himself, about God, about ourselves. This proves trying.
In the midst of learning from him, we ponder what Jesus has said. His words make sense because doing what he says does mean forsaking our own agenda, it is costly, and this does follow his steps. His steps lead to what concludes the gospels: the sending out.
“Go, proclaim the kingdom … heal … baptize … teach them to obey all that I commanded you …” He says these things. He tells us to do them.
We do it because he tells us to. What happens in the carrying out of this grand task of teaching others the secrets he’s whispered in our ears? We learn them. They develop into something real. Like the toys in Geppetto’s woodshop, those of us doing and obeying start feeling as if we are coming to life. We are learning life from its great teacher.
We become his students as we believe and do what he says. We are disciples as we approach him, giving up what we have sought for ourselves to believe and carrying out what he seeks to give this world.
What is my concept of discipleship? How have I carried this out?
If I follow Jesus, will others want to know where I am going? (See John 11:30-45, with emphasis on 30-31 and 45).
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