What does it mean to be intentional about making disciples? And why is this so important?
Jesus decided to interject himself into human history at a certain time and into a certain tradition: Israel’s rabbi culture at the turn of the millennium. He could have chosen any time frame, any civilization, with any tool necessary. Why not 21st century America? After all, the United States spreads its long shadow around the world. It exports billions of dollars in entertainment. And after all, who wouldn’t tune into Jesus on Larry King Live?
Yet Jesus chose a minor occupied state during a relatively inane period of history. Why?
Rabbis walked the country with their disciples during Jesus’ time. If you were one of the fortunate chosen few, the best of the best, the smartest of the smart, you might be asked by a rabbi to be his disciple. “Follow me” was the simple but profound invitation from a rabbi to live life under his instruction.
Then the dozen or so disciples would literally follow the rabbi. He would teach, much as God outlined in the Old Testament: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
As each disciple followed his rabbi, the teacher would explain from the scriptures as they encountered the many experiences of life. Each disciple had already memorized the entirety of the Hebrew scripture, but each day brought a deeper understanding of the dynamic combination of truth and life. Rabbis used the most complete, interactive, three-dimensional, multi-media classroom known to man: the world around them. (Our educational system could learn a thing or two here.)
Jesus invested himself and 12 disciples into this culture. He rejected political power, fame, wealth and influence during the three years with his followers. Then he handed the baton to them. Everything he had worked for was placed squarely into their hands:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Millions have followed Jesus through the ages because of these twelve. Strings of disciples passed his thoughts on through the ages. To us. Can we be as intentional about passing Jesus’ thoughts to younger men and women? Will we teach them as we pass through life? Do we value this method as Jesus did? If so, whom are you discipling right now? If not, whom will you disciple?
Jesus wisely invested his life in discipleship. He wants us to do the same, to become “fishers of men.”
Describe discipleship in your own words. Does it work?
What are you doing to become a disciple? To disciple others?
Do you believe in this system as much as Jesus did?
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