So a man shows up on the scene unlike any other man. He’s teaching with authority. He’s healing the sick. He’s casting out demons with his voice. People are amazed, shocked, and sometimes afraid. His message is one of impending judgment and free grace. The masses are drawn in.
The man has an iron will, determination like a freight train. Unstoppable. Fearless.
He’s something of an enigma—making a whip and clearing out the temple one day and laughing with children and comforting the sick on another. One day he approaches some fishermen and says, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
These men– and some others– start following him around. They become something of the inner circle—those who really, truly know the leader. They are given secrets into the mysteries of God. They are given insider information about the parables. They devote themselves to this man, and they are called disciples. And of course, the man I’m talking about is Jesus.
And, in a strange and somewhat unexpected twist of circumstances, their leader dies. The masses turned on him, the disciples fled, and Jesus got crucified. But three days later, he resurrects.After some time, Jesus starts giving them authority. They are sent on missions—spreading the message of good news and healing the sick. Sometimes, they even do miracles. They become something like an extension of Jesus, operating with his power, speaking his message. These disciples are the hands and feet and mouth of Christ.
And he speaks his parting words to his disciples before ascending into heaven. And you know what they are? Go make disciples. He says “I have all authority, so make disciples. I will be with you always, so make disciples.”
You see what happened? Here were some men who were everything but disciples. Fishermen. Politicians. Tax collectors. You name it. And Jesus calls them and makes them into disciples. And then, when Jesus leaves them, he tells them to make disciples. Now it’s their job.
Jesus’s life in the gospels has abundant description of his dealings with these certain twelve men. How he trained them. How he taught them. How he got them ready for ministry—how he made them disciples. And then, essentially, Jesus says—“You watched me do it. Now you do it.”
We talk a lot about discipleship here at Grace Brethren, mainly because we think it’s the central calling given to the church. I already mentioned Jesus’ final commissioning statement: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” in Matthew 28. A simple look at Jesus’ life is another strong case for discipleship—are we really faithfully modeling our lives after Jesus Christ if we have no concern for training and equipping the people around us? Not to mention the fact that in Ephesians 4 the pastors and teachers are given to the church “to equip the saints for the work of ministry.” That’s training—or, discipleship. 2 Timothy 2:2 couldn’t be clearer: central to pastoral work is training up young men who train up others also. So we are convinced that our God-given task is to preach, to pray, and to prepare young men and women for lives of service to the church—that is, make disciples.
Over the next few days I’ll be blogging through ten words: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). I’ll divide it into three sections:
- “Follow me”
- “And I will make you”
- “Fishers of men”
The goal is to think hard about what Jesus has called us to and come into a deeper understanding of our role in the story of redemption.