When the Lord Jesus Christ began his public ministry, did he do anything we cannot do? I want to ask my readers to answer that question for themselves, and apply it to their ministry. What did Jesus do?
I am asking you to also come with me to the record that John the Apostle has left us. I want to assume that you share with me a confident trust in the truth of the scriptures, and that you believe that what John wrote is exactly what happened. After all, he was there.
We see in the first chapter of the Gospel of John that our Lord called together a small band of men from the first day of his public ministry. Five men became his followers in the first few days. He gave them a clear invitation, and they accepted. They would follow him. They would get to know him, they would learn from him, they would be given their assignments by him. They would become his disciples from the very first moment they agreed to follow him. Becoming a disciple of Jesus is about “becoming” not “arriving.”
They did not understand everything he was about to say or do, but they were now in close proximity to the one they would come to call Lord. They were truly following him. They watched him, they listened to him, they questioned him, and they began to receive his teaching. The more time they spent with him the more they realized the consequences of following him. Eventually they gave up their own lives to serve only him, which really meant that they gave themselves wholly to the God and Father of their Lord. They modeled for all who would come after what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
Now ask yourself: “is that what I am doing with my life?” Are you on that same journey as the first five, or not? When the Lord Jesus left them and returned to the Father, they began to imitate what Jesus had modeled. Are you modeling that same behavior? It has essentially only two steps: I am discipled by someone who is following Jesus, and I begin to disciple others who hear the call to follow him.
Now it is critical to note that the essential heart of both steps is relational. Jesus does not hand out a workbook. He does not establish a program for them to complete. He does not herd them into a classroom. He calls them to live alongside him. They are to share his life and thus to be changed, day by day, by observing what it means to be wholly given to God.
And when the right time comes, they are to do the same with others. They begin to become disciple-makers. They imitate our Lord’s first year.
Next Week: The Simplest Steps