What does Christian Discipleship look like?
The idea of having disciples or apprentices was not a new one to the time. In fact, our modern forms of education would look foreign and wrong to people who passed on their skills to primarily their children and a few other apprentices. It was very common for parents to teach their sons their trade, and then, if they wanted to learn another one, they would always have their primary trade to fall back upon.
If you were headed in a Spiritual direction, you would learn in Scriptures occurred at the feet of a rabbi. This is what Paul is referring to in Acts 22:3 that his heritage was who he grew up under. This is why it wasn’t unheard of to have Jesus choose disciples, for many learned Rabbis would have disciples that would learn what they knew to follow in their footsteps.
The twelve were not Jesus’ only disciples or followers. Many people followed popular speakers. Crowds consisted of people that agreed, were open, and were antagonistic toward the message. This allowed for education of the audience as well as the growth of the disciples. While we know that he chose twelve, many followed him. There were whole crowds, numbering in the thousands sometimes, that were coming to hear Him speak. Crowds gathered wherever He went, so many were hearing His teachings. On the day of Pentecost, there were 120 that were gathered together in the Upper Room that were followers of Him.
The Point of Discipleship was for Training – Luke 6:37-42
The disciple was to eventually be like the master. Just as the blind cannot lead the blind, or else they both fall in the ditch, those who are more spiritual need to be helping to train those that less spiritual. Galatians 6:1-10 teaches us that if we are spiritual, we should bear each other’s burdens and teach.
Jesus taught for period of time. He trained them in doctrine. He preached messages to convict and called into question the religious teachings of the day as mere images of what was real. People came away stunned by His teachings not only because they examined the heart, but that He spoke with authority. He also performed miracles to authenticate who He was.
Most of all, He shared His life with them—teaching them how to live. They were able to see Him get up in the morning and go to bed at night. They saw Him during the most difficult trials and when he was mocked, ridiculed and dressed down by the powers that be. They saw everything…
This is much like child training. We feed, clothe and raise our children. We teach them in the way that they should go. We live our lives with them, and by doing so, we hope to pass on good character traits to them and our faith.
The point of Discipleship is to Prepare for Future Leadership
There was a point at which Jesus was no longer going to be physically present with them. He told them that He was going to be killed.
- Mark 8:31-33 – Jesus predicts He will be tried and killed.
- Mark 9:30-32 – Jesus predicts He will be betrayed and killed.
- Matthew 20:17-19 – Jesus predicts He will die of Crucifixion.
Though they may not have totally understood it, He was very clear– something they were very aware of after His resurrection.
He told them He would be leaving. In John 14, Jesus told them that he’d be leaving to prepare a place for them and that He would send the Holy Spirit in His place. Everything that Jesus did was intentionally to that end– that His disciples would be prepared for when he would leave. Matthew 10:1-15 shows Jesus forcing His disciples to minister. Think about it…
If they could, the disciples would have let Jesus do all the ministering! If they could, they would have continued to just listen to Jesus speak. And who could blame them?
This is much like us when we want the preacher to share the Gospel and then want that preacher to make disciples. Sharing the Gospel and making disciples costs us something. It costs us time, reputation, and comfort. It attracts detractors and those that will miscast what you do as evil. Jesus told His followers that if they didn’t get persecution than they should be concerned!
Instead, Jesus chooses 12, sends them out in power, and then had them report back. It’s a training mission. By doing this, they were well equipped for when He did leave them. They grew further, much like a baby bird leaving the nest to find its own food.
Jesus knew, and we need to understand the power of multiplication.
- If each of His 12 disciples simply created 1 disciple, there’d be 24 Disciples of Christ.
- If they each made 2, there’d be 36.
- If each of the 24 new ones made 2 disciples, there’d be 84!
They started with 120, and saw 3,000 souls saved on the day of Pentecost. Now you can understand what they meant when it was said that they turned the World upside down!