BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 16: 24-28
Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:25- 27 (NKJV).
Jesus didn’t operate a formal school, but His disciples took quite a course. He discipled them over a three year period, not only establishing the course subject matter, but also setting the pattern by which future disciples should walk.
Jesus asked His disciples to do four things that churches and other training institutions rarely do. He asked them to abandon everything, to immerse themselves into a life of constant ministry, to depend on God and no one else for their resources, and to live in community.
It was a tough road Jesus walked; it is a road that His disciples have been struggling to walk ever since. He called it a narrow way. He didn’t try to soft sell its difficulty. Let us look at these four pillars of discipleship that Jesus required of those who would follow Him:
“So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” Luke 5:11(NIV).
Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62(NIV).
Jesus’ solution is a general purging. He asks His disciples to abandon the familiar, even their families. He won’t compete for our affection. The problem is that His disciples of today have far more to abandon than those of past generations. Separation anxiety is something to be wrestled with. The kind of total abandon He required of His disciples is a rare occurrence in our modern world.
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Matthew 4:23(NKJV).
Jesus forced His disciples to focus by immersing them in a program of continual ministry. The distractions of the past receded in the light of crowds of poor and hungry who needed to be fed, the sick who needed to be healed, and the hopeless who needed encouragement.
Disciples who had previously been self-absorbed and focused on issues of survival, began to center in on God’s agenda, building the kingdom by ministering to the many who came looking for a touch from God.
“He told them, ‘Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no extra tunic.” Luke 9:3(NIV).
Day by day, moment by moment, the disciples learned to depend on God for provision. As He provided for them, they learned to trust Him more. Jesus constantly pointed out when He saw faith in people, and this was His method to build up faith in His disciples.
• Body Life:
“When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose 12 of them…” Luke 6:13(NIV).
“…They found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together.” Luke 24:33(NIV).
Jesus had a lot of disciples, but he chose 12 and designated them as apostles. The crowds of disciples came and went, but the 12 went everywhere together. They were with one another continually over a period of about three years.
During that time, they got to know one another better and learned ministry together. In the process, they formed a group identity and experientially learned what it means to function as the body of Christ. They learned that they needed one another.
Lord, show me Your ways, and teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth, and teach me in Jesus Name Amen.