Did you know that you’re called to make disciples? What does it mean to make disciples, and how do you do it?
Sounds like a huge task, doesn’t it?
Now, imagine you’re one of the apostles standing before Jesus after He’s risen from the dead and gives you this mission: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18-19).
Facing this huge, important task, they didn’t ask, “What does it mean to make disciples?”
Like any hard task, it helps to have a model. I got pretty good at throwing a football because of my dad. A quarterback himself, he molded my fingers to the laces, guided my hands to where I should hold it and showed me how to throw with a quick release and a strong spiral.
I didn’t have to learn from a set of instructions. It had already been shown to me.
That’s the beautiful thing about Jesus giving this mission to His disciples at this point in the story. When He first met them, they’d have no idea what to do. But Jesus had intentionally showed them exactly how to make disciples with His perfect example throughout His ministry.
Jesus had already modeled it for them—and He’s modeled it for you, too!
What Does it Mean to Make Disciples?
1. Share the Good News.
Jesus told his disciples about a different kind of Kingdom. Each of his disciples followed Him because they understood He was offering them something new. No longer were they waiting for a Messiah. No longer were they playing the rule-following religious thought of the self-righteous Pharisees.
Jesus showed them they didn’t have to be perfect or act perfect in this Kingdom. In fact, what the culture calls weakness was strength. And that life, through Jesus, was eternal. That is the good news that you received, beginning your discipleship. And that is the good news Jesus wants us to share with others.
2. Jesus showed the Word.
As John the Baptist proclaimed, Jesus didn’t need to get baptized before going forth and starting His ministry. “I need to be baptized by you, and you come to me?”
But he was showing us how new believers who have received the word are to be baptized to symbolize their new life in Christ. In Matthew 28, after telling his followers to make disciples, He includes “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Beyond the act of baptism, Jesus wants us to have real relationships with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Throughout scripture, Jesus spoke to the Father and showed us what it meant to live with the Holy Spirit inside of us.
What does it mean to make disciples and show them the word? We go through life with them as true friends, show them how to speak to our Heavenly Father through prayer, and live with Holy Spirit inside of us—by “being rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17) and spending time alone with God.
3. Jesus showed his disciples how to teach the Word.
At certain points throughout the gospels, Jesus tells a parable to the crowd and only reveals its meaning to His disciples. It wasn’t because Jesus wanted to make the interpretation exclusive. Instead, he knew some people listening would reject anything for their own personal reasons. Consider the rich young man who could not sell everything he owned to begin his discipleship and follow Jesus.
The disciples on the other hand were all open to Jesus’ message, so He teaches it to them. In the same way, by spending time with Jesus and His Word, we can learn how to teach it to new disciples.
4. Jesus modeled the servant attitude.
The night before Jesus was crucified, He got down and served the disciples by washing their feet. He was showing us that discipleship is always about serving. We must remember that God has put us there to serve their needs, as physical as their dirty feet and as spiritual as their eternal salvation.
Jesus Painted the Picture for Making Disciples
So, what does it mean to make disciples? Jesus gave us a clear picture. But He also gave us an important promise.
He assures us, “I am always with you to the end of the age.”
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