When Jesus called His disciples, He asked them to follow Him and spend time with Him in order for them to learn and grow. He didn’t just tell them what to do—He showed them by living it out as they watched and participated in His ministry.
In the same way, when we want to disciple someone, we should be spending time with that person, getting to him/her, and modeling discipleship with Christ in our daily living. We needn’t be burdened with memorizing the whole Bible or using too much curriculum, because actually living out our faith has a much more powerful impact on the observer than a theoretical concept ever could.
And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:18-19
In calling His disciples, Jesus asked that they walk away from their old lives in order to seek a new way. Today’s decision to follow Christ is no different; it requires sacrificing another part of your life not only to learn about Jesus, but also to live a transformed by Him. Once His disciples had made a commitment to follow Him, Jesus could begin His transformative work in their hearts by showing and telling.
He only needs our open hearts that are willing to listen, follow, and copy what He does, because Christ and nothing else is the foundation upon which we are built.
When Jesus was choosing disciples, He chose fishermen who were uneducated and untrained. He didn’t turn to the religious leaders who had too much religious baggage to hear and understand what He had to teach; He didn’t turn to political leaders who would have evoked too many opinions and polarization as they ministered to others; and He didn’t turn to a rich or powerful person who had too many entanglements to walk away from their former lifestyle. This is not to say that these people can’t receive the Gospel of salvation, but rather that Jesus shows us He doesn’t need our education, experience, preparation, or resources to impact the world. He only needs our open hearts that are willing to listen, follow, and copy what He does, because Christ and nothing else is the foundation upon which we are built.
Jesus modeled and taught His disciples:
1. Obedience to God’s Word. John 8:28, Matthew 22:37-40
Just before His death, Jesus validated that He was really sent from the Father.
Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.”John 8:28
Jesus depended on the Bible and taught His disciples to obey the Father’s Word. He did this not just by telling others to be obedient, but also by modeling His own dependence on God’s word whenever He was tempted or challenged. (Jesus quotes the Old Testament 66 times throughout the New Testament!) He modeled the use of Scripture as a guide for everything He did so that we could know that it is available to us as a guide for everything in our lives as well.
In our own discipleship of others, we first have to model the Gospel as Jesus did. People who just tell what the Bible says but don’t model it reveal their lack of commitment to the Christian life and only become self-righteous.
2. Reliance on the Holy Spirit through prayer. Luke 5:16, Luke 11:1-2
Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”
So He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven…” Luke 11:1-2
Jesus was known as a Man of prayer and He taught His disciples to pray. He didn't just tell His disciples to pray; He drew away for prayer consistently, He showed them prayer in action before His miracles, and He allowed them to see how prayer was intertwined with His actions.
If you are discipling another person, they will likely not see the value or the impact of a powerful prayer life unless they actually see you praying for your day, your actions, your shortcomings, your impact, your enemies, your co-workers, your loved ones, etc. and seeing first hand how God’s influence changes you and your life.
Think about your own prayer life: do you have a regular time when you pray? How impactful or “hot” is your prayer life?
3. Self-sacrificial lifestyle. Luke 22:42, Mark 9:35
And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”Luke 22:41-42
Jesus surrendered His life. He taught servanthood and showed that His life was not all about Him.
If someone were to follow you around all day and watch how you talk, what you do, and how you spend your money, would they say you are selfish or unselfish? You can’t teach servanthood unless you serve and you can’t teach humility unless you are humble. Pastor Miles challenged us to always assume we are being watched. If our lives are right before the Lord, others will absorb this discipleship lesson without any words at all.
4. Soul winning. Mark 1:14-15, Acts 10:42
Jesus preached the Gospel and commanded us to preach.
Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God… Mark 1:14
Throughout His ministry, Jesus called people to repent, to sin no more and go the other way.
How often do you challenge people to repent? People need to be challenged to sin no more, to stop cursing, stop sleeping around, stop abusing alcohol, and start obeying God. Once people have made a decision to be a disciple of Christ, they should not simply commit to coming to church every week, but to repent from former life choices that did not please God and to repent from things that hold them back from experiencing the fullness of a relationship with Christ. It is about seeking a new lifestyle by following Him.
So what is the next step for you in your discipleship journey? Are you at a place where you are ready to start following Him and learning from His model? Do you need to examine your own actions, repent from old habits and seek a new rich life abundant in prayer and God’s Word? Are you ready to begin discipling others, pouring into their lives by spending time with them and allowing them to watch and learn from your example? Wherever you are in your own faith journey, take another step forward today!