Jesus as a Model of Discipleship

Everyone wants to speak of Jesus as the model of community. He lived and breathed and ate with the disciples. How community must be present in order for true discipleship. Very true. Very convicting.

However, if you keep reading in the gospels, you see that at the end of the 2-3 years, most of the disciples are not what you might be proud of. One denied him three times, to the point of swearing. Another one didn’t believe he rose from the grave, even though he had repeatedly prophesied that he would. Not to mention the one who betrayed him for a few dollars.

But after Jesus left, and the Holy Spirit came, these same men exploded. Why is that? What is the lesson here?

1.Keep Teaching

Even when it seems like they don’t get it, even when you know they don’t get it. Keep teaching.

“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted." (Matthew 28:16-17, ESV)

They saw him at the resurrection. But some doubted. THEY SAW HIM. But still some doubted. Even after Jesus telling them he would rise from the dead. Even after they saw him. They still didn’t get it.

Now, easy for Jesus to do, you might say. He knew the outcome. He knew that Peter would get it eventually. He knew what would happen in the early church. But he also knew that some would never get it. That some would walk away from his feet, because what he taught was a hard teaching. Knew that Judas would betray him. Still he taught, ate with, walked with, lived with them. He called Judas to be a disciple even when he knew what the outcome would be. The fact of the matter is that we don’t know how a person will respond, but we must keep doing what God has called us to do.

2.The choice is theirs not ours

Anyone who has poured out their heart to God in prayer, given everything they had within them to a person, teaching them about God, just to watch them walk away, knows the pain of this reality. I believe pastors feel this pain about every week. Additionally, any parent who has strived so hard to raise their children correctly, in the way that they should go, only to see them follow the desires of the flesh, knows this pain also. I think we can see this pain, hear it in his voice as Jesus interacts with Judas in the last days.

The truth is that there is no magic key, no secret formula, to get someone to follow God. That is not the way God made us. It is a choice. And the choice is all ours.

3.Holy Spirit makes the difference

Before you say “duh”, let’s think this through. We know that the choice still remains to the individual. I believe part of discipleship is presenting a person with the information they need to make the right choice. When I can show a student the reality of God’s greatness, the majesty of His glory, I believe that sticks with them. Even when we think it doesn’t. I’m not saying we remember every word of every sermon we’ve heard, but a part of it sticks with us. Then when the Holy Spirit comes, those things are ignited like kindling. Part of my job as a pastor is not to convince or persuade, but to provide the kindling for the Holy Spirit to ignite. So when we are faced with that choice that we all make, the choice is harder to make.

And not just salvation either. When temptation arises, I desire for them to know the truth about Christ, and about sin. That Christ is the only one who can satisfy. In order to choose temptation, I want them to have to walk past Christ and his truth and beauty. I want to make the choice for them as difficult as I can. I think that is part of what discipleship is. Making the choice more difficult. Not by wise or persuasive words, but by showing them Christ, the majesty and the glory. Not by just telling them how to live the Christian life, but why. Because Christ is worth it.


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