Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Mt. 28:18-20
What does joining God’s Story entail? First you become Jesus’ disciple, and then you make more disciples. This is what Jesus described in his Great Commission (Mt. 28:18-20) to the first disciples.
In Mk. 2:13-17, Jesus calls Levi to become his disciple. Levi worked in the tax collector’s office in Capernaum. Capernaum was a town on the Sea of Galilee and was Jesus’ headquarters for ministry. One day when Jesus was walking by the tax collector’s office, he commanded Levi to follow him. Levi knew exactly what was at stake, got up, and became Christ’s disciple. It seems from this story that Jesus and Levi had seen each other before. Levi may have observed Jesus’ miracles, heard his teaching, or seen him expel demons. Maybe they had talked.
The words follow me indicate following as a disciple (the Greek verb form is in the present continuous tense). Levi heard it this way, “Follow me and keep following me.” This implied a relationship of learning from Jesus, and joining his ministry’s team of disciples.
Follow me implies, “walk with me, and go where I go; find out what I’m doing and do it with me; obey my teachings and become like me.” Jesus gave the command and Levi obeyed. Jesus invited Levi; now he is inviting you. Will you join him?
There are those on your campus today who will intellectually agree that Jesus is a great man, or made a great contribution to the world. They may even agree in principle with the gospel message. Being a disciple of Jesus takes more than intellectual agreement with the gospel message, or that Jesus is a great man. Being a disciple means joining your life to the resurrected Jesus who is King of all. It takes committing your entire life to obeying him as your master.
There are too many Christians who treat Christianity like a church potluck where they eat only the foods they like. They pick and choose from the bible what they want to believe and obey. They may want answered prayer, but not suffering and persecution. They may want forgiveness, but not a life of making Jesus known throughout the world.
If you follow Jesus, you are choosing to die to your self-will. This is what Jesus demands:
“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels,’” (Mk. 8:34-38).
He demands identification with his suffering and his work of atonement on the cross. He died for your sins, now you die to your self-will, and live for him. When you come to Jesus, you must want him more than you want anything else, and you must give him control over every aspect of your life. He is your Lord and master.
Discipleship Was Common in Jesus’ Day
In Jesus’ day, sons were trained in their father’s occupation. Joseph was a carpenter, so he taught Jesus the skill of carpentry. Boys would sit under the teaching of a local rabbi; they were that rabbi’s disciples; they learned his spiritual discipline. This form of father-son, teacher-pupil or craftsman-apprentice training was common in Christ’s day.
The same thing was true in the intellectual realm before Christ’s time. Socrates had discipled young students who wanted to learn his way of thinking. The apostle Paul, before he was converted, was a disciple of the Rabbi Gameliel, possibly the greatest rabbi of his day. It was a common everyday thing, and Jesus’ disciples knew what it meant to be a disciple. It meant being an apprentice, learning a skill, being trained, learning the discipline of their master and becoming like him. This is what Jesus called each of the first twelve to become. It’s what he calls you to become. Very importantly, he also wants you to invite others to be a disciple of Christ
Used by permission from Michael Mowry; Chi Alpha Director Central Washington University