Discipleship according to Jesus

It is the day after Christmas. The gifts have been opened and the kids are playing with them. The final days of the year are winding down. We begin to think about the New Year, making our resolutions and planning out all that we want to accomplish over the next 52 weeks. While meditating on Mark 6, I saw a clear connection between making my New Year plans and including making disciples the way that Jesus did during His lifetime. Here is a quick list of the lessons that we have already covered from the Gospel of Mark.

  1. Jesus: Experiencing His Life and Ministry
  2. Jesus the Rescuing Teacher
  3. The unpardonable sin
  4. The parable of the sower and the seed
  5. Failing Faith needs a Faithful Friend
  6. Jesus serves individuals

In our last lesson, we learned that Jesus had huge crowds following Him, yet, He understood that the crowds were formed of individuals. You never get lost in the crowd when you look to Jesus. He focuses on the individual, even though He has the world in mind. As disciple-makers, we need to remember that our focus should be on individuals and not just getting the crowds to come. It is difficult because our society equates large crowds with success. Jesus had the crowds but focused on a few disciples to train and equip for future ministry. This lesson will focus on Mark 6.

I. Jesus teaches theory and practice

We learned in the very first chapter of Mark that Jesus’ mission was to proclaim the message of the Gospel.

  • the time is now
  • the kingdom of heaven is available
  • repent
  • believe
  • forgiveness/release
  • peace
  • follow Jesus
  • learn to make disciples

Every time Jesus encountered people, this is the message that He shared. His disciples were with Him learning from Him. The received the theoretical teaching and they saw how practical Jesus’ teaching was. They were learning the message, understanding the message, applying the message, and receiving training in how to minister to others. In Mark 6, Jesus and His disciples find themselves in Jesus’ hometown. On the Sabbath, Jesus takes them to the synagogue and He begins to teach the Scriptures. The idea of teaching in the Greek language is the entire process of learning. The theory learned is not just information to fill one’s head so that he or she can regurgitate it on a test. Theory is to be learned and understood, including the practical implications of that information in daily life. The people in the synagogue were blown away by what Jesus was teaching. The disciples had witnessed this same reaction when Jesus taught what we know as “The Sermon on the Mount” found in Matthew 5-7. They recognized the wisdom of Christ, that He taught differently than most of their spiritual leaders. In the Sermon on the Mount, the people said that Jesus taught with authority. Here they say wisdom. The truth is the same; what Jesus taught was practical. It pierced the hearts of the hearers. People had different reactions to what Jesus taught. Let’s take a look at the different reactions. The reactions are the same today, when God’s Word is taught properly and explained as is.

II. People’s different responses to Jesus

The people in the synagogue were pierced to the heart by the message, but, because they could not protest the message, they looked for reasons to attack the messenger. In other words, they took offense to what Jesus was teaching but they could not attack the teaching because Jesus taught the Word of God in the synagogue. The other alternative was to attack the messenger. This is exactly what they did. They attacked Jesus’ family history. The people did not trust Jesus because they did not want to believe the message of the Gospel. They effectively shut down His ability to minister in His hometown. Jesus wanted to heal and teach but was not really able to do it. Jesus left His hometown and taught in the surrounding villages. Those people were blessed with the message of the Gospel because they wanted to believe.

King Herod (not the same Herod of Matthew 2) also heard of the ministry of the Gospel and his response was fear because he was afraid that his evil deeds were going to be exposed. The people under king Herod’s rule respected Jesus as a teacher but not as God the Son. They were impressed by His teaching ability and the miracles that He performed but they were not ready to follow Him as Lord.

The disciples were also amazed at Jesus’ teaching. They believed in Him as God the Son. They had repented and chosen to follow Him moment by moment, day by day. Their lives were being transformed. These guys even had moments of hardened hearts. The teaching that Jesus gave before feeding the 5,000 did not impact them the way that it should have impacted them. When they later saw Jesus walking on the water, their fear defeated their faith and they were terrified of their Savior. Jesus forgave them and corrected them, as He had done before. Like all of us, the disciples still had a lot to learn. As disciples of Christ, we are always in the process of learning and applying what we learn. If we ever get to the place where we are not learning and applying what we learn, then we become like the people in the synagogue who attacked the messenger instead of bowing to the power and authority of the message of the Gospel.

III. Jesus gives a practical assignment

The disciples had been learning the theory and practice of ministry directly from Jesus Christ. It was now time to put that theory and practice into application on their own. Jesus called them together and then sent them out to minister just like He had been ministering. He gives them specific instructions and their main focus is to teach the people the message that they had been learning.

  • the time is now
  • the kingdom of heaven is available
  • repent
  • believe
  • forgiveness/release
  • peace
  • follow Jesus
  • learn to make disciples

The disciples went out to serve the people around them. When they found people who were open to the message of the Gospel, they were to stay in their home and teach them the exact way that Jesus had been teaching them. If people were not open to the message of the Gospel, the same way that the people in the synagogue were not open in Jesus’ hometown, then the disciples were not to waste their time. They were to move on and look for others who were open. This reminds me of the parable of the sower and the seed in Mark 4. Invest in the good soil, not the other three. When people hear the message of the Gospel and ask for further explanation, they want understanding. Give it to them and invest in them. Teach them. Help them learn how to follow Jesus and learn to make more disciples. The disciples went out and did just what Jesus had taught them to do. They came back and testified to Jesus what they had done and taught. They were learning to minister along side the Teacher because one day, He would not be there to do the teaching. They were the ones who were going to do the teaching, as Christ led them.

There is a neat pattern here. As we follow Jesus and learn from our teacher, we minister with our teacher. As we learn and grow, our teacher gives us more and more responsibility. Our focus is teaching the message of the Gospel to the people who want to listen and learn. As we grow, we become teachers/disciple-makers and the process repeats and continues. Has this pattern been played out in your life? This is the pattern that God has established. It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Unfortunately, many members in our modern churches have never experienced this pattern. Will you be one of the ones who changes the current pattern and begins to live out the pattern set forth in the Scriptures?

7 comments on “Discipleship according to Jesus

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