Jesus is risen!
An angel tells the women to tell the disciples to go to Galilee to meet up with Jesus. And then, Jesus himself runs into the women and tells them the same thing – “Tell the guys to meet me in Galilee. It must be pretty important. Jesus must really want to talk to them.
They meet and as the now risen Christ, authenticated as the Anointed One of God, Jesus gathers them on a grassy hillside and says, “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: …as you go, make disciples…”
Has someone, who is a disciple of Jesus, made you a disciple? Or, to ask another way, “What have you been made into?”
I was just having a conversation with a disciple of Jesus about their upbringing in the church. He recalled being told to memorize certain articles of church doctrine and teaching: Creeds, Prayers, meanings. He was even “tested” by the entire congregation. “Did he know his stuff?”
Back then, we agreed, we made something. But it may not have been disciples. It was the “blender” method of making: open up the head, pour in information, stir it up with testing and intimidation, and out came a church member. Someone who knew what to believe, and was sometimes a disciple, but sometimes (and I would argue from my experience, most of the time) not.) There were and are no guarantees that what came out of the process was a disciple of Jesus.
Maybe it would help to take some time to decide what we mean by a disciple. I like Dallas Willard’s definition: A disciple is an apprentice of Jesus. I like the word apprentice. It is more than a student or follower. A “student” of Jesus may be how we got the “blender Christians” I mentioned above. A follower… well, anyone can follow someone else, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been authentically impacted by the one they follow. At one point Jesus noted how many followers had fallen away when it was no longer easy or popular.
But an apprentice… There’s a lot in that word. It implies learning knowledge, but it also implies a commitment to imitate and to master the craft. Seems like apprenticeships use to be more prevalent. We do have internships, practicums, and such, but in our hurry up world, they are often too short, not allowing someone time to truly imitate a master. A woodworker was sharing how he learned the intricacies of his craft after apprenticing for four years. That’s somewhere around 8,000 to 10,000 hours of learning (and the number of hours usually considered needed to become proficient at something)! No school or university can do that!
So back to the task given us by Jesus. Jesus spent three years with his disciples, and since they basically lived together, they had much more than the 10,000 hours of apprenticing under him. So now he says, “…as you go, make disciples.” In other words, “As you have apprenticed, make an apprentice of me who will live with me in a kingdom life.”
Ok, so that’s what we do, now how do we do it?
Glad you asked.
Jesus has that covered too. Before he died, he told them – and actually all he did was tell them what they already knew from the scriptures: “Love the Lord your God with all you have and all that you are; and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
The Great Commission; “as you go, make disciples,” fulfilled by the Great Commandment, “love God; love your neighbor.”
Be an apprentice of Jesus. Apprentice others by loving.
Pretty simple. Pretty hard. In those instructions from Jesus is the foundation, the source, the hope, the answer. From Jesus is life.
Now here comes the challenge for us moving forward:
We got work to do. Now, don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying there aren’t disciples out there or that we don’t have disciples at Messiah! But we do more by accident than intent.
To be a disciple is to be in relationship with our God and with one another – other disciples and those who are not yet disciples.
So here is the deal. Jesus wants you to be his disciple, his apprentice, an imitator of him, living out the Kingdom of God in your life. Do you want to be a disciple of Jesus (not a follower, not a student, but an apprentice)? Someone asked Dallas Willard why he was a disciple of Jesus and he replied, “Who else did you have in mind?” We all have been apprenticed someone (come on, even you self-starters, picker-uppers-by-your-own-boot-straps people learned that from someone!). You have someone better in mind to imitate than Jesus?
– Thinking you can be spiritual without being connected to Christ is like thinking you can sail a boat and get to your destination without a rudder or a compass.
– Coming to sing and snooze through a sermon won’t do it.
– Dropping your kids off for Sunday School won’t do it – for them or you.
– Reading a book about discipleship won’t do it.
– Gaining more knowledge about what’s in the Bible won’t do it.
It’s about imitating someone who is imitation someone who is imitating someone… who are all imitating Jesus.
Be watching! Be anticipating! Soon we will launch Life Groups from Messiah. These will be groups framed by a desire to help you be and make apprentices of Jesus, who live as if Jesus’ words are true – that the reign of God, the Kingdom of God, the promises and reality of God are real and here, right now, for the taking and experiencing. The Kingdom of God is here! Turn your life toward the King and live in the Good News!