Jesus Calls His Disciples

Title: Jesus Calls His Disciples


Text: Matthew 10:1

Date: February 15th, 2009

The great mission of the Christian church is to make disciples of all people, according to Matthew 28:18-20, “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 the 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.’” Christianity’s central mission is to make followers or disciples of Jesus. It isn’t to build large church buildings necessarily, or establish record attendance or financial giving figures necessarily, or to mobilize voters for elections necessarily, but it is to train more and more people in faith and obedience to God. The church has gotten off track in many ways in respect to its primary purpose in recent years, but maybe things will work to bring the church back in line with the great mission it has been assigned. More and more Christians are beginning to question the direction of the church in these secondary matters, and they are beginning to call the church back to its main priority – making disciples of Jesus Christ. But before there was a commission from Jesus to make disciples, there was a calling of the original twelve disciples. We find this original call to discipleship in Matthew 10:1, “He (Jesus) called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” Jesus didn’t operate alone in his calling and mission on earth because he recruited disciples to be with him, follow behind him and even do ministry alongside of him. Now Jesus could have worked alone. After all, nobody could do the things Jesus did, the miracles of exorcisms, the miracles of healings, the natural miracles involving the basic elements of nature such as earth, wind and sky. He also did miracles such as raising the dead, as in the case of Lazarus. So Jesus could have worked alone as a virtual one-man miracle machine, but he didn’t. Why not? Because he wanted to train a band of believers who could carry on his ministry when he had departed. And that’s exactly what he did – he recruited a group of followers or disciples, he trained them in ministry, and then when he rose from the dead and ascended back into heaven he left these disciples to carry out and carry on the ministry he started on earth. And they did in fact carry out and carry on the ministry of Jesus – not as skillfully and thoroughly as Jesus himself, of course – but they did carry out the ministry of Jesus in the years ahead. Then, just as they had seen their Master do, they recruited and trained other believers to be disciples in order to train them in the ministry and leave them to carry out the ministry when they were dead and gone. And so the Christian church and faith has been kept alive and active for over 2000 years through this same process. Will this discipleship process continue in the future? We assume so, but there is no guarantee. As one person put it, “The Christian faith is only one generation away from extinction.” It’s a testimony to the fact that Christianity is a supernatural faith because if it weren’t it would have long ago died out. But the fact that disciples are still being made 2000 years after the first Christian disciples were recruited proves that God must be in it. Today, I’d like to look at Jesus recruiting his first disciples. Hopefully, we can gain insight into the process of disciple-making by reviewing this scene.

First, Jesus called his disciples to be with him. Matthew 10:1, “He called his twelve disciples to him. . . .” The first thing Jesus does in calling a disciple is to call a person to be with him. It isn’t first about the task or work, it’s first about a personal relationship with Jesus. This is where a lot of people miss the mark in respect to the Christian faith. They think that Christianity is about first obeying or doing God’s will, but the problem with that approach to Christianity is that it’s impossible for anyone to perfectly obey or do God’s will. So if fellowship with Jesus is based on obedience, then we are all doomed to forever remain outside of Jesus’ circle of friendship because we simply cannot meet the requirement of perfect obedience to the will of God. Yet if we were to take a survey of most people in most Christian churches – not to mention people in the general culture – we’d find that most people are under the impression that Christianity is based on acceptance by God because of our obedience to his law. The truth is, fellowship with God is based on grace alone through faith alone, not based on of our obedience to the will of God. Obeying God is important and doing the will of God is expected, but not as a prerequisite to fellowship with God. If it were so, nobody would have a relationship with God because nobody is perfectly obedient to God. So Jesus calls his first disciples, as well as all disciples later on, including us, first to simply be with him in a personal relationship. It isn’t about doing, it’s about being. That same order applies to us today. Christ first calls us to himself. He wants us to repent of our sins and place our absolute trust in him and be willing to simply be with him in life. It sounds simple but it actually requires that we humble ourselves and give up controlling our own destiny in life – as if we actually could control our own destiny in life! It requires that we give up the illusion of control in life and submit to the control of another, namely God. The first step in becoming a disciple of Jesus is to simply make ourselves available to Jesus. We must be willing to give up our time, energy and resources to be with Jesus. That means we must let go of our own personal plans in life, or in other words, we must be willing to depart from our own agenda we form for ourselves and present ourselves available to Jesus. We confess our sins, repent of them, set aside our own selfish plans, clear our schedules of anything and everything that might interfere with our friendship with Christ, and then open ourselves up to the new life God wants to give us in Jesus. Have you done that? Have you presented yourself to Christ with no strings attached? That’s the first thing he calls his disciples to – simply to be with him with a clear agenda. Have you done that yet? If not, are you willing to do so today, right now? That’s the first step in becoming a disciple of Jesus. It was with the original disciples, it is for disciples he’s calling today.

Second, he called his disciples to follow after him. Matthew 10:1, “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits. . . .” Now after he called the twelve disciples to be with him, to have fellowship with him, to become friends with him, he then called them to follow him – or in other words, to tag along with him and watch what he was doing. I guarantee you that Jesus didn’t recruit twelve ordinary men and then instantly tell them to go out and cast out demons and heal the sick. No. They had to arrive at the place where they understood what Jesus was doing and how he did it. So the next step after friendship was to demonstrate to his disciples what his ministry was all about. He had to show them what ministry was and how it was conducted. I mentioned before that the church has gotten off the mark of its original ministry calling, but I didn’t explain how or why. Well, one of the big reasons why so many churches and church leaders are pursuing different agendas rather than the original great commission of making disciples is that these churches and church leaders don’t know what ministry really is all about. For example, some church leaders and pastors think that ministry is basically social activism. Taking the model of Martin Luther King, many pastors think that unless they are agitating for social change or governmental change they aren’t doing ministry. Other church leaders are following a business agenda for Christianity. For these leaders bigger numbers and better church facilities are the signs of success and achievement; they think that ministry is basically expanding the church organization in the same way a corporation might multiply a franchise organization. These are just two examples of the church and church leaders missing the mark of making disciples and pursuing the wrong ministry agenda. It’s easy to do in a world of endless earthly possibilities. But Jesus wanted his disciples to follow after him and watch him and formulate an understanding of ministry based on their observations of Jesus, not just their own guesses or intuitions about it. For us as disciples today, we are called first to be with Jesus, and for us today, that means learning to fellowship with God through prayer and the Word of God typically. Do you spend daily time in prayer and the Word of God, the Bible? That’s fellowship with God. That’s first. But also, Jesus calls us to watch and learn from him how to help and minister to people. And watch and learn from other mature disciples of Jesus today. We have, for example, the model of ministry through Mother Theresa. She modeled the love of Christ for the sick and dying. We have other models in the Christian faith as well. Being a disciple of Jesus requires being with Jesus, fellowshipping with him and relating to him, but then also following after his example. It requires learning how to follow the path Jesus walks. Are you learning and growing in learning what it means to be a disciple?

Third, he called his disciples to carry out and carry on his ministry. Matthew 10:1, “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” Here is the point where we run into failure in the Christian life and ministry. The original twelve disciples where called to be with Jesus, called to follow after Jesus, and also called to carry out and carry on the ministry of Jesus. The Bible records that the disciples did in fact carry out the ministry of exorcism or casting out demons, and also they healed the sick, even raising the dead on some occasions. But unfortunately, the Bible also records that they failed in their ministry. Matthew 17:14-16 records, “When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. ‘Lord, have mercy on my son,’ he said. ‘He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.’” So here is a record of the disciples not being able to fulfill their ministry commission Jesus sent them out to do. Here is an example of discipleship failure. Failure. It’s a reality in the Christian life, in the life of following Jesus, in ministry. Failure. It happens, there’s no denying it. But it comforts me to know that the original twelve disciples, the very ones that Jesus recruited, trained and sent out to do ministry, failed in their assignment. That gives hope for the rest of us. That gives us encouragement when we fail in the Christian life in some way. It could be that you fail to resist temptation and you fall into sin. It could be that you fail to fellowship spiritually with God daily in prayer and Bible reading. It could be that you fail to obey the will of God in all areas of your life, or you fail to love as Christ loved, or you act selfish and sinfully at times in life. Maybe your pride controls you or you give way to hate or anger. Maybe you are a bad example of a Christian to others at times. It could be you are a minister or pastor or church leader or role model who doesn’t practice what you preach. The reality of failure is present in every Christian’s life. Jesus realizes that every disciple will fail at some points in his or her Christian life or ministry. That’s why the first part – being with Jesus – is most important and is the #1 priority in life. We need to be able to return to Jesus in confession and repentance and be restored to fellowship with God after we fail. Then, we can get back up and back out there and try again and learn from our mistakes and failures. When you fail in the Christian life, don’t deny it, don’t cover it up, and don’t try to ignore it. Deal with it. Go to God in prayer and pour out your heart and mind to him. Ask him for his forgiveness. Ask him for more power and ability and wisdom and knowledge. Don’t quit either. Discipleship is a high calling; it’s not easy. But we have Christ’s promise in the great commission of Matthew 28:20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Christ asks a lot out of his followers, but he promises to be with them all along the way. That’s great news!


4 Responses to “Jesus Calls His Disciples”

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  4. Shirley Whitney Says:

    Grandma has family lessons on following Jesus:

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