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And He saith unto them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
The Message Bible puts it this way:
Jesus said to them, “Come with Me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass. (Matthew 4:19)
In the last couple of days, I have been thinking a lot about the importance of discipleship. More specifically, it is the nature and process of discipleship as modeled through the life of Jesus that so intrigues me. For Jesus to have chosen His disciples must have required excellent observational skills (to pick a few from the crowd), knowledge of the culture, an open heart to the Father, and great trust in the plan that had been devised in heaven before time. To boldly call fishermen out, and challenge them to follow Him (above all others) is incredible, let alone to state with such confidence that He indeed had what it took, by the power of the Holy Spirit (given without measure) and the wisdom of the Father, to take common middle class business people and make them (through a relational process and teaching, both theological and practical) fishers of men. Incredible.
I think that much of what we see shortly after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost must have been the results of Jesus’ modeling, mentorship or discipleship, as described in Acts.
They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, according as any man had need. And day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved. (Acts 2:42-47 ASV)
Several important points can be made from this passage, but just a few will illustrate my point. First, we see a daily devotion to the teaching of the Word of God. Second, the teaching was done in community, a community of partners devoted to Christ, the apostles and one another. They shared meals, and no doubt the Eucharist was the center of their fellowship, worship, and prayer, which so moved and motivated them that the most important thing in life became their fellowship and the mission to which they were called. The results are obvious, turning the world upside down. Ah, such should be the results of our discipleship.
Of course, in our own small way, we are trying to do a similar task, in the power of the Spirit (in our measure), with godly wisdom (we hope); to teach men and women to go beyond themselves and into the calling of the Lord, and into a destiny that only the Lord knows, full of adventure and joy. God has given us a mandate that is beyond our ability to manage (the whole Word to the whole world) and tools (books, online learning systems, the Bible College in a Box™) and by His grace, all around the world, men and women are being discipled to Christ, to the glory of God.
It is such a joy to have a part in the Harvest of our time, and to participate in small measure in the Great Commission, motivated by the Great Commandment.