"The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves. Don’t take any money with you, nor a traveler’s bag, nor an extra pair of sandals. And don’t stop to greet anyone on the road." - Luke 10:1-4
When we find ourselves looking for a practical model of discipleship, we need not look any further than Jesus Christ Himself. Christ was, and is, a walking model to all of us and His playbook is in the gospel. With infinite power and wisdom beyond our comprehension, and without limit or obstruction, Christ chose to use man in His master plan. Without any need for help, He chose to employ and commission His treasured yet broken creation to accomplish the purpose and will of the Father.
As we peruse through the gospels, we find few environments where Christ was alone without the disciples. One of those examples was for prayer (Luke 5:16), but when it came to doing the will of the Father, Christ most always made sure the disciples were with Him.
- In Matthew 4:19, Christ invited the disciples to go where he is going … "Jesus called out to them, ‘Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!’"
- In John 11:7-8, Jesus invites the disciples to follow Him back into a potential hotspot… “‘Finally’, he said to his disciples, ‘Let’s go back to Judea.’ But his disciples objected. ‘Rabbi,’ they said, ‘only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?’”
- In Mark 5:35-39, Jesus invites Peter, James and John into the home of a dead girl who He raises in their presence… "While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, ‘Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.’ But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.’ Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. He went inside and asked, ‘Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.’”
From the above examples, and many more not listed, it becomes clear that Christ followed through with His invitation for the disciples to follow Him into experiential discipleship. When it came to the art of preparing the disciples to fulfill Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus was perfect in their preparation. When we step back and look at the gospels from a 100,000 ft. view it becomes obvious that the disciples were experiencing discipleship rather than simply hearing about it. Christ’s method for discipleship involved the disciples being with Him for the entirety of His ministry years.
If Christ’s model of ministry for the disciples was through experience and time together, then how are we discipling others according to His model? With this question it is my hope that we begin percolating our cranial juices of self-reflection as to how we may become more like Christ in the arena of experiential discipleship. Are we going through life alone and forgetting to ask a few simple questions that may help us begin to invite others into a Christ modeled experiential journey? Let’s look at a few simple questions that could help us begin making a “Shift” towards Christ’ model of discipleship.
- Why am I going alone?
- How can I shrink my excuses that justify going alone?
- Is this an environment where Christ was alone or with the disciples?
- Who is available to go with me?
- How far am I willing to go to make sure I am with someone?
Jesus sends us out with a model and playbook for discipleship and it is not intended for any of us to go out and do it alone. There are going to be plenty of reasons for us to not take the time to bring someone on the discipleship journey with us, but are we willing to find the one excuse that does include others in what we are doing? Christ displayed every reason to bring the disciples along… will we? Wherever we plan on going today let’s go together…remember John 11:7 “Let us go back to Judea.”