(Part 3 – EM For download all “Discipleship Articles” – David)
The work of Jesus Christ on earth included training disciples to carry on His work. In fact, it can be argued that the training of the twelve was one of His most important tasks while on earth. What would have happened had Jesus died, been buried, and risen from the grave but not had anyone to witness the resurrection and spread the Good News of the salvation He offered? Who would have preached on the Day of Pentecost had Jesus not trained those 12 disciples? Who would have led the new church in Jerusalem had Jesus not trained those men? In fact, would there even have been a church at all had the continuing work of the disciples not been preceded by three long years of training?
Jesus, the night before His crucifixion, prayed: “I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17:4). In this prayer, He spent much time praying for His disciples. Based on the context, it may be argued that “the work which Thou gavest Me to do” could apply to the finished work of training His 12 disciples. The last thing for Christ to do now with His disciples before ascending into Heaven was to give them the Great Commission. “Go ye…preach the Gospel…make disciples…of all nations.” Jesus Christ deliberately discipled these 12 men for three years because the future of His message, His church, and His kingdom depended on dedicated and trained men who would spread that message around the world as He, through them, would build His church and establish His kingdom. The 12 disciples knew what Jesus meant when He said to go make disciples because He had just spent three years making disciples of them! They saw Him do it firsthand. They were the products of long-term discipleship. (There are no shortcuts to Biblical Discipleship if Biblical Disciples are to be expected.)
Yes, Jesus Christ deliberately discipled! His work of training these 12 men was done with a purpose, ON PURPOSE. It was no accident that Jesus chose 12 and focused three years of His life and ministry on them. Yes, three years. Discipleship is a long term process, not a 12-week fill-in-the-blank course. Before He went to the cross and to the cave, Jesus spent three years deliberately discipling future leaders for the expansion of His church and His kingdom. It took Jesus three years to train these men for the work ahead. How much time do you spend preparing men for the work ahead of them? “Go ye and make disciples of them!”
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