Jesus trains His Twelve as our perfect model for ministry.
How indescribably breathtaking He is!
Yet when we look at our practices, how many of us truly take Jesus as our model for both maturity and ministry?
Where would you go to discover how Jesus ministered in the 1st century so you could bring His wisdom forward to minister in your context? The four Gospels sketch out His three-tiered approach to “make & multiply disciples.”
Jesus left the glory of heaven and became a man…without ceasing to be God, oh mystery. And He brought with Him in His incarnation this same life He experienced with His Father and the Spirit from eternity past, interactive co-love and mutual care.
Jesus then invites His people into this same life, love and light He experienced in the greatest Small Group ever, the Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit. Jesus calls each of us to embrace Him fully in small, primary groups modeled after the Trinity. This was Jesus’ brilliant yet simple strategy to restore the world to intimacy with His Father. “Jesus focused on the few in small, primal groups to reach the many.” Have we been captured yet by Jesus’ vision?
I want to suggest some thoughts for your study,
using an illustration of backpacking in the European Alps. I first saw these insights in The Training of the Twelve by A.B. Bruce, popularized more recently by Bill Hull, and deepened as I dug into these through a Harmony of the Gospels.
Incredible beauty lies hidden in the remote accesses, only accessible to experienced backpackers. If I wanted to gaze on this stunning beauty firsthand, I must initiate certain discernible steps for my first backpacking experience, as on our spiritual journey. Since Jesus is the smartest man who ever lived, these insights on Jesus’ three-tiered ministry strategy provide us with a broad, flexible guideline to train as agile, creative disciples in the 21st century.
As His people, we are caught up with Him in His epic adventure to restore His lost world of people to intimacy with the Father. His people have the awesome privilege to partner with Him in His unchanging plan for the ages…before we fully understand. Our little stories now have eternal meaning because they are lived out within His Big Story. His unfinished mission defines our call together as faith-communities as individuals. It’s staggering that the same God who spoke the entire universe into existence desires to partner with us in this ministry of presence as one of His intimate allies.
In the words of the character John Keating in the 1989 movie Dead Men’s Society:
“Carpe Diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”
Into whom are you investing your life? Grow to become a three-directional DiscipleMaker. It doesn’t matter if this pathway is well defined in my mind, if it’s not in yours. So jot down what you see as the characteristics of each of the three tiers as you dive into the Gospels.
Tier 1: “Come & See” DRAW IN Disciples:
(John 1:35-4:54 + the “crowd”)
Tier 2: “Come & Follow Me” MAKE Disciples:
(Mk 1:16-3:12; Luke 4:14-6:12 +)
Tier 3: “Come & Be with Me” MULTIPLY Disciples:
(Mark 3:13-15; Lk 6:12 +)
Jesus’ intended end was for His followers to “Go & Multiply Disciples Together,” like Jesus did.
As the Father has sent me, I am sending you….Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:21-22; see also Matthew 28:19-20).
From the start, He began with this intended end as Jesus trained His twelve. For His worldwide crusade to win His prodigal world back to the Father’s heart, He needed women and men trained to go the distance. And our Commander-in-Chief still does today.
“[The tipping point] in all these instructions was that the mission of his disciples was not different in principle or method from his own. He began by giving them his own authority and power to do his work (Mark 6:7; Matt. 10:1; Luke 9:1), and he closed by assuring them that what they were doing was as though he was doing it himself”
(Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism).
Although the ministry this video recommends is only one I have glanced at, the concepts conveyed in this 4-minute video captures a large portion of what my heart is for DiscipleMaking like Jesus.