The Outward Call of the Disciples

Jesus did not call the disciples into an inward life with Him. He could have easily set-up his ministry headquarters in Nazareth and spent 3-years training his disciples in a classroom. He could have avoided the large crowds and the confrontations with the religious leaders. We might think He could have had a learning environment that would have been more conducive to these twelve men developing a theological understand of God, His plan of salvation and the role of the church in proclaiming the Gospel.

But Jesus instead called them to follow Him in His everyday life as he pursued the mission the Father had given Him. They lived with Jesus, served with Jesus and even shared in ministry with Him. In Mark 3:13-14 it says that Jesus “went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach.”

When Jesus called these men to follow me it was not a passive invite. They weren’t being invited to stand around and watch Jesus teach and perform miracles. They were also called into the mission of Christ — to go and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Verse 14 says he “sent them out”.

They were being given on-the-job training not only because we often learn best by doing but it was reinforcing what these disciples were being called to do. His invitation to them in Matthew 4:19 was that they were going to be doing something active–making fishers of men. They were not just going to be passively learning from Jesus. This learning would in turn lead them into an action as they learned what it means to be fishers of men. If Jesus was going to teach them to fish for fish, he would take them fishing. If he was teaching them to fish for people for the sake of the Gospel, he would teach how to make disciples.

Too many times a new believer comes to know Christ and we send them “in”. We model for them a passive response to following Christ. We teach them to be intellectual leaners without the sense they are being prepared to go and do anything.

One of friends recently went to a country whose government has not been friendly toward Christianity but where churches are still allowed to exists.. And one of the things he observed was new believers in these churches were actively sharing the Gospel. It was something everyone was doing. And the reason he discovered was when people became Christians they were immediately encouraged to enter into the mission of Christ. A new believer now understand that they were being sent.

Too often we forgot what we have been called into, we simply focus on the vertical relationship with Christ. And as verse 14 tells us that relationship with Christ is the founation of what we have been called into. Verse 14 says he appointed them to “be with him”. The heart of discipleship is pursuing Jesus. But that pursuit doesn’t then leave us facing inward toward other Christians. The pursuit of Jesus then send us out to proclaim what we have seen and heard from him. To be with Jesus is to then be with Him in His mission.

As we have the privilege of seeing new believers come to know Christ, may we help them become rooted in the truth of Christ so that they will then “go out” to proclaim the truth of Christ. Do you have new or young believers in your life that you are actively doing ministry with oustide the church? Are you showing others how to be engaged in your neighborhood and community? Are you showing them that the ministry and mission of Christ takes us outward as we follow Him? As we invite people into a relationship with Christ may we also be inviting people to follow Christ into his outward mission of making disciples.