The word “disciple” was the way the New Testament referred to the follower of Jesus Christ. Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, telling them that He would take them through a process which would transform them (Mark 1:17). They were called disciples, because they were Jesus' pupils, students. How would their discipleship come about? How were they to learn? The gospel of Mark narrates that at the beginning of His ministry Jesus was devoted to preaching. Mark 1:14-15 reads
“Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."”
During the time of the writing of the New Testament, the preacher was a herald, one who proclaimed an assigned message. John the Baptist, Jesus and those who would fulfill the task of preaching had a message, the gospel, the good news. They preached with authority because they knew that the message was of utmost importance, that people must hear it and obey. The message of the fulfillment of God's plan, the coming of God's kingdom, and the necessary response of repentance and faith, demanded that they preach with gravity. It is was through their attention to Jesus' authoritative preaching that the disciples learned who Jesus was and how they were to humbly submit themselves to His Word.
The Lord Jesus Christ after spending much time in prayer explained His priority for preaching, saying
“that is what I came for” (Mark 1:38).
He took His disciples with Him so that they might hear the message, recognize the importance of the message and the significance of preaching and participate in this ministry as well (Mark 3:14). These disciples were given the opportunity to preach as well (Mark 6:12). He made it clear that,
“The gospel must first be preached to all the nations.” (Mark 13:10).
The gospel of Mark also tells us that Jesus' ministry of making disciples involved teaching. People recognized Jesus ministry and repeatedly called Him Teacher (Mark 4:38; 5:35; 9:38; 10:17, 20, 35; 12:14, 19, 32; 13:1; 14:14). In fact it was Jesus' teaching that amazed people because He taught as one having authority (Mark 1:21-22, 27). Throughout His earthly ministry people came to Jesus and He taught them (Mark 2:13; 4:1-2; 6:2, 6; 10:1). Jesus recognized that the people were like lost sheep, without a shepherd to lead them, feed them, protect them, and care for them. His compassion for the large crowd moved Him to teach them (Mark 6:34). The gospel narratives contain the written record of Jesus' teachings. Jesus Himself said,
“Every day I was with you in the temple teaching” (Mark 14:49).
Jesus committed Himself to preaching and teaching to make disciples. When He announces the Great Commission, Jesus describes the task of making disciples as involving the task of teaching disciples to observe all that He commanded them.
Overall, if we are to disciples of Jesus, then we must learn from being attentive to faithful preaching and teaching, and living in obedience to His Word. If we are to make disciples, we must devote ourselves to faithfully teaching God's Word to others. Are we devoting ourselves to studying the Scriptures out of a desire to grow in obedience as Christ's disciples? Are we prepared to make disciples of others by teaching others?
More Stir Up the Passion Articles