Jesus Calls the First Disciples
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
A different kind of rabbi and a different kind of disciple.
These are just two of the issues with which we're wrestling on Path of Renewal.
Jesus didn't surround himself with the brightest and the best when he gathered his disciples:
"Come, follow me" was a recognised summons to discipleship but the people to whom that summons was issued, by Jesus, were not the kind of folk normally invited into such a prestigious relationship.
It was an honour to be invited into discipleship, an honour that involved profound change as the disciple learned from and tried to imitate the teacher.
Most Rabbis were very prescriptive in their teaching, setting out the law simply and precisely so that their disciples would be in no danger of transgressing if they followed the very clear boundaries spelled out for them.
Jesus, however, though he taught the law simply, also left wiggle room - room for his disciples to work out how they could best fulfil the law - and how far they might go to do so. Rather than teach his disciples to do the least possible, Jesus encouraged them to do more. "Love one another" became an encouragement to practice selfless giving rather than simply doing no harm to your neighbour.
As we grapple with disciple making today, we are forced to examine our own discipleship: How are we imitating Jesus and what, in our lives, would we want others to imitate?
It is clear that, although the disciples whom Jesus called seemed a strange, eclectic mix, they had amazing success in discipling others. The growth rate from the twelve, along with the women who also accompanied Jesus is evident in the stories in Acts of the early church. Not only were people being saved, but leaders were stepping up to take on roles in kingdom work.
With the activity of the Holy Spirit, the number of believers grew beyond imagining and the task of discipling became all the more crucial.
It is daunting to consider ourselves as disciple makers. Often we can barely get past all that we would not want others to imitate. And yet Jesus called the least likely folk as his first disciples.
Today, we are called, equipped and empowered to go into all the world, in the power of the Holy Spirit to make disciples.
This is kingdom work that will involve changing the very culture of church as we know it. We cannot look to others to effect that change. It begins with us stepping into the role to which the Risen Christ commissioned us in the power of the Spirit, a role through which he promises to accompany us every step of the way.
A different kind of Rabbi and a different kind of disciple.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”