Dear Friends,

In the passage above we see three important questions: Who do men (others) say Jesus is? Who do you say that He is? Who does God say that He is, i.e., through a revelation from the Father through the Scriptures? We must not let what others wrongly say about Jesus and/or wrongly model about Jesus influence our view of Christ. This is part six in this series (see Reflectionsministries.org for the previous letters) and our purpose for looking at the life of Jesus is so that we may be changed more and more into His likeness. (See 2 Corinthians 3:18) This month we will look at Jesus as the disciple maker.

"Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve–designating them apostles (“sent ones’) — that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach." "One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him (there were many disciples, not just the twelve) and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: –“Then He said to them, –“Follow Me, and I will make youfishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” (Mark 3:13-14; Luke 6:12-13; Matthew 4:19-20) God’s priority is people, not fish, or business, or sports, or, you name it. –“Follow Me” means to follow Jesus’ example of how He related to the Father (e.g., prayer, knowing God’s Word and humble obedience) and how He related to people — He served their true needs, spiritual (salvation and growth), social and physical. Jesus is anti status-quo. He is the ultimate change agent. So when He says –“Follow Me” it also means –“continue to change” and be conformed to Christ-likeness.

Becoming like Christ will mean an entire change of the way we viewed life before we were Christians. It is as radical as a championship golfer who has learned and put into practice all the fine points of great golfing, who suddenly becomes a football player, having to learn a whole new game. And if he is to become proficient at it he will have to study the basics, be coached by someone who, through experience, knows the game, then practice, practice, practice by playing the game. We must let Jesus coach and teach us, do what He says and learn the skill of living life to the glory of God.

Jesus chose a few men and spent much time with them (–“that they might be with Him”) so they could catch His vision for the kingdom and then reproduce his life and ministry in others who could then pass it on to the next group as we see in Paul and Timothy’s relationship. "And the things you (Timothy) have heard me (Paul) say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." (2 Timothy 2:2) Thus the demonstrated faith of Paul continues for four generations: 1) Paul, 2) Timothy, 3) reliable men and 4) others. Christianity is always just one generation away from extinction.

Making disciples, making fellow fishers of men, cannot be done en masse. Like Jesus we must invest our lives in Christ deeply into a few people. One-on-one and small group discipleship is what our Lord modeled to us. He ministered to the crowds but He discipled the twelve and His true disciples. (See John 6:66) –“We can only change the world through changed men. And we cannot mass-produce changed men”. (Robert Coleman – The Master Plan of Evangelism) It takes a lot of time with a person to transfer our faith to them. They must see it in action not just in church. Timothy saw Paul’s faith lived out in day to day life as he was –“with him”. Here Paul speaks to Timothy: "You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings–what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it," (2 Timothy 3:10-14) Likewise we must spend a lot of time with Jesus (as Jesus did with the Father) and the –“Pauls” in our life in order to catch the vision for the kingdom of God. –“ Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. Think about how their lives turned out, and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7; Also see Luke 10:38-42)

What kind of people did Jesus call to be His disciples? It was not men with religious, social or economic status or men with better culture or learning. Jesus looked for (and still does today) two primary qualities in people: –“a sincere yearning for God and a teachable spirit.” (Coleman) I call them H.O.T.F.A.T men — hungry, open, transparent, faithful, available and teachable. He also chose a team of different kinds of people (unity in diversity is a reflection of the Trinity) with different personalities, spiritual gifts and backgrounds — for example, Matthew the tax collector — a traitor in the eyes of most Jews, and Simon the Zealot, who wanted to overthrow the Romans with force. Can you imagine two people any more different? "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." (1 Corinthians 12:4-7)

–“Leaving our nets” may mean we actually leave our business as God calls some to do that, but it certainly means that we forsake the sin of preoccupation with this world and our selfish pursuits and become fishers of men. "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." (Colossians 3:1-4) Thus, people who are the most heavenly minded are the most earthly good for the cause of Christ — fishing for men and making disciples.

–“ Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, –“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Luke 14: 25-35)

Until He comes,

Len and Kristen

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