Most Christians are familiar with the Great Commission. We know that it was Jesus’ parting statement of assignment, His last words of instruction to all of His followers.
Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)
Jesus’ parting command was to “make disciples.”
But let’s answer an important question: What is a disciple?
In Biblical times, Jewish rabbis, Pharisees (see Matthew 22:15-16), John the Baptist (see Matthew 9:14), Gentile scholars and philosophers all operated on a similar model of teaching by disciple-making.
Disciples were taught in two different levels:
- The teacher spoke to crowds and the disciples listened.
- The teacher chose a small group of followers—disciples—who were with him all the time.
These disciples repeatedly heard the teaching to large crowds and thus mastered the content of their teaching. However, in their personal times together with the teacher, they could ask questions and probe deeply into the teaching. In addition, they were to adopt the teacher’s lifestyle. It was an education and, also, a life transformation.
“The process of identification with the teacher was so radical that people could tell which disciples went with which teachers by their mannerisms and patterns of speech. A disciple literally became a mirror of a teacher. They represented and reflected their teacher.”1
A fully-trained disciple could repeat the process with a new group of students and “make disciples.”
Mark Alan Williams tells this story:
When I was preparing for ministry, I was privileged to spend a year as an “intern” with speaker and author Josh McDowell. I went with him to secular college campuses around the USA and listened to his messages repeatedly. By the end of the year, I could quote most of them verbatim. In addition, along with another intern, I spent personal time with Josh learning about ministry, both through his personal teaching and in questions and answers. It was a transforming experience. In some ways, I became a “mirror” of Josh. I not only became a “disciple” of Josh McDowell but, more importantly, a disciple of Jesus.
What is our goal in making disciples? We are to help people learn the content of His teaching, which means the entire Bible, but, more importantly, we are to help them to spend so much time with Him that they become like Him.
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” (Romans 8:29 ESV)
Disciples of Jesus should think as He thinks, love what He loves, hate what He hates and do His works.
In short: A disciple is a person conformed in every way to the image of Christ.
That is the goal of the DJJ discipleship process. We are providing 52 lessons to take someone through steps to maturity in Christ.
To sample our materials, please go to our Resource Page.
1 International Mission Board. “Lesson 1: The Central Command of the Great Commission.” Imb.org. https://www.imb.org/topic/explore-missions/being-a-disciple/lesson-1-the-central-command-of-the-great-commission/ (accessed August 17, 2017).