There you are — leaving the hospital with your new baby. It's the baby you planned and prepared for. And now as you leave you realize, "There are no nurses to help out. What am I going to do?"
Peter and Andrew and James and John must have gone through similar emotions. They were gathered with the other disciples on a mountain in Galilee. Galilee was where Jesus first called them. They were at work trying to make a living and Jesus offered them a deal: "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." They left their nets and followed him.
So when he told them to meet him in Galilee they went. That's when Jesus gave them a command: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations ..." (Matthew 28:19).
My guess is everything felt different to them at that moment. They had been his disciples and now they were to make disciples. It was their job. It was their baby. They probably didn't think they could do what they did. And you probably don't think you can do what they did. But you can. If we could sit at dinner with the disciples they would give us a three-point sermon in how to make disciples.
Peter would start off by saying "be with Jesus." If they had learned anything from Jesus it was that the first thing he wanted them to do was to be with him. Mark, who we believe wrote down Peter's words, put it this way in his account:
"And he appointed twelve so that they might be with him ..." (Mark 3:14).
If Jesus had called them to go to seminary, they may have declined the appointment. They weren't that interested in splitting hairs over obscure scriptures. They didn't want to haggle over Haggai or debate over Daniel. They had seen what that kind of religion had done and they didn't want to be a part of it.
But be with Jesus? That was something they could do. They liked him. He made sense. He ate with them, walked with them, and told stories that ignited their imaginations. Jesus took the kingdom of God off the drawing boards and right into their lives. They watched him live it out, lived it with him.
You can too. As we experience his story we can see him healing the leper, hear him teaching in the synagogue, smell the salty Sea of Galilee and touch the hem of his garment. We can find ourselves in his story and know him like a friend.
We can do that. But what often keeps us from making disciples is the fear of not knowing enough. "I don't know if I know enough Bible. I don't know how to answer all those questions people might ask."
Guess what? Neither do I. And guess what? Neither did they. But they knew Jesus. In fact, In Acts 4 there is a story where Peter and John get in trouble because they have healed a lame beggar. The religious leaders don't take too kindly to them preaching Jesus and stealing their spotlight so they come and arrest them.
And here's what is said about them:
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13 ESV) [Emphasis added.].
Not that they had three degrees on their walls. Not that they were rabbinical school grads. What astonished them was that they had been with Jesus.
Be with Jesus. That's where we begin and that's how God will use you to create a movement. It's the foundation. But there's a little more connected to that.
Matthew knew Jesus loved to be with people. He made note of it in his gospel account:
Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples (Matthew 9:10-11 NASB).
Jesus was reclining with tax collectors and sinners. These weren't your usual church people. But they were Matthew's friends. And now that Matthew is with Jesus, Jesus is also with Matthew's friends.
The disciples didn't start putting together revivals and campaigns to make disciples. They just starting working with the people they already knew. They would bring their friends together around the idea of getting to know Jesus.
That's what happens when we are with Jesus. When we are with him, we will want to be with people because he loved people. It might be people in your family or your neighborhood or your workplace. Those people are your people. Jesus wants us to make disciples of them.
But how does that lead to making disciples?
John would answer that question by telling us to "tell a story." Towards the end of his gospel he writes the following:
Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name (John 20:30-31 NASB).
John wrote down signs, or stories, about Jesus so we can believe. Movements are created when people gather around an idea and share the story. And that's what the disciples did. They told story after story about Jesus.
Blake Mycoskie had a story to tell. In some ways it began when he and his sister competed in the second season of "The Amazing Race" on TV. They finished in third place, just four minutes off the first place time.
One leg of their race took them through Argentina. Because they were racing and did not have time to experience the culture, he returned later for a visit. When he did, he saw the hardships children faced growing up barefoot. Cuts on their feet led to serious infections. In addition, children without shoes were not allowed to go to school and did not receive an education. So Blake came up with an idea he called "One for One." He would sell shoes, and for every pair sold one pair would be given to a child without. You may know this as the story of TOMS shoes. By April of 2010 over 600,000 shoes had been given to children around the world.
Not only are shoes sold, but a story is told. One time Blake was in JFK airport and saw a girl wearing a red pair of TOMS shoes. He approached her and asked her about her shoes. He says she literally grabbed him by the shoulders and started telling him his story. He realized then TOMS did not need to follow the normal approach to marketing. They had a story to tell.
The first disciples were with Jesus, and when they were with people, they told a story. They started a movement that has reached us today.
We can do the same. We have to. There's no plan B. There's you. There's me. And in God's estimation, that's enough. So here's that plan to start a movement and change the world. It's really pretty simple:
- Be with Jesus.
- Be with friends.
- Be telling the story of Jesus.
Not very complex. Not very dramatic. Not very "churchy." But, VERY effective! And guess what? It's very much God's will, Jesus' plan, and our opportunity!