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Jesus’ Model of Discipleship

Fourth, the twelve were called to baptize their new converts in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus was baptized and his example provides contemporary believers with a mandate to do likewise. Water baptism is a public profession of faith in Christ as Lord. It was shown as a visible illustration of the transformation and commitment that occurred within.

Lastly, as the original Twelve were taught by their Rabbi, master, and Lord, so also they would be called to go and teach of their Lord’s commandments. Though not every disciple is called to become a teacher, all disciples are called to teach what they have learned. Arias comments on the importance of this command: “Obviously, the way [of making disciples] is through teaching, through what has historically been called catechesis and, more recently, Christian education.”[37] The Great Commission explains what it means to make disciples in the name of Jesus. New converts were not only brought into the kingdom, but they were also instructed in their new life in Christ. Carl Wilson summarizes, “The effectiveness is not only in numerical growth but in quality of life in disciples and effectiveness of leadership.”[38] Jill and Stuart Briscoe show that disciples are followers who have been called out and set apart; they, in turn, help in setting apart the church.[39]



Though not every disciple is called to become a teacher, all disciples are called to teach what they have learned.

The majority of Jesus’ ministry was given to discipleship. First, he called his twelve apostles to leave everything and follow him. Although the idea of following a master or teacher was not a new concept in the surrounding Greco-Roman and Jewish cultures, Jesus’ discipleship model exemplified unique elements to the way he discipled the twelve. For example, prior to calling his disciples Jesus was water baptized and anointed to preach the kingdom. Later, Jesus would also command his disciples to do the same. Jesus also commanded his disciples to fulfill the greatest commandment—love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Jesus taught his disciples that there was only one God to worship, love, and obey. Secondly, Jesus established intimate relationships with his disciples and began to teach them about the kingdom. Later he would command them to also go out into all the nations to preach that the kingdom of God is near. Third, the last words of Jesus to his disciples provided clear instructions for them in the Great Commission passages. They were to go, baptize, and make disciples of all peoples. In these same ways, the Great Commission was a blueprint for Jesus’ model of discipleship. Jesus’ command equips the church with a foundational approach to go out into every person’s world as a disciple and to make disciples of Christ. A relationship with Christ is made complete in the discipleship of his followers. Dietrich Bonhoeffer so aptly voices, “Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.”[40]


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Category: Biblical Studies

About the Author: Alyssa Lillo is a student at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, majoring in Ministry and Leadership with Local Church Pastor as well as Evangelism and Outreach concentrations. After graduation she plans to work with a Christian non-profit (church or organization) to bring the light of God through outreach and discipleship to all she encounters.

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