Throughout the New Testament gospels, Jesus walks his followers through several phases on their journey towards maturity. As we witness Him working in their lives in Scripture, we are able to see and recognize where He is leading us in our own walk with Him.
Studying these phases have helped me understand why I am the way I am and why I struggle with pursuing many spiritual disciplines. Read on to see if you can trace your ‘roots’ to some of these examples in Scripture!
Phase 1 is the “Spiritual Disciplines” phase.
In this phase, we can see a marked difference between Jews and Gentiles. Jewish boys at a very early age were sent to a synagogue where they studied under a Rabbi for years. This gave them a solid foundation in the following essential qualities we must develop in our own lives:
- Memorization of OT Scripture
- Scripture meditation
When these Jewish boys came to know Jesus, they had already developed and had history in scripture and many of these disciplines.
If you contrast this with us Gentiles….well, we are a little different. When the Apostle Paul was commissioned in his ministry to the Gentiles, he found no such discipline in their lives. Not one of them had memorized scripture or had any history of prayer and fasting. Imagine training up pastors with this background! If you are like me, I can certainly trace my difficulties in these disciplines back to my roots!
Phase 2 is the “Come and See” or “Follow Me” phase.
This phase is ultimately where salvation occurs
During this time, many of the apostles/disciples followed Jesus on a sporadic basis. It’s in this phase where we learn more of who Jesus is; what are His requirements for following Him? What are the benefits of being adopted in to His family?
The requirements are the most difficult simple tasks we can ever undertake. I am attempting to pursue some of the following with all the strength my weak self can muster. Though I get off regularly, I constantly re-align my heart to focus on these things1
- The 1st Commandment (and thus the 2nd Commandment). We can’t separate these 2 but the 1st comes in sequence.
- The Sermon on the Mount.
- The Great Commission (being a witness AND making disciples).
I appreciate that Jesus allows us to ‘test’ things out. He gives life to the fullest…and the journey is difficult but very worth it! 🙂
Phase 3 is the “Come and be with Me” phase
At this point in time in His earthly ministry, Jesus chooses 12 disciples (he had about 70 or so). Jesus begins to deal with them in greater detail regarding the Kingdom of God and changing their worldview from a Jewish nationalistic perspective to a Kingdom perspective.
A.B. Bruce writes in his book, The Training of the Twelve, “At the time of their call they (all 12 disciples) were exceedingly ignorant, narrow-minded, superstitious, full of Jewish prejudices, misconceptions, and animosities. They had much to learn and unlearn of what was bad as well as much to learn of what was good, and they were slow to learn and unlearn. Old beliefts already in possesion of their minds made the communication of new religious ideas a difficult task.”
I certainly see a lot of those characteristics in my own life!
Phase 4 is the “Remain in Me” or “Abide in Me” phase
This is a short phase that lasted from the Passover Feast to the Resurrection. Jesus prepares them for trials and the wildernes. John chapters 13-18:4 gives a good picture of this time. It includes the high priestly prayer of John 17 where Jesus prays for strength and that they “would love Me (Jesus) in the same quality You (the Father) love Me.”
Phase 5 is the “Marching Order” phase
This is the 40 day phase between His Resurrection and Ascension. Imagine the fire you would receive upon seeing a Man resurrected from the dead!
It is in this phase that Jesus gives them the Great Commission. This includes the 2-fold commandment to a) Be His witness, and b) Make disciples of all nations.
We receive power to do this from the Holy Spirit
There you have them – the 5 Discipling Phases of Jesus. Let me know your thoughts and questions!