Having studied numerous books on discipleship, mentoring and spiritual growth, I’ve come to believe, that authentic discipleship is best learned from the greatest teacher. If one truly desires to become an authentic follower of Christ and obey His command to go make disciples, then I submit we should look to the “I’s” of His ministry, that we might learn directly from His life-example.
Now as I begin, allow me to preface by stating, that my intention is not to compile an exhaustive list, rather it’s to keep it simple, direct and easy for us to remember… The “I’s” of Jesus’ Ministry.
First of all: He Initiated
In reading the gospel of John chapter four, we find the story of Jesus and the woman of Samaria. In studying the cultural times during Jesus’ ministry, the Jewish people avoided those who were from Samaria like they had the plague. Point-in-fact, Jews traveling between Judea and Galilee would travel many miles east crossing over the Jordan river to avoid traveling through Samaria. But not Jesus!
It’s been often said, “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” I kinda think it might have been one of the disciples who first coined the phrase… only in Greek. Because that’s precisely what Jesus did when he left Judea and headed towards Galilee. He took the straight path into the heartland of Samaria.
In John Chapter four, we discover Jesus’ initiating the conversation with the woman at the well. It was culturally forbidden for a Jewish Rabbi to have a conversation with a woman in public. Not to mention the fact, she was a Samaritan woman. But that didn’t hinder Christ from His divine appointment in meeting a lost soul who desperately needed the truth of God’s Word. Going against the cultural norm, the grain of societies prejudices never hindered Jesus from initiating.
Secondly: He Invested
Through the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, one can only determine having studied collectively the ministry of Christ, that He invested into the lives of those committed to following Him, relentlessly. For over three years, twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week, He poured Himself into those who were passionately committed to follow Him.
The life of Christ teaches us by His example that we too, must be committed to invest ourselves into the lives of others, through our prayers, our time and our serving.
Thirdly: He Interceded
In reading John chapter 17, we discover Christ in the garden of Gethsemane praying to the Father, what today we refer to as the high priestly prayer. There in the darkest hours, minutes before He was to be betrayed and arrested, Jesus poured out His heart to the Father, focusing His deepest desires for His disciples.
Christ’s example of intercessory prayer is paramount to our following in His footsteps. Part of our loving one another demands of us to pray for one another. Our prayers to the Father through Christ Jesus are testimony to our faith in Christ and our love for others.
We also can learn a tremendous lesson from what transpired just after Jesus’ prayed that night in the garden. For as Judas approached and Jesus was surrounded by the guards, Peter in his over-zealous spirit drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.
Such an action most assuredly would have resulted in Peter’s arrest and potentially a most severe punishment. And yet, what did Jesus do? He interceded on Peter’s behalf. Jesus wasn’t silent or submissive in allowing His disciple to be arrested or attacked. Sure, Jesus performed a miracle in restoring the man’s lopped off ear… but, I can bet you that Peter also felt the Lord performed a second miracle that night in protecting him from the Roman guards and Jewish leaders.
Two profound Christ-life examples for us to learn from… and as they literally transpired within moments of each other, we are exhorted by the actions of Jesus to offer intercessory prayers, while being willing to physically intercede in the lives of those who are in Christ.
Although simplistic as these three actionable words might be to memorize, I believe it will take the rest of our lives and our total dependence upon the Lord Christ Jesus for strength to carry out. May it be so Lord… may it be so!