If you have it in your heart to become a disciple-a follower of Jesus, it might be a good thing to check out what kind of person Jesus seems to choose. The context of the world, when Jesus first selected his disciples, was driven by the religiously educated. A young Jewish kid grew up under the tutelage of the Rabbis. Each child was graded according to his progress. If the child showed promise, the teacher, the Rabbi, invited him to follow in his steps. If the child did not ‘make the grade’, he was not invited to additional education and therefore was sent back home to join the family business.The disciples Jesus chose were the Rabbinical rejects-the ones who were not smart enough or responsive enough to be chosen by any Rabbi. As you can imagine, those who were chosen, were highly regarded. And, those who were not chosen were viewed in a lesser social light in society. In other words, Jesus chose the Jr. Varsity players to launch the movement that would change the world.
We get an insight into the kind of people Jesus chose, when we listen in on a scene where Peter and John were being confronted publicly by the Jewish leadership. They had been involved in the healing of a lame man, who was known by nearly everyone. It caused such a stir that the religious leadership wanted to shut them up. Instead, they were confronted by two things that ended up shutting them up.
Let’s look at it. Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply. (Acts 4:13-14)
I also like this scene as expressed in The Message: They couldn’t take their eyes off them-Peter and John standing there so confident, so sure of themselves! Their fascination deepened when they realized these two were laymen with no training in Scripture or formal education. They recognized them as companions of Jesus, but with the man right before them, seeing him standing there so upright-so healed!-what could they say against that? (Acts 4:13-14)
Here’s what I take away from this encounter. Jesus chose uneducated and ordinary people-teen-agers, actually. Notice Jesus didn’t initially choose anyone from the religious community. This makes me think Jesus wouldn’t visit the local seminaries or bible colleges to find the disciples he was looking for. So, why do we believe we’ll find disciples of Jesus there?
Another thing I’ve been thinking. I think we’ve been discipling the wrong people. I know that I have, for sure! Over the years I have chosen several very “key”, highly educated, highly talented, people to be my disciples and most of them fizzled out. One even started a cult! Now, note what’s wrong with my above statement: (1) I chose them. We are not to choose disciples; Jesus is. In fact, I am more and more convinced that disciples aren’t made, but summonsed by Jesus, himself. (2) I chose the cool, “key”, people, who were highly educated and highly talented. Their education, giftedness, and coolness is what tends to get in the way of becoming a disciple of Jesus. This is why the highly educated, highly positioned, Nicodemus was told by Jesus that he must become born again or become as a little child. Why? He knew too much and was too highly positioned to become a disciple. He needed a drastic overhaul of his heart and mind. Then, he was ready! (3) I chose them to be my disciples. How crazy is this? We are to make disciples of Jesus and only Jesus!
A couple of years ago, I met with the pastoral leaders of two mega-Churches in Orange County to offer to help them grow their churches by reaching out to other cultures. Initially, they were all enthused about the possibility of reaching out to Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and agnostic cultures right here in our county. In the end, they all rejected the offer, when I told them that each of these communities must remain in their community and not become members of one of the mega-Churches. You see, making disciples of all nations or cultures has nothing to do with changing the culture or converting them to become like yours. We are to make disciples of Jesus in all of the nations.
One day a wonderful mentor of mine called and asked what I was doing. I told him I was sitting in my living room, discussing several matters with Diana, my wife, and Jason, my son-in-law. He quickly said, “Are you talking about the Jason who is uneducated and ordinary, the one Jesus would immediately choose to follow him?” I said, “Yes.” He continued with, “And is this the Jason who has a father-in-law who is highly educated and talented, a man who Jesus wouldn’t readily choose to follow him? Is this the Jason you are talking about?” Well, he made his point quite clearly!
Who is Jesus looking for? Remember, Jesus says only those who become as a child, who have their heart transformed, who hear his words and practice them, and who realize it is only by the grace of God, will enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus will choose anyone who has these spiritual credentials-rich and poor, educated or uneducated, ordinary or extraordinary. Are you a disciple-a follower of Jesus? You can be, if you want it with all your heart.