I saw a list of words on the church bulletin the other day. I was happy to see the first word on the list was “learn”. That is what disciples do.
In Jesus’ day, disciples were people who followed a teacher around and learned from him. A revered rabbi would have young men that followed him around. He would talk as they walked. He would sit and teach when it was really important. His disciples would learn his teaching and put it into practice.
Churches sometimes come up with funny lists of the things when they say they want to make disciples. But the primary thing must be teaching. A person cannot follow Christ if he does not know him, and he cannot know him unless someone teaches him from the word of Christ.
Jesus did this. He told men to follow him. Then he taught them. Sometimes he preached to large crowds, as with the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5-7) Sometimes he let them watch while he ministered to people. At times, he taught only the twelve apostles (Matthew 10), especially when it was crucial. He told people to take his yoke upon them and to learn from him. (Matthew 11:29)
Right before Jesus ascended to heaven, he told his disciples to carry on the mission of discipleship. He told them to go into all nations, baptize them, and teach them to observe all that he commanded them. (Matthew 28:19-20) In other words, preach the gospel to the lost, baptize those who believe, then teach them all that Jesus said so that they could follow him also.
The apostles were faithful to the mission. Acts 2:42 tells us what the first believers practiced when they gathered. First on the list is “they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching”.
Paul’s letters in the New Testament are his teaching to those believers to keep them obedient to Christ with correct doctrine.
The Church must teach Christ’s followers. Those who teach must be true to God’s word. And believers must develop a spirit of eagerness to listen and learn.
Disciples are learners.