Jesus’ Pattern is Impossible: So Let’s Just Give Up?

Thursday is for Discipleship

TogetherSee “How did Jesus Do it”  for the beginning of this thread. Five observations were briefly discussed concerning Jesus’ process of discipleship.

  1. He lived with them
  2. He conversed with them
  3. He modeled for them.
  4. He gave them responsibility.
  5. He left them.

He did all of this with a determined purpose which we called INTENTIONAL WITHNESS based on Mark 3:13-15.

I want to pick up the discussion and focus on #1–He lived with them.

Most scholars put the public ministry of Jesus at between 3-4 years in length. Shortly after the wedding feast at Cana Jesus began to collect the first 12 men in whom he would invest the remainder of his earthly ministry. There were others, another 60 in addition to the 12, are mentioned in Luke 10. There were the 120 in the upper room, women included in this latter group.  Among the twelve apostles, Peter, James and John seemed to be singled out for additional instruction. Some have suggested that near the end of Jesus’ ministry Andrew was becoming a fourth member of this inner circle.

With the twelve, Jesus went everywhere. There is no evidence that Jesus went anywhere alone with three exceptions: one, his 40 days of prayer in the wilderness (Matthew 4), two, his sending of the disciples ahead of him once before the feast of booths (John 7:1-15) and three, when he told the disciples to go to the other side of the lake while he dismissed the crowds and then went up to the mountain to pray (Matthew 14:22-23).  I suppose you could count approaching the woman at the well alone as the disciples were out getting food (John 4) but even here Jesus wasn’t going anywhere, he was waiting for the disciples to return and (I think) setting up an opportunity to teach them.

Three to four years of walking from village to village. Three years of conversation, questions and answers, thinking, watching him preach, hearing him explain, seeing him pray, observing him minister to the blind, the poor, the lame, the rich, men and women. Let your mind run a bit on how much time the disciples, who had “left all to follow” (Mark 10:28)–how much time they had in the presence of Jesus. It is a huge number of hours.

How is this type of close proximity possible in our technological society and culture? Answer: It isn’t.

This leads me to two initial thoughts:

  1. Thanks to God for sending the Holy Spirit, without whom, the work of transformation in my life and the lives of those I lead would be utterly impossible.
  2. I know Jesus’ pattern (And for that matter, Paul’s) can’t be duplicated but how can it be approximated? What are some ways that we in the post-modern era can get more time, more life on life, more conversation, more modeling, more Q and A with those we seek to influence for the glory of the Name?

Let’s talk about that.

© Marty Schoenleber, Jr. 2010

5 thoughts on “Jesus’ Pattern is Impossible: So Let’s Just Give Up?

  1. Priming the pump:
    1. Take people with us everywhere. Why go to the grocery store alone?
    2. Do sermon prep with elders and staff.
    3. Go out and do evangelism together once a week.
    4. Drop everything and pray all night with your people periodically.
    5. Take a vacation together that involves a lot of hiking and talking about the significant issues of life.
    6. Enter into accountability relationships with a few.
    7. Take your small group or house church on mission together on a regular basis (at least once a month) to serve or preach out in the neighborhood in some way.

    Let’s hear your ideas. I’ll give more of mine this evening.

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  2. I don’t think the blog accepted my first try.

    Practice hospitality together. Invite unbelieving friends and disciples together at the same time.

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  3. “How is this type of close proximity possible in our technological society and culture? Answer: It isn’t”

    I have realized it is almost fully possible with my sons (now 6 and 8). Since mom works too, they are having to go to the hospital with me, prayer meetings, even sitting with the “elders” at coffee shop meetings (b/c they can’t go to the bars with us) as we discuss the body and issues (discerning about what we say or discuss of course). And I invite, welcome, other leaders to do the same with their children.

    “2.I know Jesus’ pattern (And for that matter, Paul’s) can’t be duplicated but how can it be approximated? What are some ways that we in the post-modern era can get more time, more life on life, more conversation, more modeling, more Q and A with those we seek to influence for the glory of the Name”

    Frankly, the above about families doing it together, is the most effective real impact I’ve noticed. If people feel their children are welcome, even if “out of control” or “unruly” the families come together. The “rub” is that we have to run into each other’s “family” values, which are not always “kingdom values” – some kids are much more expressive or “out there” and violate “cultural mores.” But we have found that once people start giving grace, we parent publically together. We learn from each other. One “unruly” kid that a parent can’t figure out how to handle might find another parent interrupting his manipulative patterns of his parents, and we see it in each other. It’s a very hard line to be careful with, but if we know we love each other, and learn that, we know we love each other’s kids.

    One caveat… homeschoolers… have not felt welcome… b/c frankly… we aren’t in the higher socio-economic stratosphere where people can afford it and maybe I’m assuming too much, but most Christian Homeschoolers I’ve known haven’t been exposed to quite as much and don’t “handle” some cultural violations of their “family values” or “christian values” as well.

    another caveat we’ve experienced… “behavioral values” – we had a family not stay b/c of “manners of the kids” was unruly. Like, as funny as it is, they were embarrassed and ashamed some kids went off on a “farting” thing together. Likely boys of course, laughing about it instead of profusely apologizing. Now, I understand mannerism values have their place in each culture, but where is the line of Kingdom Values in behavioral values? And grace?

    We also learned… besides my wife and I, allowing this has produced a group that has but only two couples among us that had two parent homes. In other words, they are coming to faith in Jesus and trying to figure out how to parent together and keep marriages together and did not learn alot of parenting from their parents – so we openly ask our father to help us together.

    We’ve also learned… parents with “trouble” with a kid, whether at school or disabilities, gather together b/c they need a group of people who understand that when their kid goes “crazy” in public behavior there is a huge amount of grace in understanding parents don’t always know how to handle it or that a kid has free will.

    In some ways, people who join us have to be able to be “open” with their struggle with behavioral sin or family struggles. EVERYBODY is struggling to love well or follow Jesus in their family relationships in some ways, we just have families who can’t find a church where they feel their obviously open failures and struggles with kids behavior is gracefully and lovingly interacted with. I think I’m seeing kids grow together, learn together, and good changes. It’s making “generational” impact. And it’s opening up marriages to be “walked” together with – We ask questions: “how do we parent and hold our marriage together? How do you do it? What is Jesus doing with us in this? What is a covenant with each other? What is Jesus covenant with us?”

    Long response…must…get…back…to… work 😉

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