Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Matthew 28:19 (ESV)
Make disciples – How does one make a disciple? Perhaps many of us would envision ourselves carrying out the Great Commission by going forward to educate people about Christ. We might set up schools in foreign countries, start up Bible classes, or pass out tracks on the street corners. The sole purpose would be to educate others about Yeshua in a form of information distribution, and as George W. Bush said during his presidency, no child would be left behind.
We live in a Greek based society, under Greek influenced governments, and at the core is our Greek based education system perpetuating it. The Greek system of education is geared around the distribution of information – efficiency over quality. Just look at our schools. Too many kids are being packed into classrooms with over-worked teachers who end up babysitting more than they teach. It’s all about transferring the amount of info you need to pass your next exam.
“Under Greek influence… learning is of higher rank than doing. … for Greeks learning and teaching are different things, whereas the same Hebrew term covers both.”
Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, p. 553,554
Yeshua wasn’t Greek, He was a Jew, and His intention was hebraically influenced when it came to discipling others. The Hebrew education system is much different. It was to push the best of the students forward and cut the rest. In fact you didn’t get to pick your teacher like so many do in the Greek education system – instead, the Rabbi picked his disciples. If you didn’t get picked, you weren’t good enough. It’s a bit harsh for many of us to swallow, but that’s how discipling was done.
In Biblical times in Israel, all boys attended Torah schooling and as they learned, Rabbis would pick the best to further their education. They would ween out the lesser and build up the ones with the most potential. This is why Yeshua was found in His Father’s house after the three days he was missing at the age of 12. The Rabbis were amazed by His potential and wanted to keep Him under their tutelage. If Yeshua would have stayed, he probably would have gone on to become one of the most famous of all Rabbis ever known. But God, using Joseph and Mary, had other plans for Him.
Remember how Yeshua ended up with His disciples? He picked them – they didn’t pick Him. Now why were Peter and Andrew fishing by the sea of Galilee? Because they were rejected from the Rabbinic education system at some point, or they would have been still studying to become Rabbis themselves. But along comes Rabbi Yeshua and tells them to “follow me” – another common way in which a Rabbi would choose a disciple. At this point, it was the disciples job to mimic the Rabbi in every detail. They would walk where he walked, memorize what he said, speak as he spoke, and do as he did. While there was great time spent learning, it was not in the Greek fashion of standing among a classroom and passing out notes. Rabbis would sit among their disciples and talk, share stories, teach parables, and recite the law. But after this, they would go out and then perform all they taught through action. If they taught about helping the poor that day, then they would go out and actually do something to help the poor.
This is discipling! It’s action. It’s picking a few people that you intend to become a part of your life. It’s sharing with them your experiences, and teachings, and then doing those things in real life situations. The disciples would then see God in your life and in your actions, and not just learn from a neatly typed worksheet. So when Yeshua says to “disciple all nations”, He’s requesting you to pick a few people, invite them into your life, and share with them, through experiences, the Word of God. This is the way in which lives are changed. Do you have a disciple?