“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:12-14).
Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus investing in his disciples. He called these men to follow him, taught them how to obey the Father and how to love people, and built a friendship with them along the way. This friendship was intentional. He used it to make truth known, to encourage obedience, and to model what a life devoted to the Father looked like. He was preparing them to continue his ministry after he was gone.
As he was leaving, he gave them their mission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18). We understand this commission as the means to spread the gospel to all nations. It makes sense because it’s what Jesus did. It worked because here we are today.
This commission is not just for the missionaries–the ones who go. It’s for all believers. We may not go overseas, but if we are to accomplish this work, it will require us to go. We need to go into our workplaces and share the good news. We need to go to our neighbors and build relationships. We need to go to our kitchen tables, ask good questions, and listen to the hearts of our children and spouses. We need to go into the church and intentionally invest in the lives of believers.
Upon hearing the good news and trusting Jesus as Savior, believers must learn to obey all God has commanded them. They aren’t meant to do this alone. They also aren’t going to get this type of training in corporate worship on a Sunday morning. When Jesus says to “teach them to obey,” we look at how he modeled this with his disciples. Within the intimate friendships with a couple of men, he modeled, taught, encouraged, rebuked, and held them accountable. We get to witness in the New Testament how these men went on to build the church after Jesus was gone.
Through this intentional investment, believers experience growth. Accelerated spiritual growth. They learn to value and treasure God’s Word, to store it in their hearts, to pray faithfully, to share vulnerably, to encourage and to receive encouragement, to challenge and to be challenged. God is faithful to meet us where we are, but he doesn’t leave us there. Through disciple-making, he transforms us into the likeness of his Son.
Then he sends us. Maybe far away, or maybe just next door. Either way, he laid out the work of disciple-making for us, work that he has called, equipped, and encouraged us to do. The best news? He is always with us. We don’t produce spiritual growth in ourselves or our disciples. God is at work, and he is in control of outcomes. We must only walk in obedience.
In every season we can intentionally invest in the people around us through disciple-making. Our children and the women around us are hungry for intimacy with the Lord, knowledge of His character, and help through tough circumstances. You don’t need all the answers. You purposefully partner with your disciples and learn and grow together. God will provide for all your needs. You and your disciples will experience spiritual growth as you commit to Jesus’ method of disciple-making. What a privilege and a joy to continue the work of Jesus and contribute to the kingdom of God in this way.