Calling People to a Commitment and Connecting Them with Other Believers

Calling People to a Commitment and Connecting Them with Other Believers

The second phase in Jesus’ disciple-making process was to call people to a commitment and connect them with other believers. After His rejection in Nazareth, Jesus relocated His ministry base of operations to Capernaum, a thriving city on the northwest shore of Galilee. During this time, John the Baptist was arrested by Herod Antipas, leaving the crowd that was following him without a leader. Jesus stepped into the vacuum of leadership and began preaching to the crowds that had been following John. Jesus also started preaching the simple message “repent and believe,” (Matthew 4.12-17 ESV). It was also at this time, that Jesus intentionally began to raise up a small group of emerging leaders.

The Call of Jesus

One day, as Jesus walked along the shore of Galilee, He saw Peter and John tending to their fishing nets. He called out to them and said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” These men dropped everything and followed Jesus. Then He walked down a bit further and saw James and john working with their father, Zebedee, in the fishing boats. He called to them too, and they left it all to follow Jesus (Matthew 4.18-22 ESV)
What happened there was a big deal. Up to this point, these men had been following Jesus, but they had not made a life-altering commitment to Jesus. They had observed Him, listened to Him, even marveled at Him for the past year and a half; but they had not fully committed to Him. Their lives had not been substantially altered, but that was about to change. Jesus called them to “follow Him.” This is what Dr. Michael Wilkins describes as the “call of Jesus.”
“The call focused people on making a commitment to Jesus, summoning them to place their unreserved faith in him as the One coming with the proclamation of the kingdom. The call at this stage meant commitment to Jesus personally. It also included some sense of joining with Jesus in his announcement that the kingdom of God had arrived.”
“Following the Master”, pages 105-106

Following Jesus is making a commitment to Him

When Jesus said “follow Me”, He was asking them to make a commitment to Him. He was asking them to leave what they had known before and follow Him. Jesus was asking them to trust Him to provide for them, trust Him to lead them, and trust Him to use them for a greater purpose. 
He said, “follow Me,” and they followed Him. From that point on, they were seen as Jesus’ disciples. They publicly identified with Jesus. They lived in community with each other. They joined Jesus in His ministry. 
Over the next six to nine months, they shadowed Jesus as He traveled, preached and healed. Jesus was doing all the ministry heavy lifting, but they were with Him — helping and watching Him. They watched Jesus cast a demon out of a man (Mark 1.21-28 ESV) and heal Peter’s mother-in-law, as well as the thousands who flocked to Jesus for help (Luke 4.38-41 ESV).
While fishing, they dropped their nets at Jesus’ instruction and saw Him orchestrate the largest catch of fish they had ever seen; proving that he was more than able to care for their needs (Luke 5.1-11 ESV). They saw Jesus heal lepers (Luke 5.12-16 ESV), forgive the paralytic (Luke 5.17-26 ESV), reach out to tax collectors (Luke 5.27-32 ESV) and wrangle with the religious legalists who loved external compliance with the law more than people (Luke 5.33-39; 6.1-5 ESV)
They also heard Jesus make bold declarations about Himself, such as, “The Father loves the Son and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom he wishes,” (John 5.20-21 ESV). And “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in him who sent me, has eternal life and will not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life,” (John 5.24 ESV).

Making a commitment to connect

For you to grow spiritually, it is not enough to have a working knowledge of who Jesus is, you must come to a place of commitment. What kind of commitment? Simply put, Jesus wants you to make a commitment to connect. From these passages, we learn that Jesus called his followers to make four vital connections.
Connect with Christ. Jesus called these men to follow Him. The curious cannot remain so forever. A person can’t straddle the fence forever. At some point, one must decide if Jesus is worth following or not. The decision to follow Jesus means that you have heard the Gospel and made the decision to follow Jesus by repenting of your sin and placing your faith in Jesus alone. Only a follower of Jesus can be a disciple of Jesus.
Connect to a local church through baptism. Jesus never called people to follow Him in secrecy. He called these men to publicly identify with Jesus. This is precisely what these disciples were doing. They left their nets and said in effect, “I’m going public in my decision to follow Jesus. Everyone around me from this point forward is going to know that I’m following Jesus.” Once a person has decided to follow Jesus, the next step is to go public with that decision by being baptized. Baptism is the way you tell others that you are now following Jesus and the way you connect with a local church family.
Connect with other believers in community. Not only did these disciples choose to follow Jesus and publicly align with Him, but they also chose to do life together. They spent time together, traveled together and ate together. They learned together and worked out their problems and disagreements together. They chose community. 
Today, this happens when you join a group at your church. It’s in a group that you get to know other believers. You learn from each other, share life’s burdens and celebrate life’s joys together. You learn to care for each other and pray together. I’m convinced that spiritual growth happens best in groups, and Jesus must have thought so too because He put His first disciples in a group.
Connect with Jesus’ cause. Right away, these disciples started joining in on what Jesus was doing. Granted, they were just watching and helping most of the time, but they were engaged in the mission. They were getting their hands dirty in ministry. They were involved. They were contributing their time, talents and treasure to the cause of Christ. 
Today, once you come to faith in Jesus, identify with Him through baptism and join a group, you will want to start getting involved. You can do this by serving in some way. God has gifted you with talents and abilities that He wants to use in His ministry. You can also join the cause by giving financially to kingdom causes like your local church and other disciple-making ministries. As you give and serve, you are moving the cause of Christ forward.
This blog features an excerpt from our book, Invest In A Few.

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