The question I want to consider in this month's blog is: Are there identifiable markers that can tell you or me where we are on the journey to becoming a Mature Disciple?
In other words, are there milestones we can use to mark our spiritual progress or that of someone whom we are discipling?
I contend that the answer is a resounding “Yes!” I believe the answer is found in recognizing and understanding the stages of Jesus’ ministry with the men who became His disciples. I call these stages “The Four Calls of Jesus.” In this blog, we will explore the 1st Call of Jesus.
Jesus’ 1st Call: Come and See
"Come and see" is Jesus’ first call. It is His first call to anyone, whether 2,000 years ago as He physically walked the earth or today in the 21st century. It was fundamentally His first call to you and to me. It is the call to RECOGNITION AND BELIEF. It is the call to recognize or “see” Jesus as the one-of-a-kind Person that He is and to believe that He is, in fact, the promised Anointed One (Messiah) Whom God has sent to save us.
The specific call to “Come and See” is recorded early in Jesus’ ministry. It is spoken explicitly by Jesus Himself. It also is spoken, implicitly and explicitly, by some of the men who, having seen Jesus, invite others to come and see Him.
The response of “Believe” is recorded throughout Jesus' ministry, as people experience the amazing words and awesome deeds of this One who “speaks with authority” and whom “even the unclean spirits” and “even the winds” obey (Mark 1:27; Matthew 8:27).
Here are some examples of Scriptures illustrating this first call:
Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, "What do you seek?" They said to Him, " Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?" He said to them, "Come, and you will see." So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.
One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which translated means Christ). [Implicitly, “Come and see.”] He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter).
The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He found Philip. And Jesus said to him, "Follow Me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Nathanael said to him, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."
Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing [seeing] His signs which He was doing.
Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they [implicitly, “believed and”] said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."
But many of the crowd believed in Him; and they were saying, "When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?"
As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.
Note that the call to “Come and See and Believe,” to recognition and belief, requires little or no action on the part of the Believer. The significance of this will become clearer in the next Call. Suffice it to say here that those who believed thought they could anticipate all the future benefits of Jesus being their Messiah without having to give up any of their present pursuits or agenda. They could, IF and WHEN they chose to, come out to see and hear Jesus whenever He was in the vicinity. When He wasn’t nearby, they probably went about their business, not thinking much about Him.
The counterpart to this today would be the many people who claim to be saved but whose lives show little real difference from those who aren’t saved. This first group believes that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died for their sins and rose again, and that because of this they will go to heaven when they die. However, they still live their lives largely according to their own priorities, plans, and agenda. They show up for Jesus (in worship, fellowship, service, evangelism, etc.) when it is convenient for them, and look for Him (by praying) when they need something.
Bear in mind that this “Come and See crowd,” as I call them, is not simply the same as the “Christmas & Easter” crowd. The latter is rarely seen except on these Christian "holy days." The former, however, are seen frequently on Sundays. They are “good folks” with good intentions. They may show up regularly to many activities of their local churches. But if so, it is more because they have chosen to include these activities in their own routines and agendas than because they have given up their own agendas for God’s. And when non-routine church activities conflict with their agenda, or when God puts one of His non-church, kairos-type, positive opportunities before them, more often than not they will choose to pursue their own agenda instead.
Finally, it is important to note that we only have record of Jesus personally calling people to “Come and see” during the first four to five months of His ministry. At least with respect to the men who became His closest disciples, Jesus called them to the next stage fairly quickly.
As one would expect, Jesus’ first call would go just above the horizontal axis of our SM/T Graph, as shown here.
Join us next month as we explore Jesus' 2nd Call: Come and Follow Me!