Hearing and Obeying Jesus

A follow-up question was written that asks me to share what effects the implications of what I have written will have on a different passage written to a different context by a different author. While the question is certainly legitimate, and has the potential to prompt a second-level investigation, it also risks derailing the call. Here is the next question:

John, would you say that the Ephesians 4 pastor-teacher still only teaches others to obey Jesus teachings, or is it more?

Because of my understanding of Matthew I am convicted that I am not obeying Jesus’ final command (in the first gospel) unless I am discipling disciple makers. Teaching to obey all of Jesus’ commands includes his last command which is to make disciples.

Jesus is incredibly intentional and thorough in his teaching in Matthew. There are those five blocks of oral teaching that are recorded in the first gospel (a little similar material appears in Luke in the sermon on the plain) giving this gospel some of its uniqueness. I am convinced Matthew’s five great teaching sections grapple with core issues of discipleship:
• chapters 5-7 the teaching on the mount in Galilee
• chapter 10 the sending of the twelve
• chapter 13 the parables on the Kingdom
• chapter 18 the teaching on greatness in the Kingdom
• chapters 24-25 the teaching on the mount of Olives

Strangely enough, the word “disciple(s)” never appears after Acts. The concept is certainly in the epistles and Revelation, but the word is absent. “Disciple(s)” seems to serve a special function in the narrative sections, while the meaning attached to it is communicated in other ways as communities or individuals of believers are addressed in the letters.

I believe it is far more fruitful to involve people in a process of discovering Jesus’ teaching than in trying to teach it ourselves. Much of our so-called disciple making (here in North America) is teacher centered more than Jesus centered—in my opinion. Jesus has done a wonderful job of discipling those who will open themselves to hearing him and then obeying. At the close of the Matthew 7 he says those who hear his words will fall into the categories of “wise” or “foolish.” What determines this for each of us is whether or not we obey. Do we practice what Jesus teaches? here is the real test of a disciple.

If you want to make disciples, be sure to teach them to obey Jesus’ teaching—all of it. Never underestimate the value of modeling obedience as you teach them to obey.


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