The Lord Jesus was the Supreme Disciple-Maker. He set the standard for all would-be disciples and all would-be disciple-makers.
We outlined nine conditions for a person who would truly be a disciple. We shall look at them briefly and see that the Lord Jesus fulfilled all of them.
1. HE LOVED THE FATHER SUPREMELY AND HIS LOVE WAS MANIFESTED IN UNQUESTIONED OBEDIENCE
He said, “I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 5:30). Again He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5:19). Again the Lord said, “I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4).
2. HE LOVED THE BRETHREN IN A SUPREME WAY
The Bible says of Him, “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). He told the eleven apostles, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). “This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13). The apostle said, “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
3. HE WAS “SEPARATED” FROM HIS FAMILY
He was separated unto His Father from heaven and He bore the marks of that separation all His life. Even at the tender age of twelve, He withdrew from his parents without prior permission and when He was brought to answer for it, He answered most naturally, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).
Later on, when He had started His public ministry, the Bible says, “Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him for the crowd. And he was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.’ But he said unto them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it’” (Luke 8:19-21).
Although He was separated from His family, on the Cross He stopped to hand His mother to John, so that he might be a son to her and she a mother to him. In that way, He provided for her for the future when He would be gone back to the Father.
4. HE SEPARATED HIMSELF FROM HIMSELF
The fact that He did nothing on His own account and nothing of His own initiative, but only what the Father willed, talks of total and radical separation from His own will. In the darkness of Gethsemane, His cry was, “Not my will but thine.” The apostle said, “Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7). Yes, the Lord emptied Himself. He did not empty Himself of self. He had no selfish self to be emptied of. He emptied Himself of His glory. He put aside all that He was by right as God.
He asked that those who would come after Him should take up their crosses and follow Him. He certainly was willing to lead the way to where cross-bearing disciples would end.
5. HE BORE THE CROSS. HE SUFFERED
He said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18); “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20).
The Lord suffered persecution all through His ministry and finally died as a result of crucifixion. He invites the disciple not to a theory, but to a rough road that He once trod.
6. HE RENOUNCED ALL
Jesus really had much to renounce. He had all the glory of heaven. He renounced that. He had His right as God, He renounced that. The Bible further tells us, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
The Lord did not renounce all because there was something wrong in what He had. He renounced all so that He might accomplish a purpose which could not be accomplished without renouncing all. He was so anxious to see us rich that He laid aside His own riches; for they stood in His way of making us rich. No one can really surrender a thing unless that thing stands so much in the way of something he very much desires. Only then will he put away the lesser that he may obtain the greater. Unless a person sees that winning the world to Christ is much more important than living in luxury, he will not wholeheartedly renounce anything. In a sense, renouncing all is the fruit of revelation. When God opens a person’s eyes and reveals to him the greatness of Christ and Christ’s estimation of the souls that need to be saved, the person will renounce all easily. Revelation is the key. Jesus saw and so He renounced all.
His renunciation was thorough. He told a Scribe who was considering the possibility of following Him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).
He had food and clothing. The women who followed Him provided for his food and clothing. The soldiers even gambled over his garment. He was satisfied with food and clothing and told his disciples to do the same. The apostle Paul said, “But if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:8).
7. HE WAS THE WORD AND HE WAS IN THE WORD
When the devil came against Him, He used the Word to outclass him. He proclaimed to the devil, “It is written.” After His resurrection, we are told, “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).
He lived the Word. The Word said concerning Him, “I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered” (Matthew 26:31) He obeyed this Scripture as He gave Himself unto death on the Cross. He knew the Word. He obeyed it and He taught it.
8. HE BORE MUCH FRUIT
All the elements of character as God meant them to be were manifested to the fullest in Him. The fruit of the Spirit:
were all most fully developed in Him.
The fruit of Service in the power of the Holy Spirit was also abundantly manifested in Him. There are multitudes in His Kingdom today. Only a few seemed to have been faithful by the time that He died and rose again; but because He had made disciples, His work has continued.
He lost none of those that the Father gave Him. He kept them in the truth. That the author writes about these things today, nearly two thousand years since He was in this world, speaks of the success of His fruit-bearing work. Glory be to the Lord!
9. HE WAS WITHOUT SIN
He was absolutely without sin. The Bible says, “For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
All who want to make disciples must, like the Master disciple-Maker, fulfill the conditions for becoming and continuing as a disciple! It is not possible to make someone into something which you yourself have refused to become.