First and last words – We learn in psychology that people most remember the first words we say and the last words we say to them. The last words are most important. That’s why your English teacher emphasized the importance of your essay intro and conclusion, but especially making that final thought powerful.
Our most important Teacher is our Savior Jesus Christ. His first and last words to His first disciples, and to us as disciples today, matter. Let’s take a look at what Jesus said.
Jesus’ first words to His disciples were “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19, 9:9, John 1:43). His first words to us are the same. He is calling every one of us to follow Him. Being a disciple means denying our own selfish desires, daily taking up our crosses, and following Him (Matthew 16:24; Luke 9:23).
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
(John 10:27, NLT)
Jesus’ last teaching, before the Passover and trial, was His teaching in the vineyard (John 15). There, His call to His disciples was to abide or remain in Him. He taught that apart from Him we can do nothing. We get our strength and ability to bear fruit by being a part of Him and His work, not our own efforts and plans. Jesus knows our temptation to do things in our own strength, and He’s calling us to trust Him and His power, simply obeying His leading. Then, we will see fruit in our lives.
So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning.
If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father.
And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us. I am writing these
things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. But you have received
the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you
what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know,
and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you,
remain in fellowship with Christ.
(John 1:24-27, NLT)
At the Passover meal, He instituted what we refer to as Communion or the Lord’s Supper today when Jesus commanded His disciples to remember what He had done, to remember that He gave His body and shed His blood as a sacrifice for our sin (Luke 22:19). Why would Jesus want to make sure we remember? This is a common command throughout Scripture. When we forget, we fall away. Jesus knows how fickle people’s hearts are. That’s why so much of the Old Testament tells us of Israel’s history and struggles. The hearts of the people would be fervent in following God and then fall away so easily into worshiping idols. We are the same. Remembering helps us stay steadfast and faithful. When we remember, we draw nearer to God in gratitude. As we draw nearer as Christ’s disciples, we naturally tell others about His death and resurrection and help them follow Christ too.
For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when
he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it.
Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement
confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.”
For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing
the Lord’s death until he comes again.
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26, NLT)
In His final words before His ascension into heaven, Jesus called His followers to go and make disciples teaching them all we’ve learned (Matthew 28:18-20). He told them, and through Scripture, us, to go and make disciples and that He is with us always. His method is simple, and His promise keeps us strong. We simply tell others what we have learned in our walk with God, starting with the Gospel. We are never alone when we reach out to tell others. His Spirit is in us and is with us, and, very importantly, goes before us. His Holy Spirit draws people to Himself. We simply share the Truth and show the way.
So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed
of me [Paul], either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God
gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. …Hold on to
the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped
by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. Through the power of the
Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that
has been entrusted to you.
(2 Timothy 1:8, 13-14, NLT)
Of course, we know it is important that we know and obey all God’s words, but the specific calling to be Jesus’ disciple hinges on these important words: follow, abide, remember, go and teach.
As we delve into what discipleship means and making disciples, we start with the understanding that God has called each of us who are true believers in Christ Jesus to follow Him faithfully, abide in Him and His Word continually, remember always, and teach diligently. And He is with us always.