I’m reading through the gospels chronologically to discover for myself the process Jesus used to make disciples. This approach has been recommended in multiple disciple making resources, so I thought I’d give it a try.
Today I read the story of the man who comes to Jesus asking that Jesus follow him to his house to heal his son. Jesus refuses to go with the man and the man pleads for the life of his son. After a very brief interchange Jesus tells the man to go and that his son will live. The man believes Jesus and leaves to return to his son. The story ends with the father discovering that his son was healed at exactly the time when Jesus spoke. The result is that he and all his household believe.
This is a very nice story that confirms what Jesus said before healing the boy, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” Jesus performed a sign and the man believed. The man believed, but as far as we know he did not become a follower of Jesus. How did his life change after he believed? We don’t know, because we never hear about him again.
This got me thinking about the great commission in Matthew 28:19,20. Jesus didn’t command His followers to go and make believers. Instead, Jesus commanded them to go and make disciples, people who would be learners and followers. I think Jesus understood that simple belief is a good thing, but an insufficient thing if the goal is a changed life. Following Jesus and learning from Jesus are the things that produce real change.