At the end of Mark, we read, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover” (17-18). These are the people less interested in the practical teachings of Jesus and instead captivated and motivated by the miracles of Jesus - the very power and presence of Jesus. They tend to lean into and seek a faith that doesn’t so much help them make it through every day, but that changes the everyday into the extraordinary. They want radically new and remarkably powerful (Morris 24-25). They are ready for action and they respond to the immediate needs around them. Markens want to bring the miraculous to the mundane and transform people’s lives by showing them the powerful, life giving, life saving presence of Jesus Christ.
Matthew concludes with the words: And Jesus came and said to them, “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. God therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the ather and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Known as the Great Commission (go, make disciples, baptize, teach) these words read like a to-do list of a series of actions. Mattheans are hard working, driven disciples — paying attention to detail, having a plan, getting things done; they are the tangible hands and feet working for Christ, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, making a list and checking it off. They are all about seeing the physical transformation of the world around them and stand on the conviction that faith without works is dead. These are the people who often stand between physical labor and doing right by our faith. Works vs. Grace. Doing and being. Action and contemplation. Matthians love to be taught and to learn but for the sake of doing not just for the sake of learning. Matthians like to know the vision and have a plan to get there.
Luke ends in Luke 24 and Acts. 1. There we read: He (Jesus) said to them, “this is what is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and a change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins must be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to these things. Look, I’m sending to you what my Father promised, but you are to stay in the city until you have been furnished with the heavenly power.” As a result, those who had gathered together asked Jesus, “Lord, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now?” Jesus replied, “it isn’t for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has set by his own authority. Rather, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
In these words, Jesus tells the disciples to start in Jerusalem with the people they know, then go to Judea and Samaria to the people they kinda know, and then go to the ends of the earth to the people they don’t know yet. Lukans are relationship centered disciples — love of God and love of neighbor are the heart of everything. These are the potluck planning, picnic organizing, coffee shop going, fellowship gathering, small group growing, community connecting, everyone is welcome kind of people. These are the followers of Jesus that have the capacity to love everyone. They want to welcome everyone and be welcomed. They want to live into their call of love and help people understand what it means to love and how loving others has its great joys and challenges. Lukan disciples prefer to walk WITH others on the journey and get to know their fellow faith walkers. At the heart of the Lukan disciple is the story of the least, the last, the lost, and the good samaritan. For these disciples it is all about their relationship with Jesus and with those around them.
That leaves us with John, where we read: When they finished eating, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love more than these?” Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep.” He asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed by sheep.” After saying this, Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me.” Peter turned around and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them. This was the one who had leaned against Jesus at the meal and asked him, “Lord, who is going to betray you?” When Peter saw this disciple, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus replied, “If you want him to remain until I come, what difference does that make to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:15-17, 19b-22).
John ends with Jesus and Peter at the lakeshore. Jesus tells Peter what he needs him to do, Peter asks about the other guy on the beach, Jesus tells Peter not to worry about that guy and just focus on what Jesus needs him to do, which is follow Jesus. Johannines are mentor-apprentice nurtured disciples — they look to the Great Teacher (Jesus) but in his absence Scripture and a great pastor will suffice. They are deep students of the Bible, have high expectations for leaders, able to mentor others when they have a level of expertise they are comfortable with, and they are lifelong students focused on soaking up the wisdom of the Master kinds of people. These are the folks that value learning for the sake of learning - for the sake of keeping traditions and hierarchy, for the sake of wisdom and knowledge. They want to know who Jesus is, not just what Jesus is or what he did.
Understanding discipleship plays a large role in how we live out our faith and how we participate in the life of the church. In the end of course, it takes the style of Mark, Mathew, Luke, and John to create the kind of church Jesus intended. May it be that those who follow Jesus recognize the gifts and strengths displayed in these types of discipleship and strive to bring about the best in all of them, thereby bringing about the best in the church and community.
Pastor Jenothy Irvine