Updated: Apr 6
Matthew 28:18-19, “Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’.”
God could have designed a thousand different ways to mature His Church; but in His good sovereignty, He decided one of His main methods for growth would be relationships. What is more astonishing is that Jesus came down, left behind all the comforts of heaven, and in flesh showed us what a perfect mentor looks like. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9) Jesus came near us, embraced us, and gifted us with His discipleship (mentoring). Prior to His death and resurrection, this is one of the most loving things He has given His Church.
Discipleship was not a new thing in ancient times. Men would, on occasion, leave their normal community behind to follow scholarly masters. Often the masters were served by disciples as they taught them philosophies and traditions. Jesus did things a bit different. He called men to Himself and He served them. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
To the dismay of many Jewish leaders, Jesus didn’t choose professionals to mentor. He chose outcasts - sinners like you and me; and He didn’t merely teach with words. He gave them His whole self. He became the center of their lives and these friendships grew as strong as any family bonds.
In deed and in truth, Jesus showed them how to depend on God, how to proclaim the gospel, how to interact with the lost, how to love their neighbors, how to handle rejection…the list goes on. In every interaction, Jesus demonstrated God’s character to His disciples. He raised these men up from spiritual infants to spiritual disciplers - men that were ready to go and do likewise. This is mentoring: following closely after Christ, living out His gospel and helping others to do the same.
Jesus always had His death in view as He walked this earth. The cross was the only way to redeem His people and He pointed to it often, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. And He said to all, ‘If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me’.” (Luke 9:22-23) He challenged His disciples to live with the same sacrificial attitude. It was going to cost them time, personal involvement, and messy relationships; but it was so worth it. The sacrifice brought forth an abundance of fruit. (Eph 5:1-2)
This fruit blossomed into the beginning of Christ’s flourishing Church. We get a glimpse of it in Acts 2:42-47, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…and day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Such a simple model, yet so effective. A healthy church looks a lot like Jesus.
A healthy church looks a lot like Jesus.
No one has or ever will mentor more perfectly than Christ; but we all, as a body, can join Him in refining and encouraging one another. We are called to pursue this God-glorifying task in the setting of our local church community. Next time we’ll talk about what a culture of mentoring should look like biblically.