Did discipleship work? The short answer is yes. The following connection will clearly reveal that it did. Does it still work? I’m afraid it’s a simple plan that has fallen by the wayside. It obviously does not work if we don’t practice it. Let’s be encouraged by this picture of discipleship working and transferring on to others well after the death and resurrection of Christ.
Jesus teaching his disciples on the mountain:
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5:11-12
Here we know Jesus was teaching his disciples about true blessedness. The teacher gives the information and the students listen. Will the teaching transfer into practice? The next text shows that it became the practice of Jesus’s disciples but also continued to be taught in discipleship. Look with me in Acts.
8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.
9 Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen.
10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.
11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.”
12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council,
13 and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law,
14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.”
15 And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. – Acts 6:8-15
Obviously Stephen had all kinds of false accusations leveled at him. What would his response be? Was Stephen taught what true blessedness was? Well it seems clear that he was discipled and it became his practice because Acts 7 reveals his response.
There the disciple of Christ does not debate whether the accusations are false but rather preaches the gospel. I would assume Stephen expected this and knew very well that they needed to hear.
This type of response has continued because discipleship has continued. Jesus taught his disciples and his disciples taught more disciples. May we go and makes disciples of all nations!