Making, Maturing & Multiplying
By Ian Bawden (Elder)
Believers, disciples, are also called to be disciple-makers (Matthew 28:19-20). Mature disciples build up, lead, teach, and baptise new believers, or new disciples, in the ways of the Lord so that they, in turn, can be used by the Lord in His saving of other souls to be Jesus’ disciples and hence disciple-makers. Thus, Jesus’ disciples are multiplied.
In Matthew 5-7, we find the passage we call “The Sermon on the Mount”, the longest recorded sermon Jesus gave. We read that Jesus sat down, outside, on the mountain. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them. Jesus was teaching and maturing these listening disciples of His there on the mountain. Now, as we also have this record, clearly Jesus is also teaching us, His disciples.
When Jesus had finished the Sermon on the Mount, the crowds that had come, as He taught the disciples, reacted, and this is recorded in Matthew 7:28-29, “…the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.”
In the beginning of this amazing message of Jesus to His disciples (and to the listening crowd), we find in Matthew 5:1-12 the passage we call “The Beatitudes”. This name comes from the Latin “beatus”, meaning “blessed”.
These 8 sayings are a unit; Jesus is teaching all His disciples, all believers, us, that these are the characteristics all believers have. These are not what you need to do to be saved…all believers will have these characteristics; they are given by God the Holy Spirit to the new believer, the new disciple of Jesus. These are not natural qualities; nobody by their natural birth, by their nature, possess them.
How different we are to be now as disciples to what we were before we were saved from the world. Disciples should be aware that when Jesus was preaching this message to them, that there were others there too, in the crowd, the unsaved who were looking on, a curious crowd. What will the onlookers from the world, even new disciples, see in us? Will they see in us these 8 characteristics, at least in some measure, or will we appear to them as no different to those in the world?
There is much for us to learn from what Jesus is teaching us here, so where do we start? First pray, read the passage, see, and hence hear Jesus’ words. There are also many excellent books and commentaries that can help us. A classic is the book by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, STUDIES IN THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT, VOL 1 & 2; and a link to a summary of the words of this classic is found here. Be challenged and encouraged as you investigate this treasure-trove of what Jesus teaches what His disciples are, and what the unsaved crowd will be, if they are saved, hence also becoming disciples of Jesus.