There has been no other life that has had more of an impact on the world than that of Jesus Christ. Virtually everyone readily acknowledges that Jesus Christ changed the course of human history. Even our calendar is based on his birth.
The impact of Jesus’ life is all the more remarkable when we consider that he never used a telephone, he had no Internet access, and never appeared on television or in a newspaper. Jesus never wrote a book, nor did he ever travel far from his home. How, then, did Jesus influence the world as he did?
Humanly speaking, Jesus’ lasting impact came through the people he left behind. Jesus’ strategy for changing the world was to train disciples who could make disciples of others. It wasn’t Jesus himself who carried the message of the gospel to Rome and beyond, it was his followers who did so.
The gospel accounts show us that a large part of Jesus’ ministry centered on training his followers to reach others with the Good News. Jesus’ goal of making disciples who could make disciples was evident even as he called his first followers: “Jesus called out to them, ‘Come, be my disciples, and I will show you how to fish for people!’” (Matthew 4:19 NLT, author’s emphasis).
Jesus’ goal was not to gather followers. Instead, Jesus’ goal was to train twelve people to carry out his mission. Jesus was not upset or worried when the crowds started to desert him. His only question was whether or not his twelve would turn aside. In John 6:66-67 we read:
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve (NIV).
Though the crowds left Jesus, he knew his Twelve could eventually reach them again. But if the Twelve turned away there would have been no one equipped to carry on Jesus’ mission once he left the earth.
Adapted from The Church in Many Houses: Reaching Your Community through Cell-Based Ministry Copyright © 2005 by Steve Cordle