Like pedaling a bike, discipleship is a matter of balance and cycles. So long as we continue a forward momentum and have a reasonable sense of balance then we can stay upright and get to our destination. The momentum comes from a cycle of pushing down with the left foot and then the right foot, over and over again. Jesus launched His discipleship movement with exactly those simple factors of balance and cycles in mind.
He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons. (Mark 3:14-15)
Notice the balance. Two main verbs apply to the disciples; they are to be with Jesus, He sends them out.1 The first is done by the disciples; it is their active verb, although we mistakenly think of “being” as a passive thing. Jesus sends disciples; they simply have to be available to go. Like bicycle riding where both legs are in motion at the same time but we exert one leg at a time, so discipleship depends on both being with Jesus and responding to Him.
In Mark’s concise statement about Jesus’ discipleship program two activities result from Jesus sending His disciples—preaching and having authority over demons. Few people have any problem accepting that disciples have a role in sharing the gospel message but many struggle with the idea of casting out demons. Although I believe that the authority to cast out demons is very real and relevant today, I think two principles underlying the two ministries must be understood. Jesus Himself functioned in two broad ways: He proclaimed the message of the kingdom of God but He also demonstrated the reality of that kingdom by astounding miracles.
Jesus often did His signs and wonders first; sometimes He explained them later. In essence, what onlookers witnessed, and what so amazed them, was the fact that what happened was not normal in this world. When the skin of lepers became healthy, eyes began making sense of light, legs grew and flexed properly, and a dead man wrapped up like a mummy stepped from a gloomy tomb, a new kingdom was breaking in. Actions speak louder than words; Jesus did His miracles and preached a parallel message by way of explanation.
When demons flee at a command, it is evident that a greater spiritual being has taken authority. This miracle, more than most others, demonstrates the defeat of Satan. The kingdom of God is not just filling a vacuum; it is conquering a tyrant, freeing captives from an oppressor.
That’s the essence of discipleship—it’s as simple as a bike ride. Everyone who has trusted in what Jesus did on the cross and made Him Lord is a disciple—in relationship with the risen Jesus as His messenger and servant.
Is your Christian life in balance, moving ahead like a well ridden bicycle? Are the cycles of being with Jesus (watching and listening to Him, learning from Him) and responding to His directions working smoothly in your life like well-oiled pedals?
If you know someone who needs encouragement or who helps strengthen others in their discipleship journey, please tell them about Bible Maturity.
- Which is where the word apostle comes from, “sent one.” [↩]