First, Jesus chooses the most unlikely disciples.
All four Gospel writers name Mary Magdalene first in the list of visitors to Jesus’ tomb (Matt. 28:1, Mark 16:1, Luke 24:10, John 20:1). Scholars and pastors regularly point to this fact as evidence for the truthfulness of the resurrection. Nobody at that time would’ve chosen a woman, and more specifically a woman with a troubled past (Mark 16:9), to be the first eye witness to the most significant moment in human history. Before and after the resurrection, Jesus’ ministry was shockingly inclusive of the marginalized and of those deemed unworthy.
The Easter story is supernatural and countercultural. Then and now, the gospel is for anyone.
Second, disciple-making begins with personal stories.
Mary Magdalene has been called “the apostle to the Apostles.” After first appearing to her at the garden tomb, Jesus sent Mary to tell the other disciples that she had seen the risen Lord (Luke 24:9–10, John 20:17–18). Let that sink in for a moment. The disciples who soon led the church first heard of the resurrection from Mary’s personal story. This was an intentional choice by Jesus.
This is still an essential step in making disciples today. We need to share our personal stories. Don’t skip stories in favor of teaching. We need both. Even if people don’t believe or understand what is being shared, the Spirit works through the testimony of Believers. The gospel of Jesus isn’t an abstract religious idea—it’s a life-changing reality.
If I could highlight one thing for church leaders this Easter, it would be to share stories in the days and weeks to come. Your staff, leaders, congregation, and broader community need to be challenged and encouraged by the stories of real people meeting Jesus in real ways—especially ways that can’t be explained other than the power and goodness of God.
Third, discipleship requires biblical teaching.
Christ met two disciples walking away from Jerusalem that first Easter Sunday (Luke 24:13). They shared the stories they’d heard about Jesus. He explained how all of Scripture ultimately points to Him (Luke 24:17). Throughout the Gospels, including the resurrection accounts, the disciples are described with sentences like this one: “For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he must rise from the dead” (John 20:9).
Personal stories can spark spiritual curiosity, even when mixed with doubt or confusion. That openness is fertile soil for the truth of God’s Word to take root. It often takes time and patience for the Bible to make sense, to be believed, and to be applied. Before and after His resurrection, Jesus pointed again and again to Scripture as the truth by which God’s people should live. As disciples and disciple-makers, we should do the same.
Finally, life-change occurs through experience.
Even after hearing people’s stories and being taught Scripture, nobody’s life was truly transformed by faith until they experienced Jesus for themselves (Matt. 28:17, Mark 16:11–14, Luke 24:11–12 and 30–49, John 20:20–29). The disciples understood the stories and scriptures, seeing them in a new light, once they had a personal encounter with Jesus. Their lives were changed forever. They no longer hid in fear (John 20:19), but rejoiced and boldly proclaimed the gospel message of the risen Christ (Acts 4:20).
Making disciples certainly includes biblical teaching; it’s not less than theology, but we’d do well to remember that it’s more than just religious education. Discipleship is experiential. As disciple-makers we want to do more than just tell people about Jesus. We want people to have more than just a knowledge of Scripture. We want people to experience Jesus for themselves.
These things were true then and now.
2,000 years later, Jesus still welcomes and works through ordinary and unexpected people to be His disciples and to make new disciples. What’s your plan for:
- engaging people in disciple-making relationships,
- developing practices like sharing personal stories,
- deepening theological maturity through biblical study,
- and helping people experience life as Christ’s disciples?
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