Jesus was a disciple-maker, saying, “Follow me ... and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:17–18). For the next three years, Jesus poured His life and ministry into the twelve Apostles.
Paul was a disciple-maker and mentor who reproduced his ministry into guys like Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Titus, Luke and others. He directed Timothy to follow his lead. “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
And Elisha was a disciple-maker. At least five times in Second Kings, chapters two and four, we read about the “sons of the prophets” (2 Kings, 2:3, 5, 7; 4:38). These guys appear in Bethel, in Gilgal, and at Jericho. But who are they? Maybe we find the answer in story of the floating ax head.
“The sons of the prophets said to Elisha, ‘Please notice that the place where we live under your supervision is too small for us. Please let us go to the Jordan where we can each get a log and can build ourselves a place to live there.’ ‘Go,’ he said. Then one said, ‘Please come with your servants.’ ‘I’ll come,’ he answered. So he went with them, and when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water, and he cried out, ‘Oh, my master, it was borrowed!’ Then the man of God asked, ‘Where did it fall?’ When he showed him the place, the man of God cut a piece of wood, threw it there, and made the iron float. Then he said, ‘Pick it up.’ So he reached out and took it” (2 Kings 6:1–7).
Who were the “sons of the prophets?” They were men under Elisha’s “supervision.” Elisha was obviously concerned about training, discipling, and mentoring the next generation. Apparently, Elisha had built a school, a seminary for those who were called into ministry. How he taught them and how he supervised them remains unclear, but they were growing. As a matter of fact, they had outgrown their facility.
While they were working to enlarge their building, one of the young disciples was cutting down a tree with a borrowed ax. Oops! The iron ax head flew off the handle and landed in the river. In a day when iron tools were rare, the loss of a borrowed ax head was devastating. When the young disciple looked to his mentor for assistance, Elisha threw a chunk of wood into the river and the ax head miraculously floated to the surface. Whoa!
It is also possible that one of the “sons of the prophets” traveled with Elisha. Later, when the Syrian king sent his army to capture Israel’s prophet, they found him in the village of Dothan. Early in the morning, when Elisha’s young companion rose, he saw the surrounding hills filled with the Syrian troops. Fearful, he woke Elisha. “Elisha said, ‘Don’t be afraid, for those who are with us outnumber those who are with them.’ Then Elisha prayed, ‘Lord, please open his eyes and let him see.’ So the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw that the mountain was covered with horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:16–17).
Every Christian should be a disciple-maker (Matthew 28:18-20). Like Elisha, we should pray that God would miraculously open the eyes of young Christ-followers to see God’s activities around us!
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.