DISCIPLESHIP BUILDER. Jesus didn’t want to raise up dependent disciples who could not operate in Kingdom functions without seeing something first in the physical. Worse, he never dreamed of gathering parasite disciples who would merely feed on his power, instead of having it imparted to them.
In fact, one time, he gave them a vital hint. He said, unless he left them, the Counselor wouldn’t come. Dependence on a physical presence tends to shoo away the power of the Holy Spirit. Physical-presence dependence kind of makes disciples perpetually babies in Christ. So you have to leave your disciples now and then to make them rely more on the Holy Spirit than on you. Then later, you have to leave them for good, though they have to stay connected with you. Real discipleship is forever in this sense.
True discipleship is training them to rely on Jesus, not on you. Many church leaders or disciplers spoon-feed their disciples so they become perpetually dependent on them, having full confidence on their discipler but having zero confidence on their relationship with Christ. How often have I heard of Christians “growing weak” because they missed going to their church building on a Sunday or because they’re in a different place and attended a different Christian church, “missing” their pastor in the process. They’re strong only as long as they see their discipler physically around. This is as worse as having no discipleship at all. Disciplers, don’t ever steal the bride! The bride belongs to Jesus alone. The friend of the Groom is happy to see the bride in the arms of the Groom.
Remember John the baptizer? He quickly pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God the moment the time for the Son of Man had arrived. There’s a time to train and to be close to disciples, and there’s a time to release them and let go. Once you have trained your disciples lessons on proper walking, let them walk to Jesus to walk with Him for life. Disciples, on the other hand, should learn proper giving of honor to their disciplers for life. You should follow and imitate Jesus Christ but stay connected to your human discipler for life.
No wonder Jesus kept leaving his disciples now and then. One time he let them go ahead to the other side of the lake while he stayed behind on a mountain to pray. One time he left them to go to a remote place so he could meet with the Father. One time he sent them two by two to do ministry by themselves. One time he sent them ahead to a village for the Passover. Once, he lamented the fact that he couldn’t “leave” them yet to do great things by themselves through faith, saying, “How long shall I have to be with you? How long shall I have to put up with you?” [Mark 9.19].