We've already seen that the spread of the gospel through Jesus and his followers was rapid. His movement was "a mile wide." But how could it be "a mile deep" at the same time?
Is it possible for a movement to spread rapidly in both depth and breadth?
Jesus welcomed the crowds. Jesus had compassion on them, they were the object of his mission.
Yet Jesus never identified the crowds with his band of disciples. They stood between faith and unbelief.
The objective of Jesus’ ministry to the crowds was to make disciples.
Disciples were those who obeyed Jesus’ call to follow him.
Jesus went deep with a few in order to reach the many. He called his disciples to be with him, and he committed to teach them how to fish for people. He trained the men and women who became the nucleus of the world’s first truly missionary movement.
He commissioned his followers to go throughout the whole world and make disciples, teaching them to obey everything he had commanded.
In Acts discipleship is a lifestyle of obedience that results from a living relationship with Jesus. Disciples are those who have responded to the gospel with repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Their sins are forgiven. They have been baptized into the community of his people, and they have received the Holy Spirit.
So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
To become a disciple, is to become obedient to the faith. A rapid increase in the number of disciples is not incompatible with a growth in depth, if depth is understood as learning to obey what Jesus commanded.
How is that possible?