The life of Jesus takes on many different shades. He came to be the sacrifice for sin, and He paid that awful price, Hebrews 9:26, 10:12. He came to be King of His kingdom, Matthew 25:34. The most far-reaching demand of His earthly sojourn was that He called men and women to be His disciples.
He chose twelve men to be His apostles and their names are well known to us. The qualifications set forth for apostles (see Acts 2:21-22) preclude any today being an apostle, but Jesus has many disciples today, and He wants all to be His disciples. But what is a disciple of Jesus? And what does a disciple of Jesus do? And where do you and I fit in this picture?
The word, “disciple”, has its roots in a term that means “a learner;pupil; disciple.” It is also seen in its verb form in Matthew 28:18 where the meaning is to “make a disciple; to teach.”
A “disciple” of Jesus Christ is one who has submitted his life and his ways to follow in “His steps,” 1 Peter 2:21. Each of us can be His disciple, but we must be willing to do certain things to be like Him. Note the following things the Bible says a disciple of Jesus will be and do:
- A disciple of Jesus must want to be like Jesus, Matthew 10:24-25. As a child often imitates his father, it should be common for a child of God to imitate Christ. No one is “drafted” into His army, His kingdom. “It is enough for the disciple to be as His master.”
- A disciple must put His master above all else, Luke 14:26. He/she cannot waver between allegiance to Christ and family or friends, or even a government. A faithful son or daughter? Of course! Obedient to parents? Yes. But for Jesus’ disciple, our most powerful, our greatest allegiance is to Christ and His kingdom. He must come first.
- Jesus’ disciples must be generous and helpful to others. In Matthew 10:42 we read that a disciple is someone who gives a “cup of cold water unto one of these little ones…shall in no wise lose his reward.” Note also Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25:31-46. Selfishness is not characteristic of one who is Jesus’ disciple.
- A disciple of Jesus must be willing to be a “learner”; to enroll and be a diligent student of Jesus’ word. It should be obvious from the first – I need to sit at the feet of the Master Teacher. A study of what Jesus said and did should be an obvious part of a disciple’s time and energy.
- Jesus’ disciples must be willing to stand with and honor their Master, John 18:15-16. When Jesus hung from the cross, John, His disciple, was there, John 19:26. Others may have been hiding, fearful of those in power among the Jews. Today, we must be willing to speak out for the word of God, the gospel of the Christ, our Master.
- A disciple of Jesus must also be willing and anxious to “bear his cross and follow” Christ, Luke 14:27. Being a disciple will bring opposition and persecution. The apostle Paul was inspired to write the following warning:
“All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,” 2 Timothy 3:12.
The method of persecution may not be the same as in the New Testament era, but it will come. It goes with being Jesus’ disciple. The issue for you and for me is: Will we be willing to be a faithful Christian even if it means facing the opposition of our friends and neighbors? If I am to be His disciple, I must be willing to “bear” my cross. Some may be overcome, but you and I must not give in to the ministers of Satan who seek our destruction.
Becoming a “disciple” of Jesus Christ is not difficult, but living as a disciple takes all of my courage and determination. Be aware of Satan’s “devices”, 2 Corinthians 2:11. Satan wants you…and me. But we don’t want to be his disciple!
Carl B Garner — (www.ds-churchofchrist.org)