(How to…#3) be a disciple of Jesus Christ

November 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

This is the fifth part of “5 Groups of People Jesus Encountered“.

"Come ye after me..."

What most children of God don’t know is the fact that the twelve disciples were only chosen in the second year of Jesus’ ministry.

I was always under the impression that Jesus called His twelve disciples the moment He returned from His forty days of fasting.

However, in Luke chapter six where it indicates He spent the whole night in prayer before choosing the twelve Luke 6:12-13 disciples, Jesus had already been in His second year of ministry.

It is interesting to note in this passage of Scripture how He called all His disciples and then chose twelve.  We note from these verses as well as from others that He had more than twelve disciples Luke 10:1; John 6:66.

Therefore, the disciples were at first part of the crowd, maybe even an extended family member, or from those who had material or spiritual needs.  They followed Him for at least one year and began to adhere to His teachings. (Read 5 Groups of people…)

The word disciple in the Greek language (Mathētěs) means a learner and pupil.

  • *“Mathētěs means more in the NT than a mere pupil or learner.
  • It is an adherent who accepts the instructions given to him and makes it his rule of conduct, e.g., the disciples of John Matt 11:2; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33; 7:18; John 3:25 and the disciples of the Pharisees Matt 22:16; Mark 2:18.
  • In John 9:28, the Pharisees told the healed man, “Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciple”.
  • Jesus had disciples in the sense that they believed and made His teaching the basis of their conduct Matt 5:1; 9:19; 14:22; Luke 14:26, 27, 33; John 9:27; 15:8.
  • *(Zodhiates, S. Th.D. 1993. The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.)
  • According to Jesus a disciple can never be above his master, although he may be equal Luke 6:40.
  • From all the disciples who followed Him, He then chose twelve, whom also He named apostles Luke 6:13
  • The word apostle from the Greek language (Apóstolos); means sent forth and the verb (apostéllō) is to send forth.
  • Jesus said in John 13:16, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent (apóstolos) greater than he that sent him.”

You are first a disciple before you can be sent out to teach others.

The way you live life shows of whom or what you are a disciple of.  We may be a disciple of the  ways of this world, or of a political leader or an influential writer or orator.  The early Christians were first called disciples before they were named Christians, “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” Acts 11:26

When we look at the forming processes of the disciples of Jesus, we note three specific progressive experiences.

Firstly, we get the general information stage.

This is where they are being taught in the form of parables, stories, and lessons with the concomitant explanations of it.  In the Gospels we find the disciples being part of the crowds learning from Jesus as well as in the private sessions of expounding with Jesus.

Matthew 13:34-36 (HCSB) Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables, and He would not speak anything to them without a parable, so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: I will open My mouth in parables; I will declare things kept secret from the foundation of the world.  Then He dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached Him and said, “Explain the parable of the weeds in the field to us.”

  • As we all know, information is no guarantee for anybody to change.
  • We are currently living in the Information Age where with the push of a button or the click of the mouse we have the latest news, weather reports, sport updates or any facts we require from databases all over the globe.
  • This however, does not necessarily promise a change in human behaviour.
  • For change to take place we need the accompanying actions, which instill and make the knowledge learnt part of our behaviour.

Secondly, Jesus knew to form and mould His disciples into genuine upright apostles, He had to send them out to go do what they have seen and heard.

We can know all the Scripture verses about healing, how to pray and lay hands on people and why the Lord will heal us.  But until you go out and do it, you will not have the practical experience of seeing the people healed and you being used by the Lord.

Mark 6:7-13 (NIV) Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.” They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

  • Being gradually changed from a disciple into an apostle – a sent out one – you have to act on what you have learnt.
  • Like the Apostle James says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:26

The third and last developmental experience in the forging process of a disciple is his own moment of enlightenment.

  • While engaging in the commission of what had been taught, he or she has their moment of revelation.
  • This revelation received while doing the instruction from the Master has a permanent effect on the life of the disciple.

We have such an example in the Gospel of Luke.  In chapter nine Jesus sent out the twelve.  Then He commissioned another seventy (some translations write seventy two) in chapter ten to go out and preach the kingdom message and heal the sick.  When returning to Jesus we read how they had such a moment of revelation, “The seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name!” Luke 10:17 AMP

  • The personal revelation received while doing the work, leads to the opportunity for further informative teaching, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are enrolled in heaven.” Luke 10:20 AMP

In the account of Matthew where Jesus sent out the twelve on their mission trip, He gave them also some instructions of where to go and what to do under certain circumstances. Coming to chapter ten and verses 38 and 39, He told them, “And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conforming wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also] is not worthy of Me.  Whoever finds his [lower] life will lose it [the higher life], and whoever loses his [lower] life on My account will find it [the higher life].”

  • Discipleship is following Him with all of your heart and mind and strength.
  • It is a decision that each child of God  has to make one or another time.

We may be part of the crowd, or the needy, or maybe even have some Pharisaic moments in our lives, but at some moment in time you will hear the call for a closer walk with Him (Matt 4:19). It is the call to be His disciple – putting extra time into knowing Him, hearing from Him and obeying His commands.

It is a decision which should not be taken lightly for, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things behind] is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

  • To be a Believer – one who believes Jesus Christ is the Son of God, raised from the dead – does not imply the person is a disciple of Jesus Christ.
  • Many people believed Jesus was the Messiah, even wanted to crown Him King. John 6:15
  • But not all were willing to adhere to His teachings and follow Him as a disciple. John 6:66
  • As the Apostle James says; “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” James 2:19
  • Being made whole or delivered does not suggest you are a disciple.  You are only a healed/delivered child of God.
  • We do not find Jesus praying for His disciples but rather teaching them how to pray. Matt 6:5-15; Luke 11:1-4
  • He did not heal them but sent them to heal, cast out devils and raise the dead.
  • Being in close contact with Jesus gave them comfort, security and spiritual edification.
  • When we heed to this call, we are joining the group of servant-labourers in the kingdom of God. Matt 9:37; Luke 10:2; 1Cor 3:9
  • From being a disciple, some are then chosen to go and do greater work for God’s kingdom. Luke 6:13 KJV; Matt 22:14 KJV

In the words of Jesus, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” Luke 10:2

Being a disciple means giving up your own ideas and way-of-doing things and learn the Master’s way in every area of one’s life. Matt 6:33; 10:38-39; John 6:68

Being a disciple means applying the lessons learnt, until it becomes a lifestyle. Mark 6:7-13; James 5:14-15; Acts 4:20; 22:15; Phil 4:9 1John 1:3

Being a disciple means not getting offended when corrected, reprimanded or even rebuked. Matt 16:23; Luke 9:55; 10:20

Being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ leads to Christ-likeness (a Christian). (cts 11:26; Gal 1:15-16

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About Edgar Phillips
Husband, Dad, Ordained Minister and Missionary who loves God, Pastoral & Functional Therapist, Imago Professional Facilitator, EFT practitioner.

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