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Being a true disciple
I have been thinking a lot about being a disciple lately
and what it really means to follow Jesus. I decided to
look up my Bible software and see how the New Testament
describes followers as Jesus. I found that it used the
term disciples 282 times, believers 26 times and
Christians only 3 times. This got me thinking about the
terms disciple, believer and Christian.
Being the Bible geek that I am, I decided to look up the
Greek words used for disciple in the New Testament too.
One is math-ay-tes this means learner or pupil. The other
is math-ayt-yoo-o this talks about being a student or a
pupil, but also a teacher too. It is about learning and
also passing it on to others.
Today I want to have a look at what the Bible says about
being a disciple and what things are expected from a true
follower of Christ. Here are some of the things.
1. A true disciple is willing to follow the call to
When Jesus called the first disciples we see that He came
and saw the fisherman by the lake in Mark 1:17-18. He
simply said to them to, Come and follow MeŁ. We see that
they heard the call, received it and simply left
everything to follow. He called them to be His followers
In New Testament times a disciple was someone who wanted
to learn from another person. You could become a disciple
of a Rabbi, a Craftsman or a Philosopher. The learner
would attached themselves to the person and learn the
particular skill. Often the pupil had to beg over a period
of time to be the apprenticeŁ. If accepted, they would
watch, learn, practice and eventually do it by themselves.
When the skill was fully transferred they would go on
This was very different to Jesus He chose His disciples,
not the other way around! He turned the whole process
upside down when He chose His disciples!
As we have seen, being a disciple was about connecting
with someone else to learn their ways. This is how it was
for the 12 disciples that Jesus called at the beginning of
His public ministry. They stayed with Him for three and a
half years. The watched, learnt and were sent out to do
Being a disciple of Jesus is about committing to a way of
life and of learning and growth. It goes past just
believing in something, it is more about learning to
follow and to heading in a new direction full steam ahead.
2. A true disciple wants to be part of God's plan for
The Bible tells us that God has a plan and purpose for
each of our lives and a disciple of Christ knows and
understands this. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:10, For we
are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good
works, which God prepared in advance for us to doŁ. The
NLT says, You are God's masterpieceŁ. This verse tells us
that God has a great plan and purpose for our lives. He
has a destiny that He planned for us before the world was
Because of this plan He has created us with certain gifts
and abilities so we can play our part in it. Just imagine
that we could have been born at any time in history, but
God chose for us to be born now. We are not here by chance
and we are not living at this time in history with no
purpose. God has a plan and purpose for each of us and it
is a great one! When we deliberately seek out God's plan
for our life and play our part in it, we find ourselves
being the most happy and fulfilled as we can be in this
life. Finding and following God's plan is a big part of
being a true disciple.
3. A true disciple loves and accepts others like Christ
In John 13:34-35 Jesus says, A new command I give you:
Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love
one another. By this all men will know that you are my
disciples, if you love one another.Ł A true disciple
should love God and love others.
It is interesting when we look at the life of Jesus, we
see that He loved and cared for all types of people. Here
are a few examples of the different groups of people Jesus
spent time with. The Sadducees, Pharisees, Herodians,
Romans, Zealots, Samaritans. Jesus also had followers who
were women which was unheard of for religious leaders of
His time. He welcomed children. Combine this with Jesus
spending time with social outcasts of the day like tax
collectors, prostitutes and lepers shows that Jesus was a
Saviour for all people. He didn't discriminate. He just
genuinely loved and cared for people, no matter whom they
were or what they had done.
Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on
them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep
without a shepherdŁ. Loving others the Jesus way means
opening ourselves up to others and to want what is best
for them. It means being willing to come along side them
and help them if the need arises. It is interesting that
it says people will know we belong to Christ because of
the love we show to others. A true disciple loves people
like Jesus did.
4. A true disciple shares their resources to help
In this life we have a choice to spend our money how we
please. We can choose to save it and spend it all on
ourselves or we can see ourselves as stewards of God's
resources. One of the great examples we see from the early
church in Acts 4:32-37. We see that the community of
believers shared their possessions and sold some things so
others would not go without the basics of life.
They understood what the Apostle Paul said in Galatians
6:10, Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to
all people, especially to those who belong to the family
of believersŁ. We should really look out for each other
and not just see this life and my journey, but our journey
together. A true disciple sees the world and its needs
through God's eyes and uses their resources accordingly. A
true disciple knows to store up their treasures in heaven
as it tells us in Matthew 6.
5. A true disciple helps others to follow Christ
In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus tells us to go and make
disciples. This is the last words of Jesus before He
returned to heaven. We are told to make Disciples, not
Christians. As we saw earlier a disciple who is someone
who is committed to a journey of learning, service and
growth. We are called to help others start the journey of
faith and life in Christ to be disciples.
A true disciple knows how great it is to know, love and
serve Christ and they want to help others to follow Him
too. For me personally, the day I became a Christian is
the greatest day of my life. Knowing Jesus personally and
asking Him into my life was a true turning point for me.
My life was good, but I lacked a sense of purpose or real
meaning. Now my life is full of hope, purpose and meaning
and I want to share this with others. I also want to share
the great love Jesus has for others too.
6. True disciples are known by
Jesus and do the Father's will
In Matthew 7:21-23 there is a section titled, "True
disciples" in the NLT Bible. It says, "Not everyone who
calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!'' will enter the Kingdom of
Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father
in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me,
"Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out
demons in your name and performed many miracles in your
name." But I will reply, "I never knew you. Get away from
me, you who break God's laws."
As I read this section of Scripture two things spring to
mind. The first is that being a true follower of Jesus is
about being obedient to the Father's will. Secondly, being
a true follower of Jesus is about relationship. Jesus'
words "I never knew you" shows us that it is possible to
do good works and not be in relationship with Him. I can
have an intellectual knowledge of God and copy what other
ministers do and get good results, but a personal
relationship might not exist. True disciples are obedient
to the Father's will and are in an ongoing personal
relationship with the Son.
As true disciples of Jesus Christ our heart attitude
should be that of a humble servant who loves God and loves
others. They should try their very best to live their
lives in the same way that Christ lived His. A true
disciple should try to live out Jesus' teachings in a way
that blesses others and gives them a chance to follow
Jesus themselves. And finally a true disciple is known by
Jesus and is obedient to the Father's will.
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