Discipleship 101

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” This is the call the Lord made to men who ultimately left all their belongings and began to follow Him. Over the next three years, what these men gained would turn the world upside-down. These men were disciples of Jesus Christ. However, Jesus didn’t say “Come be my disciple.” His words were simply “Follow me.” What is a disciple?

A Student

A disciple is a person who has made an intentional decision to set aside their views or practices to follow another. When we hear the word disciple, we tend to think of the twelve men who walked and followed Jesus, however, there were also other disciples around just as there are other disciples today. For example, John the baptizer had disciples who later followed Jesus (Acts 19:3). Moses had disciples in his day and also in the days of Jesus (John 9:28). A follower is one that has committed to obey and practice whatever is being taught by their leader.

It is more like a student in this sense. A student under his teacher’s instruction will listen to what the teacher says and conform their thinking according to the teaching. Not only will they listen to the teaching but are willing to act upon what they are being taught. This is a follower by definition. A student who learns and acts upon their instructor’s teaching can also be classified as an apprentice.

An Apprentice

Anyone who will actively learn and act on what they are being trained on can be classified as an apprentice. An apprentice is one who learns from skilled leaders in a certain area and has agreed to learn the trade. When Jesus called the fishermen to leave their nets and follow Him, they were leaving their daily occupation of fishing for fish to another occupation of fishing for men. The work of the Lord is truly work and Jesus promised that if anyone would work the work of the Father, he will be taken care of by the Father (Matthew 6:33). 

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

Matthew 16:24

Once A Disciple, Always A Disciple?

There is also another side of the coin. All are called, but not all will respond to the call. If someone has answered yes to following Jesus, that is only the beginning. Following Jesus requires a life long commitment. If you choose to stop following Him, you choose to stop being His disciple. When Jesus walked the earth, He challenged some who stopped believing and when they were confronted, they turned, “left, and would no longer walk with Him” (John 6:66). A disciple is one who chooses to follow and obey the teachings of their leader. Once a person stops obeying the teaching, they cease to follow the instructions, thus are no longer a disciple.

In Closing

To be a disciple, we must not only learn from the teacher but also obey the teacher. The call of Jesus is a call to obedience. He said in one place, “…Why do you call me Lord, and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). In another place, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” (Luke 6:40). We are students in the school of life, training under our master and teacher, Jesus so that we can be like our Master. Amen

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