What is a disciple?
I would like to suggest that a disciple is a person who accepts Jesus call to follow Him by faith and is obedient to His command to go and make other disciples. “Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:16-18). While faith in Jesus is essential to salvation it is the entrance to the path of discipleship rather than the final destination. “Discipleship begins with belief, but that is only the beginning. A disciple obeys the rabbi’s teaching. A Christian disciple not only believes Jesus is the Messiah but also is passionately devoted to doing what the rabbi (Jesus) commands” (Ray Vander Laan). In His final word to His original disciples Jesus commanded them to go and make other disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). Therefore, we should not be surprised that the word disciple is used more than 250 times in the New Testament. In fact, the New Testament is a story of disciples who made other disciples who turned the world upside down for Jesus.
A disciple walks as Jesus walked
The Apostle John wrote “Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:4-6). That last phrase “walk in the same way in which he walked” is enough to make any Christian, immature or mature, tremble in their boots. If you feel like you’ll never be able to become a passionate and committed follower of Jesus then don’t be discouraged, you’re in good company. In the first century, a Jewish man who desired to become a disciple would approach a rabbi and ask him for the opportunity to study with him. The rabbi would get to know the potential disciple, test him, and evaluate him based on his knowledge, commitment, and other desirable qualities. They would live together 24 hours a day—walking from place to place, teaching and learning, studying and working. They discussed and memorized the Scriptures and applied them to life. The rabbi would then accept or reject him as his disciple.
You can be a disciple of Jesus
In contrast, Jesus personally chose each of His disciples who were mostly fishermen. This reveals to us that they were not considered good enough- intellectually and academically- to be considered worthy candidates to become future rabbis. Fishing was probably not their first career choice but the result of failure in Rabbinical training. Jesus choice to personally select these guys reminds us that He believed that they had potential when no one else did and similarly Jesus sees potential in you to become His disciple. Therefore, it is not true that you cannot be His disciple! Jesus is not looking for perfection as much as He is looking for availability, obedience, and passion.
Discipleship is not easy
This does not mean that discipleship will be easy! There is a cost involved in following Jesus. He said “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). Becoming a disciple of Jesus will stretch you far beyond your human capabilities and take you far beyond your expectations. Just look at Peter as an example. He was so determined to become like Jesus that he was willing to get out of a boat and walk on water to be with Jesus. Do you think that was easy? Do you think that he actually thought that he could walk on water? He was a fisherman and he knew what happened to objects when they entered the water!
A disciple “comes” and “goes”
In these two commissions (Mark 1:16-18; Matthew 28:18-20), Jesus called each of His own to a life of discipleship. “Come”, He invites. “Go”, He commands. And His disciples did both. I don’t know at which place you’re at in your life’s journey, but Jesus stands calling out to you to follow Him as your Savior. He loves you and demonstrated the fullness of that love on a wooden cross where He died in your place paying your sin-debt with His own blood (Romans 5:8). Or perhaps you’ve already made the decision to follow Him by faith but you’re living a life governed by your old self right now. Jesus calls to you to deny yourself, take up your cross today, and to go into the world and make His Word and glory known to them.
Will you accept His invitation to become His disciple? Will you come in faith to the Savior and will you go and tell others about the message of the cross?”