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Being and Making Disciples

Posted by donna on November 7, 2013

Disciple: What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?

The word disciple occurs 269 times in the New Testament while it must be noted that the word Christian occurs only 3 times, and believer only twice. The Holy Spirit prompted the writers to define the one who is a follower of Jesus primarily as a disciple.  We can deduce from this fact that there was never meant to be a distinction between a believer in Jesus and a disciple of Jesus. Rather, the one who believes must by their very nature and level of commitment be a disciple who follows Jesus.

The Greek word for disciple is Mathetes, which simply means “one who learns” or “one who follows.”  John describes a true disciple in John 6:60-69. One day, after seeing many followers fall away, Jesus asked His disciples: "You do not want to go away also, do you?” He was asking them if they will remain as true disciples. Simon Peter answered for the group, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

The characteristics of a disciple are not just being a follower, or even just believing, but rather becoming like the Master Teacher. In the language of Jesus (Luke 8:5-15) there were those who followed but fell away quickly. There were those that followed and believed for a season, but did not endure. Then we see there were true disciples that followed, believed the words they heard and committed themselves to Christ, becoming like Him in every way. These disciples were fruitful in their obedience and by their actions.  They became true ‘Christians’ which simply means "little Christs." They emulated and took on the very nature of the Master.  This is why in the earliest century of the Church the believers were called "People of the Way." Which Way? ...  Jesus’ Way.  Whose Way? ...  Jesus’ Way.  Jesus said: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”(John 14:6).

There is a cost involved in being a disciple. That cost is totally surrendering to Christ and becoming, as it were, like Him. It is not enough to simply believe. It is not enough to simply believe and follow from a distance.  Rather, it is to believe, to follow and to become like Jesus. To be a disciple we must be obedient to the truth of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done and what Jesus has taught.  Jesus said, "He who has My commandments, and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him and disclose Myself to him" (John 14:21).  Do we truly love Christ? ... if so, we are His disciples.

May God bless you as you pray this month,


Bill Fietje


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