What is the definition of a disciple?- The word "disciple"comes from the Greek word manthano. Greek language authorities define the term as "to learn, appropriate to oneself, best through instruction and through experience or practice". According to Webster, a disciple is a pupil, follower, or learner.
Jesus stated, "A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher".(Luke 6:40)
Discipling involves a relationship of respect, learning, submission and teachability. The ultimate goal is to change behavior. Those who grow and mature will become more like the discipler or teacher.
Jesus took his selected men, invested time in their lives and discipled them. His goal with them was to make them more like Him, more Christlike. He spent three years with them, pointing them by word and example to His Father. Jesus is the master disciple. Our teacher, our mentor.
In John 13, Jesus laid aside the robe designating Him as rabbi, took up a towel and fulfilled the role of a servant by washing the disciples feet. What an example, a pattern for us to follow. He wants us do do as He had done. Have you washed anyoneís feet lately? Are you greater than the Master?
What was part of Jesus mission in coming to earth? Please turn to John 17:4. And Jesus said, I have glorified You on earth. I have finished the work which You have given me to do". What is Jesus saying here? Most people tend to relate this work to the Cross and His earlier statement," The hour has come." Yet there seems to be a clear contrast in tense between the past "I have finished your work you gave me to do", and the work He is about to undertake in "The hour has come." Do you think this work could have been the work He had accomplished with His disciples?
Please read on further in John 14 as Jesus prayed to His Father in Heaven, knowing His disciples were listening in. Specifically look at John 17:6- I have manifested your name to the men(example). Vs. 8.- I have given them the words(the gospel).
Vs. 9- I pray for them(interceding). Vs. 12- I keep them in your name. Vs. 18- I have sent them into the world. Was a part of His work here on earth to gather twelve men that were committed totally to Him and disciple them? Make them as much like Him as possible? To send them forth to represent and serve Him?
The Savior is not looking for men and women who will give their spare evenings to Him- or their weekends- or their years of retirement. Rather, He seeks those who will give Him first place in their lives. (William McDonald-True Discipleship)
What kind of commitment does this kind of discipleship take? In Luke 14:26, Jesus said, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple."
What exactly did Jesus mean by this statement? Was He advocating hostility toward parents, abusive anger, or indifference toward spouse, children and family?
Of course not. Jesus was placing an emphasis on the intensity of relationship, the degree of commitment. His message is consistent with His message elsewhere in the Gospels. A true disciple is one who loves Jesus more than anyone or anything. Our loving relationship with the Son of God must reign supreme, overshadowing all human relationships. Clearly we are to demonstrate our love in all our human relationships just as Jesus encouraged his disciples to do in John 13:34-35 and as He commanded us when He told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus is saying in Luke 14:26 that the ultimate degree of love is to be seen in our relationship with Christ.
In Matt. 16:24- "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me." We are to follow Jesus at all times. Following Him is to be our highest priority, More important than what we want or desire for ourselves. Jesus wants us to be just like Him. To humbly and willingly suffer dishonor and reproach as He did. Jesus said, If they persecute me, they will persecute you." Are you willing to identify with Christ even if it brings suffering and shame or persecution?
Are we all called to be disciples?-
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32)
Acts 11:26.........And the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
Does this mean they stopped being disciples and started being Christians?
Matt. 28:18-20 - And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
The emphasis of this passage is not on going but on teaching, on making disciples who will go and teach others. The process of discipling includes reaching out to those who do not know Him, winning them to the faith, and then instructing them in Godís Word.
"As the Father sent Me, I also send you."(John 20-21)
Are you called to be a disciple? - "Many are called but few are chosen."(Matt. 20:16) God knows those who will respond to His calling. These are the chosen ones, the ones He has predestinated to become His disciples to learn His ways.
"For consider your calling, brethern, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong."(I Cor. 1:26-27)
If you desire to follow Jesus, regardless of how spiritually weak you are, then rest assured that you are one of Godís chosen ones.
How will others know you are a disciple? - "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love for one another. John 13:34-35)
Discipleship is a way of life, a way of living, a way of loving that leads to life-changing patterns in ourselves and others./Ollie