Jesus called people to become his “disciples” at the beginning of His ministry and told those disciples to go and make more disciples at the end of His ministry three years later. What exactly is a disciple though.
The short answer:
A disciple is a student or apprentice who follows, learns from, and imitates a master or teacher.
The more in-depth answer:
Some of you are probably happy with the short answer… why go further? Because there are two parts to any kind of work: the Philosophy and the Praxis.
The Philosophy of your work answers what you do and why you do it. Your philosophy includes your purpose, your mission, and your vision. Doing things for the right reason is as important as doing them in the right way. Jesus taught that not everyone who claimed to be His disciple or did miraculous things were truly His own.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
So then, what is the purpose of being a disciple of Jesus? Many teachers point to scriptures that succinctly point out that it is to be like Jesus. I for one, am not satisfied with that answer and some of the circular logic behind it. That’s like saying an Elvis impersonator has the purpose of being like Elvis – which is inherently true, but does not give a person any motivation to become an Elvis imprersonator, or a disciple of Jesus. King Louis may have wanted to be like Mogli when he first met the boy in the Jungle Book, but that does not mean that Peter, Andrew, James, and John sang that song from the fishing boat when Jesus walked by that fateful day.
Jesus, somewhat poetically spelled out His philosophy – His purpose, mission, and vision at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount:
““Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:3-16 NIV
The motivation… the reason Peter and his fellow fishermen followed Jesus, was to be a part of the Kingdom of God, to be comforted, to receive righteousness, to be shown mercy, to see God, and to become children of God. They followed and imitated Jesus to receive all of that themselves and so that God, their heavenly Father, would receive glory.
- Are you a disciple of Jesus?
- Why do you follow and imitate Him?