A Disciple of Christ
In Matthew 4, when Jesus began His ministry, He preached a message of “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” There was a great urgency to His words, words that would bring great regret if they were ignored. Seeing Peter and Andrew, who were going about their everyday duties of fishing; Christ said to them “Repent and follow Me.” Peter and Andrew quickly left their nets to follow Him. What a change in the direction of that day and ultimately their lives, a willingness shown here to leave all that was familiar to them, and leave the security of their livelihood.
The question which comes to mind is this, “What does becoming a disciple of Christ mean today?” There are certainly many sermons and lessons taught about coming to Christ, about believing, about committing, and so forth. Later in Matthew 9, Jesus now has selected The Twelve, and they are sent out into the world into the harvest. Christ warns them that they would be only a few among the many. Earlier in that same chapter, Jesus displays great compassion when He walks among the multitudes, teaching the disciples that this is how they are to see those outside of Christ. Jesus even warns them in chapter 10, that they would be like sheep among wolves; therefore they would need to understand that there would be a great cost to being a disciple. To be able to fulfill such a commitment, they would have to love Him even more than their own families, but promises that if they were willing to lose their very lives, they would actually find them.
In Mark 8, Jesus tells Peter that he needed to place God’s interests above his own; in fact Jesus told Peter that he must deny himself. He also reminded Peter of the great emphasis that ought to placed upon the soul, rather than on those things that are temporal. He warns them of the danger of being ashamed of Him, reminding them that there will be a day when the Father will return with His holy angels. In Luke 5, when Jesus tells Peter, Andrew, James, and John to again put down their nets into the water after fishing all night with nothing to show for it, they enjoy a great catch! Beginning to understand the power and authority of Christ, Peter is immediately is confronted with his own sinfulness. In the next chapter of Luke, Jesus teaches the twelve that they are to show mercy and that they are to do good to even those who have mistreated them. He also reminds them of their great need to learn from Him, as students learning from the Teacher. This places a great need for the student to be humble, to be willing to learn, and to listen to the Teacher with great expectation. These are qualities that were first needed to be learned before there would be effective teaching to others.
Others came to Christ as well, and He immediately warned them that He had no particular place to call His home. One man, who wanted to follow Christ, asked if he could first say good-bye to his family; to which Christ replied, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Commitment to Christ must require single-mindedness and a great determination to persevere. Later in Luke 14, Jesus shows kindness to those who were less fortunate. Teaching His disciples, he again focuses on the cost of discipleship by stating that they must have an impact in the world. He compared the ineffective disciple to that of salt that had lost its saltiness, saying that it was worthless.
In the gospel of John, again giving an example of humbleness, Jesus washes the disciples’ feet in chapter 13. He says to the Twelve, “Do you know what I have done for you?” He tells them that since He their Teacher, is willing to wash their feet, they ought to be willing to wash each other’s feet; in other words, willingness to do what the Master has done. He reminds them that the student is not greater than his master. Following these lessons Jesus informs them that he will soon be leaving; therefore there was the need for them to love one another. Later in chapter 15, Jesus tells them that only those who are attached to the vine are real disciples; therefore the only ones who would be able to bear real fruit. In fact, bearing fruit was the proof of true discipleship. He then returns to His teaching about love and states that real love is demonstrated by laying down one’s life for another, followed by a warning that they would be hated and persecuted by many, as He was.
A disciple of Christ! No wonder Paul told Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 – ESV) Paul also told the Corinthians in 1 Cor.15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.” Paul said, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love;” (Rom.12:9) John said, “Do not be surprised if the world hates you;” (1 John 3:13) and Peter said, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you.” (1 Pet.5:6)
A disciple of Christ? . . . is one who has repented of their sin and has committed to follow Jesus; leaving everything behind, with a willingness to follow the Master. He is characterized by love, compassion, humbleness, and fruit; being single-minded and unashamed; and possessing great perseverance and determination.
In John 17:17-19, Jesus has been praying for Himself and His disciples. Prior to praying for all believers, He prays that they would be sanctified in truth and states that the Father’s word is truth. He says that as He has been sent by the Father, so He sends them. Christ has laid down the example, saying that He has sanctified Himself. John MacArthur says that this means that Jesus set Himself apart totally for the Father’s will (MacArthur Study Bible – NASB 1585). May we be disciples who set ourselves apart to do the Father’s will!
“But you were washed, you were sanctified,
you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor.6:11b (ESV)
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