Following Jesus – Can I be a disciple?
Once you have made the decision to follow Jesus, you can become one of His disciples. The word disciple actually means to learn or follow. You may be thinking that you are not good enough or worthy to become a disciple of Jesus. But the Bible tells us that He loves us all equally as Peter says in Acts 10:34-36,
I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts people from every nation who fear [honour] him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
Following Jesus doesn't mean we are without trials. In fact, a great many followers of Jesus have suffered tremendous persecutions. Paul addresses this in 2 Corinthians 12:1-9. He said,
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That is why I take pleasure in my weaknesses and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
God can demonstrate strength, care and loving kindness through our worst times. And He says that trials make us stronger. But as His follower, we now have Jesus to help us, guide us, and comfort us through our difficulties - large and small. Following Jesus brings comfort and reward beyond our comprehension.
Christian Discipleship - Fulfilling the Great Commission
Christian discipleship is summed up in the Great Commission. After the resurrection and before He ascended into heaven, Jesus appeared one last time to His disciples (they were eleven in number at that time, since Judas Iscariot had betrayed Jesus and hanged himself). This is the moment that He delivered the famous calling for disciples known as The Great Commission:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18b-20)
Christian discipleship continued to grow when the followers of Jesus gathered in Jerusalem and Peter outlined criteria for selecting a twelfth disciple to replace Judas Iscariot. The Scripture says they drew lots and the lot fell to Matthias. These men, who had previously been disciples, or followers of Jesus, were now to become apostles, or messengers. Their intention was to spread the Word, and beginning with Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came and indwelt them for the first time, they did! (See Acts 1 and 2)
Christian Discipleship - The Transformation Process
Christian discipleship is more than being a believer - it's about being a follower! Once we make a decision for Christ, then just like Andrew, John and Peter, we must become His disciples and follow Him. Have you chosen to follow Christ? If so, then you are a modern-day Christian disciple! "But I can't learn personally from Jesus like they did!" you might say. Oh, but you can!
Thanks to the faithfulness of those apostles, who clearly understood their role as messengers of Christ, we have their gospels and letters to go by. Later, when Paul was added to their number (by virtue of his Road to Damascus encounter with the risen Christ), he wrote letters to all the churches he helped create. These books and letters became the New Testament and, unlike those first disciples, we have a written record of Christ's instructions.
Christian Discipleship - The Short Course in a Long Journey
Christian discipleship begins when you make an active choice to get to know Jesus better. By God's grace, it is then accomplished in several ways:
- You can study His Word daily and spend time alone with Him in prayer.
- You can become a member of a church fellowship.
- You can seek out the companionship of other Christians who are growing with Christ.
- You can participate in ministry and meet the needs of other believers.
- You can share what you're learning about Christ with others, just like Andrew, James, John, Luke, Matthew, Peter, Paul and all the original disciples did.
Like those first twelve, you too can be a believer who becomes a follower and messenger!