Discipleship is firstly a commitment to Jesus: to be with him, learn from him, and conform our lives to him. For this reason a disciple is always wise to fasten his heart to the teachings of Jesus in John chapter 15. For there is no life apart from he who said:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV)
Through a daily abiding life we will experience the call to come under everything Jesus taught us verbally and in his life example. When the first disciples received their final commission from their Rabbi, he instructed them to teach others “to observe all things that I have commanded you;” – Matthew 28:20a NKJV. Renowned New Testament scholar and discipleship expert Dr. Michael Wilkins sheds light on comprehensiveness of this instruction saying,
“Jesus is not pointing to particular commands but rather to the full explication in his life and ministry for disciples. All that Jesus communicated by word of mouth is included in his commands, whether they are teachings, proverbs, blessings, parables or prophecies. …All disciples, new and mature, are to look at Jesus’ authoritative life and words in this Gospel – indeed, throughout Scripture – and they must be taught to obey it, follow it, and practice it in their own lives.”
While taking all of Jesus’ life, teachings, and influence to heart is vital for all disciples, it is helpful to summarize Jesus’ vision for those who would be his disciples.
A disciple is one who:
Is willing to deny self, take up a cross daily, and follow Him (Luke 9:23)
Puts Christ before self, family, and possessions (Luke 14:25-35)
Is committed to Christ’s teachings (John 8:31)
Is committed to world evangelism (Matthew 9:36-38)
Loves others as Christ loves (John 13:34-35)
Abides in Christ, is obedient, bears fruit, glorifies God, has joy, and loves the brethren (John 15:7-17)
If a person is not willing to make such commitments, Jesus declares emphatically three times, “He cannot be my disciple” (see Luke 14:26-27, 33).
The disciple of Jesus Christ will grow in obedience to him by keeping all of these commands. He or she will not be perfect, but the objective to live in these truths will always be at the forefront. In fact, this helpful summary would be worth copying and placing in strategic locations where you will often be reminded of what a following faith looks like!
Will 2013 be a year where you begin to embrace Jesus’ clear call to a life of discipleship? Where you are becoming self-initiating, reproducing, and fully devoted to him? I pray that it will be for all of us.