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What does it really mean to be a Disciple?

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Luke 9:23 – “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him…..take up his cross daily, and follow me


To be a disciple of Jesus is to be a follower of Jesus.  In Mark 2:14, Jesus called out to Matthew, “Follow Me!”  Understanding this phrase will help us to get a better picture of what it means to follow Christ.  To follow Jesus means “to walk the same road,” and implies that we are to continue in that walk.  As Jesus’ disciples we are to walk the same road with Him in a consistent, ongoing fashion.  The phrase “follow me” may be better translated “follow with me”.  In other words, Jesus promises to be our companion and our friend as we continually and consistently walk the same road with Him.


To be a disciple of Jesus is to be a fruit bearer.  John 15:8 – “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”  If you are a true disciple, you will continue to bear fruit.  Why were we created?  John 15:16:  “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain.”  From this passage it is clear that as a result of knowing and loving God, we will then bear fruit – fruit that will last.  But what exactly is this fruit that Jesus desires in our lives?  We find the answer in Galations 5:22, which says that the fruit of the Spirit is love, which then demonstrates itself though such attributes as joy, peace, and longsuffering.  Bitterness, hatred, animosity toward others will be replaced by the love of God, shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.


To be a disciple of Jesus you will study and obey God’s word.  John 8:31 – “If you abide (continue) (one’s dwelling place) in my Word, you are my disciples indeed”.  Disciples of Jesus will be students of Scripture and will walk according to it’s teachings.  Abiding is not simply walking with and serving the Lord when it is easy, convenient, or popular.  When we abide in Christ we remain in fellowship with Him daily, regardless of outward circumstances or inner emotions.


To be a disciple of Jesus you will love one another – John 13:35 – “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”

As a true disciple, your life will not only be characterized by practical results and a hunger for scripture, but you will also have love for others, especially those who are fellow Christians.  Without all of these characteristics you cannot really claim to be His disciple.


In our pursuit to become disciples, we make decisions every day that will either encourage or discourage our spiritual growth.  When we get up in the morning it’s either the newspaper or the Bible, and later in the day it might be a choice between going to church and going to the movies.   In dealing with others, we choose to forgive or to harbor a grudge.  We choose to pray or to worry.  With each choice we will either progress or regress, advance or retreat, in our quest to be His disciples.


It is amazing to see how much care and cultivation it takes to make flowers grow.  You spend hours pulling weeds, driving out snails, and feeding the soil.  It is necessary for their growth.  But have you ever noticed how quickly and easily weeds can sprout up and take over?  It seems a weed can bloom in the middle of a street or crack in the sidewalk.  Without any caretaker or special watering a weed does just fine.  But the delicate, vulnerable flowers require constant attention.


That is a classic illustration of the contrast between the believer’s new nature and his old nature.  If we want to be closer to Christ and live a life that is pleasing to Him, we need to cultivate and nurture our new nature.  The moment we stop strengthening and building up the new nature, the old one comes back to haunt us – just like that weed growing in the street.  It takes very little encouragement for our old nature to cause us trouble.  All we need to do is neglect the new nature.  The Bible says – “Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”  Galations 5:16.


These are principles that every believer must maintain if he wants to live this Christian life as it is meant to be lived.  Which nature are we nurturing in our lives: in our families, in our churches, in our workplace?  May the Lord help us to learn what it means to be his disciple.