(Continuation from the previous blog)- So far we have seen that true disciples of Jesus are learners, they are submissive to Christ (and to authorities), and are bearing fruit. Being a disciple of Jesus also means:
- Loving God and his people–
By sending the disciples out to preach, Jesus was giving them opportunity to share God’s love to people. The calling the disciples received was also a calling to herald the love of God. When Jesus saw the crowd he had compassion over them, they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he told His disciples that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few and that the disciples should ask the Lord of the harvest to sent out workers into his harvest field. He then sends them out to preach the gospel.
Jesus had taught them what love is. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another– Jn13:34-35.
Jesus taught his disciples what love is. The service of a disciple of Jesus was to be characterized by love. It is because of love and compassion that he told them to go and heal people of their sicknesses, casting out demons, raising the death, and cleansing the lepers. When a disciple leads he does not lord over others but serves like a servant. He serves by leading and leads by serving.
Small actions of love make a great difference.
- It means imitating Christ- the Master
Disciples are known for the imitation of their teachers. The call of every disciple of Jesus is also a call to follow after the Master- Jesus Christ. The calling of disciples by Jesus as recorded in Mark was twofold, he appointed the twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons-Mk 3:14-12. The time they spent with Jesus was a life-changing moment. It is in this close relationship that he revealed to them the secret things of God. Jesus modeled that disciples are servants.
The goal of being a disciple is to become like the teacher. A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher- Lk 6:40. John writes in his epistle, whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did- 1 Jn 2:6. To know the Father is to walk as Jesus did. Paul urged believers in Ephesus to imitate Christ, Eph 5:1. Paul said of himself: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me– Gal 2:20.
The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch, outside Jerusalem. People saw Christ in them- Acts 11:26. As we behold on Christ, the author and perfector of our faith, we become transformed inward out and become like Him. In the words of John the Baptist, He must become greater, I must become less-Jn 3:30
- Counting the cost- Many people want to be associated with Christianity but are not ready to consider the cost. Following Christ comes with a cost. It means following one master and forsaking other masters. It means living in oppposition to world values. It involves carrying your own cross. This is not easy. One has to be ready to surrender all and laying down all at the feet of Jesus. The disciples of Jesus who were later referred to as apostles suffered persecution rejection, and suffering in obedience to the will of their Master. One must be ready to suffer, Mat 10:34-37; Lk 14:25-27. It is a life of denial.
- It means proclaiming the imminence of the kingdom of God-
The disciples of Jesus were told to go out and proclaim that the kingdom of God is near. It is not like the kingdom of this world. This kingdom was inaugurated during the incarnation of Jesus and at the Pentecost when the church was founded. The church is not the kingdom but a witness to the kingdom. The casting of demons, healing ministry of Jesus revealed that the kingdom of God has come. This kingdom has come in part and awaits final revelation during parousia (second coming of Jesus). It is a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. It is a kingdom of power and glory. The disciples of Jesus proclaim the coming and the nearness of this kingdom. The church serves a central role. The ‘delay’ of the full manifestation of this kingdom means an opportunity for sinners to repent.
True disciples of Christ will seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness. They make disciples of all nations.