Discipleship is an essential part of the Christian faith, emphasizing a deep and committed relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In its simplest form, discipleship involves following Jesus, learning from Him, and becoming more like Him in every aspect of life. The Bible provides us with numerous examples of discipleship, from the disciples who walked with Jesus during His earthly ministry to the many individuals throughout history who have dedicated their lives to following and serving Him. Today, discipleship is still essential for believers to grow in their faith, to learn how to serve others, and to spread the message of the Gospel to a world in need. This process of discipleship often involves personal relationships, mentorship, and intentional community, where believers can come together to learn from one another, pray for one another, and encourage one another in their walk with Christ. In this sense, discipleship is not just a personal journey, but a communal one that involves the entire body of Christ. Through discipleship, believers can deepen their relationship with Jesus, become more like Him, and impact the world for His glory.
Discipleship is a term used to describe the process of becoming a disciple, or follower, of Jesus Christ. It involves not only learning from Jesus, but also becoming like Him and sharing His message with others. The concept of discipleship has its roots in the Bible, where Jesus chose twelve men to be His disciples and sent them out to share His teachings with others. These twelve men were chosen specifically by Jesus and had a unique opportunity to walk alongside Him, witness His miracles, and learn from Him firsthand.
Today, the practice of discipleship remains an important part of the Christian faith. It involves not only studying and understanding the teachings of Jesus, but also putting them into practice in our daily lives. Discipleship is not just about acquiring knowledge; it is about transformation. It requires a willingness to let go of our old ways and to be shaped and molded by God into the person He wants us to be.
As we look at the lives of the disciples, we can see how their encounters with Jesus changed them in profound ways. They went from being ordinary men to being leaders of a movement that would change the world. They were transformed by their experiences with Jesus, and this transformation allowed them to fulfill the purpose that God had for their lives.
In the same way, discipleship today can be a life-changing experience. It requires us to be open to the work of God in our lives, and to be willing to let go of our own desires and plans in order to follow Him. It involves not only learning from Jesus, but also allowing His teachings to shape our thoughts, actions, and attitudes. By doing so, we can become the kind of people that God wants us to be and fulfill the purpose that He has for our lives.
Matthew, also known as Levi, was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. Before his encounter with Jesus, Matthew was a tax collector, a despised and hated profession among the Jews. However, when Jesus passed by Matthew's tax booth, he called him to follow him, and Matthew immediately left his old life behind to become a disciple of Christ. As an apostle, Matthew witnessed Jesus' teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection. He went on to write the Gospel of Matthew, one of the four Gospels in the New Testament, which recounts Jesus' life and teachings. Matthew's Gospel emphasizes Jesus' teachings and his fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, and it continues to be a significant source of inspiration and guidance for Christians today.
Matthew 4:21 – 22
Jesus calls two of his disciples, James, and John, as they were fishing with their father Zebedee. Jesus says to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Without hesitation, James and John leave their nets and their father behind and follow Jesus. This passage highlights the power and immediacy of Jesus' call. James and John were not seeking to become disciples, but Jesus' words were compelling enough for them to leave everything and follow him. James and John were brothers and among the closest disciples of Jesus. They were both fishermen before they were called to be disciples. Jesus nicknamed them "Sons of Thunder" due to their fiery and zealous personalities. James and John were part of Jesus' inner circle, along with Peter, and witnessed some of the most significant events of Jesus' ministry, such as the transfiguration. They also had a desire for positions of power and prestige, as they asked Jesus to sit at his right and left hand in his kingdom. However, as they grew in their faith, they came to understand that true greatness lies in serving others, as Jesus exemplified. James was the first of the disciples to be martyred, while John lived to be an old man and wrote several books of the New Testament. This passage also illustrates the nature of discipleship - it requires sacrifice, leaving behind one's old way of life, and following Jesus with total commitment.
John 1:35 - 42
Andrew and Simon Peter were brothers who were both fishermen and were among the first disciples chosen by Jesus. The passage begins with John the Baptist pointing out Jesus as the "Lamb of God." Andrew and another disciple, likely John himself, follow Jesus and ask where he is staying. Jesus invites them to come and see, and they spend the day with him. Andrew’s act of bringing his brother to Jesus shows his desire to share the good news of the Messiah with his own family. When Simon Peter meets Jesus, he receives a new name “Cephas” or “Peter” and a divine calling. Jesus saw something in Peter that no one else saw and had a specific plan for his life. Peter would become a significant figure in the early Church and his role as a foundation would play a crucial role in the spread of Christianity. This passage highlights the power of personal evangelism and the importance of each person’s unique calling in God’s plan.
John 1:43 – 51
Philip was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, and he had an interesting encounter with Jesus as recorded in John 1:43-45. Philip, who was from Bethsaida, was a disciple of John the Baptist. One day, as he was walking along, Jesus found him and called out to him, "Follow me." Philip immediately recognized Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, and he was overjoyed to be in his presence. The first thing Philip did after meeting Jesus was to go and find his friend Nathanael, also known as Bartholomew. Philip excitedly told Nathanael that he had found the one whom Moses and the prophets wrote about, Jesus of Nazareth. Nathanael was initially skeptical, but he decided to go and see for himself. When Nathanael met Jesus, he was amazed that Jesus knew so much about him, and he declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." This encounter shows how Philip's enthusiasm and faith led him to share the good news of Jesus with others, and it also demonstrates how Jesus can reveal himself to people in unexpected ways.
These Christ encounters are a powerful reminder that when Jesus calls us to follow him, it is not a call to an easy life or to simply add him to our list of priorities. It is a call to surrender everything to him, to leave behind our old ways and follow him wholeheartedly. But the reward for this sacrifice is beyond measure, as we become part of God's grand plan to redeem the world and bring his Kingdom on earth. The example of the disciples shows us that no matter who we are, what our background or shortcomings may be, Jesus can transform us and use us for his purposes. It is a humbling and inspiring truth that gives us hope and motivation to follow him with all our hearts.
As we have seen in these accounts that these men were deeply impacted when they had their Christ Encounters. So, what does this mean for us today? What can we learn and what can we take home with us?
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
Preview or purchase Jeff's Books