“Disciple, disciple, disciple – I hear it a lot, but what is it?” If we don’t know the answer; if we can’t explain it simply to someone else, then we’re stuck, right out of the gates.
If we are working with several different definitions of what a disciple is, we won’t all run in the same direction – it would be like trying to use baseball gloves, to play basketball better.
Here is the passage from Scripture that tells us – in a nutshell – what a disciple is: “Follow me,… and I will make you fishers of people.” (Matthew 4:19)
In this short sentence, there are three, crucial directives for how we are to be disciples:
- “Follow me”: A disciple knows and follows Christ.
- “I will make you”: A disciple is being changed by Christ.
- “Fishers of people”: A disciple is committed to the mission of Christ.
Follow me: A disciple is under Christ’s authority and direction – it’s a relationship – Jesus even calls it a friendship (John 15:15), but it is a relationship, a friendship in which we submit to Jesus’ leadership.
I will make you: After Jesus is resurrected, he promises to send the Spirit to us. The Spirit is God, and the Spirit is sent to transform us through worship, prayer, Scripture, fellowship, and service.
Fishers of people: Jesus called the fishermen, Peter and Andrew, James and John – people doing labor-intensive work – , to do spiritual work that was labor-intensive – kingdom building work. It’s tempting to think that Jesus was calling the disciples away from their nets and boats, to easier work – “Leave that dead-end job behind!”. But he was saying this to the disciples: “We will work to draw people out of the destructive waters of sin, death, and the devil – hard work, but glorious, and God’s own work.”
A disciple is what Jesus says he/she is, and does what Jesus says he/she must do: “Follow me,… and I will make you fishers of people.” (Matthew 4:19)