Are you a disciple of Jesus yet?
And what does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ anyway? That you come to Church or are 'born again'? Or is discipleship a hidden key to radical freedom and limitless power many simply Christians miss?
Here's an unusual answer from Jesus...
There are three points worth picking up on from what Jesus reveals here...
- If you dedicate yourself to be a true disciple of Jesus you enter His closest "inner circle", His family.
- The deepest, most tender and intimate relationship with Jesus comes to these close disciples.
- Only those who do the will of the Father of Jesus Christ are real disciples.
Let's look at that last point again for a second...
So we can see that the first prerequisite for a disciple is that they do the will of the Father of Jesus Christ, our own heavenly Father if we are Christians. In fact if we ignore or refuse to do the will of GOD we could even find ourselves shut out of heaven one day. (Radical thought; remember, this passage applies to Christians!).
Two other discipleship qualifications...
The first is (just like the first twelve disciples) you don't just 'follow' Jesus... you actually live with Him. You put your hand to the plough and don't look back, on the road with Jesus!
Being a disciple in Jesus' day meant actually living with your Rabbi and learning from life itself as it occurred there in front of you.
You ate with him. You slept in the same place. You were so close you absorbed everything he stood for. You watched him respond to life through his love of the Torah. You loved him and yearned to be like him. Then you did what he did!
At situations would arise out on the road the Rabbi would ask questions of his disciples or respond to what was happening with Godly wisdom, using live experiences to teach and embed truth in his disciples.
Did you know when Jesus said "Follow me" it was actually a Hebrew technical term (literally "walk after me" in Hebrew - "lech aharai") meaning to become a disciple? Roy B Blizzard and David Bivin point out, "it very often meant having to make heart rending decisions even at the expense of one's own family etc."
Going on the road with your wandering Rabbi was a big deal. It meant leaving a lot behind. Jesus was exactly such an itinerant Rabbi. This is perfectly illustrated when He responds to some asking to be His disciples...
Blizzard and Bivin also note... "In Jesus, we find the classic example of the peripatetic rabbi." The quote noted Jewish Historian Joseph Klausner, for many years Professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem...
In his [Jesus] ethical code there is a sublimity, distinctiveness, and originality in form unparalleled in any other Hebrew ethical code; neither is there any parallel to the remarkable art of his parables. The shrewdness and sharpness of his proverbs and his forceful epigrams serve in an exceptional degree, to make ethical ideas a popular possession (Jesus of Nazareth; His Life, Times, and Teaching, 414).
Interestingly Blizzard and Bivin reveal that most of the famous Rabbi's of Jesus' day were from Galilee. It was a hub of excellence, with it's schools of learning surpassing Judea.
They note Professor Shmuel Safrai, Hebrew University Professor of Jewish History of the period of the Mishnah and Talmud, states that not only did the number of 1st century Galilean rabbis known from rabbinic literature exceed the number of Judean rabbis, but even the moral and ethical quality of their teaching excelled that of their Judean counterparts.
An interesting aside...
When Luke relates the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 it further establishes Jesus' Rabbinic credentials because by opening their home to Him, they were following convention supporting itinerant Rabbis.
Additionally Mary was demonstrating she had chosen to become a disciple of Christ because the term "sitting at the feet of..." was a Rabbinical expression, a common technical term for becoming a disciple.
Therefore, as it was for the early disciples, so too for us here well over two thousand years later. If you are not prepared to live with Jesus Christ 24/7 and have your heart and home open to Him at all times in the same way that Mary, Martha and Lazarus did, then can you really call yourself a disciple?
So to help wrap up the first point here; you don't just follow Jesus... as a disciple you LIVE with Him, 24/7. You also need a close knit little band of other disciples... a family. You are OUT THERE IN REAL LIFE, not hiding behind Church walls. You roll your sleeves up and get stuck in helping others you find while out on your adventures with your Rabbi (Master)... Jesus Christ.
Now let's weave this even more with contemporary Christianity...
The second qualification is this; allow yourself to become schooled by the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus revealed to His disciples He was going away back to His Father (John 16:5) He explained this would be better for them because from then on His own Spirit would live inside them to lead, teach and guide them.
In effect Jesus was saying every disciple would have the ultimate Teacher living in them.
The Holy Spirit, ie this invisible GOD, the Spirit of Holiness, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9) would be good for them because He would never leave them. He would teach them all their own Rabbi, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah) wanted them to learn, line by line, precept by precept (Isaiah 28:10). How wonderful!
To bring this towards a conclusion...
A few years ago I had an interesting revelation concerning what discipleship meant. Because I thought of discipleship and linked it with 'discipline' (in a fearful way) the LORD showed me I had it totally wrong.
Instead GOD showed me by submitting and surrendering to the Holy Spirit as my Teacher, the word disciple really meant "One who is being trained." I did not need to fear or dread this process at all.
Today I know this aspect of discipleship is simply having an INVINCIBLE, invisible Teacher with me every single day, training me how to love the LORD, serve others and walk in righteousness.
He is kind, and patient too!
To come under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, is an extraordinary privilege and wonderful joy. When we do this, fear leaves us because we experience GOD as love. By becoming "yoked to Him" our burdens become light as Jesus said they would, because the Holy Spirit helps us to bear everything in life, teaching us as we walk...
Far from being a harsh taskmaster, Jesus entrusts us to the Holy Spirit to teach us how to love Him. In response we seek to become like our wonderful Rabbi as all good disciples yearn to do. The Holy Spirit makes it happen!
And as we learn to walk with the Holy Spirit, more and more, allowing ourselves to be trained by Him, then He can entrust us with more and more power, to do all those things which Jesus said we are to do, once we have been endued with power from on high as the early disciples were.
- We become full of power by the Holy Spirit. We can do miracles. We are not proud. Miracles we do are for the glory of GOD in order to serve those the Holy Spirit leads us to help. Love in action.
- We become freer and freer, because we have lost our lives in our King, Jesus Christ. Thus we experience the true freedom of the Cross. This is the greatest, most wonderful contradiction in life... when we are bound and yoked to the One who carried the Cross, we become truly free.
So if you want to do miracles or get healed or minister healing to others; FIRST become a disciple of Christ. Surrender to the training of the Holy Spirit and He will help you do this and become like Christ.
NOTE: Once a man of GOD I knew with a very successful healing and deliverance ministry with healing centres all over the world, shared an interesting observation with me.
He said it was his belief that discipleship was probably the greatest key to (inner) healing.
With vast experience he said he had observed that those who simply wanted to get healing for no other reason than to get healed... rarely got healed, even if they'd sought healing for years.
Their selfish aim often seemed to be ignored by GOD.
However, there was a huge contrast with those who actively embraced the lifestyle of discipleship. He noted those (despite also desperate for healing) who actively lived to serve others for Jesus, were the ones who got healed most frequently. They also had the most profound healings and deliverance too.
His observed results (over nearly forty years in ministry) strongly suggest discipleship is central to healing.
Therefore love the process of being transformed as a disciple... your breakthrough will come.
Finally, and why we are disciples anyway...
I believe it is impossible to become a true disciple of Jesus Christ without being yoked and fully surrendered to the Holy Spirit. And it's only in His power that we can go and make MORE disciples as Jesus commands us...