Since the beginning of the year, I have been participating in a discipleship process with Gerry Lewis from the Harvest Baptist Association – Dangerous Pastors. Part of the process was to come up with a definition of a disciples. For the last nine months or so I have been thinking about my definition. What I have come to is that:
A disciple is someone who follows Jesus in loving God, loving others, serving the world, spreading the gospel, and bringing others along to do the same.
I believe Scripture supports this definition. So let’s break that definition down using God’s Word.
A Disciple is Someone Who Follows Jesus in Loving God.
We see evidence that this is what a disciples does in Matthew 22. If you remember, a lawyer, one of the Pharisees, comes to Jesus to test Him.
In verse 36 he says,
““Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” (Mt 22:36)
To which Jesus replies,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” (Mt 22:37–38)
So Jesus tells us that a disciple is someone who loves God.
A Disciple is Someone Who Follows Jesus in Loving Others
The second thing Jesus says to the lawyer who questions Him in chapter 22 is:
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt 22:39)
Which is the second greatest commandment. Then He goes on by saying,
“On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”” (Mt 22:40)
So according to Jesus, a disciple is someone who not only loves God, but also loves others.
A Disciple is Someone Who Follows Jesus in Serving the World
In Matthew chapter 20, the mother of the sons of Zebedee come to Jesus asking if her sons could be placed over everyone else in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus responds by telling her He can’t do that because it is up to His Father who gets those seats.
Hearing this, the other disciples get mad at the two brothers for trying to edge them out, for trying to use their mom to get a position they wanted, so a fight ensues among the disciples.
Seeing His disciples fighting, Jesus steps in and says,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”” (Mt 20:25–28)
So Jesus tells us a disciple is one who serves, just like He is one who serves, which means it shouldn’t be about us and our comfort. Rather it should be about others and what we can do for them. How we can serve them.
So according to Jesus, a disciple is not only someone who loves God and others, but they are also someone who serves the world.
A Disciple is Someone Who Follows Jesus in Spreading the Gospel
Matthew 28 tells us we are to go and spread the gospel, to bring the good news to our neighbors, to our family, to our friends, to our co-workers, to city, to our state, to our country, and to the nations. Jesus is commanding us, He is commissioning us, to spread the good news just as He has been doing throughout His entire ministry.
So according to Jesus, a disciple is not only someone who loves God and others, serves the world, but they are also someone who spreads the gospel.
A Disciple is Someone Who Follows Jesus in Bringing Others Along
If you think about it, that is what Jesus has been doing throughout His entire ministry. Almost right away, He called Twelve Men to follow Him, and He brought them along on the journey with Him. As He did, He taught them what it meant to Love God, Love Others, Serve the World, and Spread the Gospel.
We are to imitate Jesus. We are to bring others along on the journey with us to help them grow in these areas as we are growing in these areas.
So according to Jesus, a disciple is not only someone who loves God and others, serves the world, spreads the gospel, but they also bring others along to do the same thing they are doing — Loving God, Loving Others, Serving the World, and Spreading the Gospel.
Question for Reflection
- What is your definition of a disciple?