“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19.
To be a disciple of Jesus means to “follow” Jesus (Mark 1:17-18; Luke 5:27-28). A disciple is one who is willing to be instructed, trained and disciplined by the Lord in order to become like Him in thought, attitude and action. Jesus said:
“If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).
Counting the Cost
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” Luke 14:28-33.
There is no personal cost in becoming a Christian – everything is a free gift from God. But there is a cost to becoming a disciple – it costs your whole life. But Jesus encouraged us to count the cost – in other words, to weigh up the relative values and see whether giving up everything is worth what God gives us in return. Like the pearl merchant of Matthew 13:45-46, when we find something that is worth far more than all we have put together, there is no sacrifice to give up everything we have. If you want to be a disciple of the Lord, you must be willing to meet certain conditions:
- Give the Lord total priority (Matt.10:37).
- Follow the Lord (Matt.10:38-39).
- Do without life’s comforts (Matt.8:19-20).
Being a disciple means that all that we are and all that we have now belongs to Jesus! In the parable Jesus told in Luke 14:16-24, note the excuses people gave for not obeying the call:
- Possessions (verse 18)
- Work (verse 19)
- Family (verse 20)
All that God asks from us is to be willing to put Him first in everything. God then responds to our willingness with His grace, and we soon find that we are not only willing to do God’s will, but also want to. God’s grace then anoints our desire and helps us to actually do what God calls us to do!
Marks of a Disciple
The marks of a disciple of the Lord Jesus are very distinctive, because a disciple takes on the character of his Master:
- Submission (John 8:28-31).
- Perseverance (Luke 9:62; Acts 14:22; 1 Peter 2:19-23).
- Obedience (John 14:21; Heb.5:7-8).
- Faithfulness (Hebrews 3:1-2).
- Fruitfulness (John 15:8).
- A servant-heart (Matthew 20:20-28).
- Humility (John 13:1-16).
- Love for one another (John 13:34-35).
“A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.” Matthew 10:24-25.
The Act of Consecration
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.” 1 Peter 3:15 (see also Joshua 3:5).
The word “consecration” means to be “set apart, or separated, for use by the Lord.” Consecration is a definite act of our will before God. It is the total giving of our life to the Lord. A beautiful picture of what consecration means is found in the Old Testament ceremony consecrating Aaron and his sons into the priesthood (read Leviticus 8:18-28). Three parts of Aaron’s body were touched by the blood of the sacrifice. They represent the consecration of our total being:
- The ear:
- Listening to the word of the Lord.
- The thumb:
- Doing the will of the Lord.
- The toe:
- Walking in the paths of the Lord.
The Burnt Offering
“If the offering is a burnt offering from the flock. He is to offer a male without defect, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle its blood against the altar on all sides, and the priest is to bring all of it and burn it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord” Leviticus 1:10-13 (read also 8:18-21).
The Old Testament burnt offering is a picture of our act of consecration to the Lord (see Hebrews 10:1). It was the highest of all offerings. The entire animal (representing the offerer) was placed on the altar. The fire under this particular offering was kept burning continually – day and night. It was not an offering for sin, but spoke of the entire surrender and dedication of the worshipper to God. Unlike the sin offering and the guilt offering, the burnt offering was a free will offering and “an aroma pleasing to the Lord” (Lev.1:9). As disciples of the Lord, we too now offer our lives as a “living sacrifice”.
“With eyes wide open to the mercy of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him” Romans 12:1 (Phillips).
This verse describes our consecration to the Lord as a “living sacrifice”, and says it is holy to the Lord and “acceptable by him”. This can only refer to the new creation that God has made us. We could not consecrate our sinful lives to God – there is nothing acceptable to God about our old lives. But Jesus has made us a new creation in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10; 4:22-24; Colossians 3:9-10). And it is this new life which we now offer up to God as a living sacrifice.
In His Footsteps
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’” Matt.16:24.
The key to being a disciple is following the Master. But you cannot follow anyone who is standing still. Jesus is moving, and we must move with Him. We are not to stand still, expecting God to bless us where we are. We must follow Him.