Typically, when people hear the word “disciple” they conjure up one of two images: (1) The image of a contemplative, almost philosophical-looking person, usually dressed in a flowing robe, walking around with his hand rubbing his chin contemplating the meaning of some “deep aspect of life”; or (2) what some would call a “religious freak,” willing to do anything, even kill for his or her master. But what does it really mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? This guide looks into this important subject in the light of God’s word, the Bible.
JOHN 8:31: “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, 'If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.'”
1. What do you think Jesus meant when He said “If you abide in my word”?
2. How would you do that? Consider John 15:10 John 15:10If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
American King James Version×. Is it enough to just say you’re a disciple of Jesus Christ, or do you think that there is some action involved? Why?
COMMENT: Vine's New Testament Word Search defines the Greek word (mathetes) that is translated “disciples” as: “lit., 'a learner' … it denotes 'one who follows one's teaching'…. A 'disciple' was not only a pupil, but an adherent; hence they are spoken of as imitators of their teacher.” So a disciple of Jesus Christ follows His example: 1 Peter 2:21 1 Peter 2:21For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps:
American King James Version×.
MATTHEW 9:14-15: “Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, 'Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?' And Jesus said to them, 'Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.'”
3. What does this passage tell us about whether disciples of Christ fast today?
4. What circumstances would make fasting a smart thing to do?
COMMENT: Jesus' disciples learned from Him as they lived with Him for more than 3 years. Jesus taught them by how He lived — by His example. He instructed them by word, and they asked Him questions. They asked about scripture (Matthew 17:10 Matthew 17:10And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?
American King James Version×), about what He meant by what He had said (Luke 8:9 Luke 8:9And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?
American King James Version×), about how to live (Mark 10:10 Mark 10:10And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.
American King James Version×), about their failures (Mark 9:28 Mark 9:28And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out?
American King James Version×), and about His will (Luke 9:54 Luke 9:54And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, will you that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
American King James Version×).
5. How can we have fellowship and commune with Christ and the Father today? How can we get answers to our questions about the same matters?
2 PETER 3:18: “… but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
6. How long are we to go on learning of Jesus Christ?
MATTHEW 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
7. After His death and resurrection, what work did Jesus assign His disciples? How do you know that His disciples should be continuing that assignment even into the 21st century?
8. How can those not in the ministry help with this assignment?
Bring Forth Fruit
JOHN 15:8: “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
1. Christ's disciples “bear much fruit.” What did Jesus mean by “fruit”? What kind of “fruit” does a disciple produce?
2. How does a disciple's fruit glorify God the Father? Consider Matthew 5:16 Matthew 5:16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
American King James Version×.
3. List three things you can do to “let your light shine.”
Love One Another
JOHN 13:35: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
1. Define “love.”
2. Give some examples of how we can show love for one another in the: (A) home; (B) school; (C) church; (D) community
Feed the Sheep
1. Other than Matthew 28:19-20 Matthew 28:19-20 19 Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
American King James Version×, what other task did Jesus give His disciples? Read John 21:15-16 John 21:15-16 15 So when they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me more than these? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my lambs. 16 He said to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my sheep.
American King James Version×and answer. How is this being done in the church today? How can disciples who are not in the ministry help with this task?
ACTS 11:26: “…And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”
1. What is another term for “disciples”?
2 TIMOTHY 2:19: “…Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
2. What is “iniquity”? Did Jesus commit any iniquity? Why can't a Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ, live in iniquity?
3. Read Acts 5:1-10 Acts 5:1-10 1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 Whiles it remained, was it not your own? and after it was sold, was it not in your own power? why have you conceived this thing in your heart? you have not lied to men, but to God. 5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. 6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. 7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. 8 And Peter answered to her, Tell me whether you sold the land for so much? And she said, Yes, for so much. 9 Then Peter said to her, How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried your husband are at the door, and shall carry you out. 10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
American King James Version×. Ananias and Sapphira met with the church. Do you think they were disciples of Christ? Why or why not?
COMMENT: Christians do sin, but not willfully so. Read 1 John 1:6 1 John 1:6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
American King James Version×- 2:6. True disciples have the choice of continuing in that way of life or straying from it as this couple did.
LUKE 14:26-27,33: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. (33) So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”
MATTHEW 16:24-26: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?'”
1. What does it cost to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Is it a small price? Is it easy to be a disciple or is it very, very challenging?
2. Define the word “hate” in Luke's passage.
3. What does it mean to “bear his cross” in Matthew's account?
4. What was Peter's eventual cost? Read John 21:18-19 John 21:18-19 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, When you were young, you gird yourself, and walked where you would: but when you shall be old, you shall stretch forth your hands, and another shall gird you, and carry you where you would not.
19 This spoke he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he said to him, Follow me.
American King James Version×before answering.
5. Explain Christ's paradoxical statement: “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
6. Why do you think Jesus demands so much from His disciples?
7. What reward does a disciple receive? Read and explain Matthew 19:27-29 Matthew 19:27-29 27 Then answered Peter and said to him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed you; what shall we have therefore?
28 And Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, That you which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, you also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29 And every one that has forsaken houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundred times, and shall inherit everlasting life.
American King James Version×. Compare with Revelation 20:4 Revelation 20:4And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
American King James Version×and 5:10.
1. List three things a disciple can do to become like Jesus Christ.
2. How does a nominal Christian differ from a true disciple?
3. Do you think being a disciple of Jesus Christ is worth the cost? Why?