Following Jesus: The Quest Begins 2
What Kind of Follower are you? Who is it that you follow? What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus: a disciple?
A disciple of Jesus was first of all a follower. Literally! He would walk when Jesus walked, sat when Jesus sat, ate when Jesus ate, and slept where and when Jesus slept. A disciple then, and today, is a believer and close follower of Jesus; though other less committed relationships are indicated (Matthew 8:21; 10:1; 12:49; Luke 14:27; Acts 6:1).
A disciple was also a pupil. He or she would learn what their master taught them. In the case of Jesus, his disciples received His teachings. However, Jesus’ pupils encountered a closer relationship than just receiving mere information. (Matthew 10:24-25).
The ultimate purpose of following Jesus’ leading and learning from His teaching is Christ-like character. To ultimately be like Jesus results from following and learning from Him.
The Bible indicates that there exists three different kinds of disciples. While the Bible does not affirm all three categories, it does recognize their existence. The three categories of disciples are (1) a false disciple; (2) a secret disciple; and (3) a committed disciple.
As we have already seen, a false disciple is one who appears to follow Jesus. A false disciple appears to submit to Jesus’ teachings, or God’s Word. However, it is all an appearance. An appearance is façade or an outward show. False disciples are not true converts to Christianity. It is not they were converted and then reverted to their pagan condition; the Bible teaches no such condition. Rather, they were never converted to Christ to begin with.
The second category is being a secret disciple. There is one explicit biblical example of such a person: Joseph of Arimithia.
All four gospels chronicle the appearance of Joseph of Arimithia at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-55; John 19:38-42). Matthew describes Joseph as a disciple of Jesus. Mark describes him as a respected member of the council or the Sanhedrin. Luke explains that Joseph was a good and righteous man. Finally, John describes Joseph as a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews. However, it is Joseph who becomes a disciple of courage and asks Pontius Pilate for the lifeless body of Jesus.
Joseph was truly converted, but circumstances of life created a fear within him as to whether or not he would courageously and publically follow the Lord. However, at one of the most visible scenes in Christ’s like and ministry, Joseph stood tall.
Are you a secret disciple? You are willing to be identified as a follower of Jesus when everyone else is, but when you are at school or at work you would just as soon prefer people did not know. Why? Are you afraid? Of what? Ask Jesus to give you the courage to be a truly committed and visible disciple.
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