Following Jesus: The Quest Begins

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 silent disciple; and (3) a committed disciple. 

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. 

False disciples are mentioned in Matthew 8:18-22, Mark 3:31-35, Luke 8:19-21 and John 6:60-71. It is in John’s gospel that we witness an example of people who followed Jesus for the miracles He did in healing the sick (John 6:1-2), but not because of who He was: the Son of God. 

Following the feeding of the 5,000 with two fish and five loaves of bread (John 6:3-14), Jesus proceeded to teach the multitude that He is the Bread of Life (John 6:22-59). In teaching this doctrine along with God’s sovereign will, many of Jesus’ disciples had a difficult time believing and accepting what He said (John 6:60). Many grumbled (John 6:61). 

Jesus did not compromise with the crowd. He told them that it was only through the Spirit of God that eternal like would be given (John 6:62-65). As a result of this uncompromising stance, many of those who were following Jesus, but who were not truly converted (John 6:64), ceased being His disciples from that moment (John 6:66). 

When Jesus then asked the twelve if they were going to forsake Him also, Simon Peter responded with the words, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (John 6:67-68). Simon Peter continued by exclaiming, “We have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:69). 

This then ultimately distinguishes a false disciple like Judas Iscariot, who Jesus called a devil (John 6:70-1) from a committed disciple who truly is redeemed. A false disciple will never affirm that Jesus is the Holy One of God. 

Are you a follower of Jesus who is truly committed to follow Him, or are you simply interested in what you may receive from Him? Have you truly trusted and are dependent upon Him for salvation, committed to live for Him as your Lord, and willing to worship Him as the Holy One of God? 

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