They wanted something from Jesus: validation, healing, answers, blessing. Many of His followers left after they received what they came for. Some left thinking Jesus was a great teacher. Some thought He was a prophet. Some thought He was a rebel and a troublemaker. Some thought He was crazy.
But some, the ones who stayed, knew the truth about Jesus.
When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-16, The Message emphasis mine)
These people were not just followers along for the ride, but disciples: people who are pupils or adherents of the doctrines of another (from Dictionary.com). Jesus gives us a qualification for being a disciple...and a promise if we are willing.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Jesus calls us to make disciples, not just followers.
How can we make disciples if we, ourselves, are only followers of Jesus?
Many people today claim to know Jesus. If I look at their lives, I see followers; not disciples.
- I see people elevating personal comfort and desires above obedience
- I see people discounting doctrine - truth - in the name of love
- I see people calling good, evil, and evil, good.
- I see people following Jesus' teachings where they agree while ignoring verses they don't understand
I see people who place Jesus in a box that suits their need, their desire, their comfort level.
These are not disciples, they are followers...if they can even be called that at all.
Do they really know Jesus? Maybe that's the heart of the issue - people have made judgments about Him because they don't really know Him. Maybe they don't want to know Him because it will disrupt their comfort, challenge their ideals, and rock their boat, so to speak.
It will cost them everything, and they know it.
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23, NIV)
Sadly, they are not willing to pay the cost.
But, oh, what a joy to be His disciple! What delight to get to know Him, and experience His love, and walk with Him every day! His miraculous, ongoing transformation of my heart has been nothing short of amazing.
But yes, there is a cost.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
As disciples, we must be willing to be hated by the world. Now more than ever we need to stand for truth: His truth as given to us in the Bible, not the relevant truth of our own making.
We need to show others the way to the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God; not just to a good teacher or prophet.
Don't settle for being just a follower of Jesus, become His disciple. Pray this simple prayer with me.
Jesus, I am your disciple. My life is yours. Thank you for all you've done and are doing in my life. Help me know You more every day. Teach me your ways, lead me into truth, and keep me on the path. I am willing.