Many words in the Bible are packed with significance and meaning. If we can increase our Biblical vocabulary in a way that it flows from our brain to our heart, I believe it can help us in our faith journey.
Thus, I’m going to write a three part series looking at three key Biblical words. Obviously there are many others we could explore, so while this won’t be exhaustive, I believe it will be a learning and growing experience for those who are able to read it!
First, we will look at the word disciple. The word disciple in English comes from the Greek word Mathetes in the New Testament. It means “student” or “learner,” but in Bible times it was usually associated with people who were a devout follower of a significant religious leader.
The great German pastor and author, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, speaks very plainly – and with great conviction – about what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus. Bonhoeffer looks closely at the call of Levi in Mark’s gospel: “As He (Jesus) walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him” (Mark 2:14).
Listen to what Bonhoeffer has to say about Levi’s call: “It is Jesus who calls, and because it is Jesus, Levi follows at once. This encounter is at testimony to…the authority of Jesus.” He continues in saying, “And what does the text inform us about the content of discipleship? Follow me, run along behind me! That is all…the old life is left behind, and completely surrendered” (The Cost of Discipleship, pg.s. 57-58, emphasis mine).
Because of the authority of Jesus, one does not need to know what the road looks like they are going to follow Him on – they just need to know that it is Jesus they are following. Because of the authority of Jesus, the old life is left behind in obedience, and a new one begins.
Bonhoeffer continues in saying, “Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ” (The Cost of Discipleship, pg. 59).
Yes, you might want to write that quote down – or tweet it.
In other words, if one attempts to be a Christian without Jesus, they are not a true disciple. And if one tries to be a Christian without being a disciple of Jesus, they have a Jesus-less Christianity.
Being a Christian means following Jesus. Following Jesus means imitating Him and living a life of total surrender to His ways, not our ways.
While none of us are perfect, the lack of laying one’s life down and truly following Jesus is why we have a more watered down version of Christianity in the American church today.
Has Jesus told you to live purely? Then do it! Has He told you not to make that purchase? Don’t do it! Has He told you to sell that possession and give the money away – even if you look crazy? Then do it! Has he told you to go see a counselor? Then do it!
Saying yes to Him is always worth it.
I’ve had times when what He’s telling me to do doesn’t seem to make sense (like taking that Apple Watch back because it’s going to be more of a distraction than a help) – but it’s in obedience to the still small whisper in those times that I’m reminded that I’m following Jesus and His ways, not the ways of this world.
Even if I don’t understand “why,” my job in being a true disciple is to simply say “yes” to every request He makes to me along the road of following Him. Sure, we’ll never be perfect, but we should stand out in this task of following Him.
What is Jesus telling you today? What are you going to say to Him? Saying “yes” is always worth it.