Summary: Many may think that the term disciple refers only to the early followers of Christ. The Disciples were those who devoted themselves to prayer, worship, loving, giving, and evangelizing group of men and women who refused to keep the truth of the gospel to
The Requirements of Discipleship
While every disciple is a believer, every believer is not necessarily a disciple.
Many may think that the term disciple refers only to the early followers of Christ. The Disciples were those who devoted themselves to prayer, worship, loving, giving, and evangelizing group of men and women who refused to keep the truth of the gospel to themselves. Yet, God still desires disciples today—ordinary people like you and me who God can use to do extraordinary things.
Paul describes to us the kind of people that God uses in 1 Cor. 1:27
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.
Are We True Disciples?
If you are a true disciple, your Christian walk will be challenging and exciting, and you will have a sense of purpose and direction. But if your Christian experience can be described as dull, unfulfilling, and even boring at times, you need to seriously examine the statements Jesus made concerning what it means to be a disciple. After all, how can we expect to fulfill the Great Commission to go into all the world and make disciples if we don’t even really know what one is? It literally takes one to make one.
Disciple (biblical definition): a learner; a pupil; one who comes to be taught. The relationship between the disciple and his teacher is not merely that of a student listening to a lecturer, or simply a passively interested listener. A disciple listens with attention and intention. He drinks in every word of his teacher, marking every inflection of voice with an intense desire to apply what has been learned.
The Requirements of Discipleship
In Luke 14, Jesus lays out the tests and requirements of discipleship. In verse 25, Jesus sees a large crowd gathering. He knew that these people believed and accepted His message in principle. Prior to this point, Jesus had shown how the message of the gospel was for everyone. He had exposed the Pharisees as the religious hypocrites that they were. As a result, He had become enormously popular. Now He wanted to weed out those who were following Him for the wrong reasons.
Some wanted to be dazzled by Jesus’ miracles, while others came looking for a free meal. A few even hoped that He would overthrow Rome and establish God’s kingdom. So Jesus turns to the multitude and preaches a sermon that deliberately weeds out the true followers and those who just want the benefit of the kingdom.
Jesus Seeks Quality over Quantity
Jesus makes it clear that when it comes to personal discipleship, He is more interested in quality than quantity. The words He spoke that day are perhaps the most solemn and searching words that ever fell from His lips.
Why would Jesus say such things to all those people who followed Him? It seems that He is intentionally trying to get rid of them. In a sense, He is trying to get rid of at least some of them. A similar story is found in Judges 7:1-22. There God wanted to give His servant, Gideon, a victory in his battle against the Midianites. But the Lord said that He wanted to get the glory for it. So, through a series of tests, God whittled down Gideon’s original army of 32,000 to 300. God knew that He could do more with 300 alert, committed men than He could with 32,000 half-hearted ones.
Three times in the course of this message in Luke, Jesus uses the phrase, “cannot be my disciple.” In other words, Jesus is laying out some absolute prerequisites for discipleship.
Prerequisite #1: Love God More Than Anyone Else
Jesus begins with some very strong words: “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” (v. 26).
Jesus was not advocating that in order to be disciples, we must exhibit hate toward family, friends, and ourselves. In this verse, Jesus was using the Here He uses the word hate as the opposite of love. He did not choose something easily hated, like sin; instead, He chooses the most noble love we could have in this world—the love of family. He uses this analogy to show that our love for God must take pre-eminence over all others. Your love for God should be so strong that your love for others is like hatred by comparison.
We see how personal relationships can conflict with the call of discipleship in Luke chapter nine. There, Jesus asks someone to follow Him, but the man responds with this excuse: “Lord, let me first go and bury my father” (Luke 9:59). Right there a conflict arises. If He is truly Lord, then He is first, not us. This man was essentially saying, “Lord, let me wait until my parents grow old and die. I don’t want to create any conflict. I’ll follow You at a more convenient time.”