Updated: Jan 21
Following Jesus and discipleship
When Jesus called his disciples, he told them all on various occasions to follow him Here are some examples.
1. Matthew 4:19 Simon Peter and Andrew
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
2. Matthew 8:22 Another disciple
But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
3. Matthew 9:9 Matthew
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
4. Matthew 10:38 All 12 disciples
whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
5. Matthew 16:24 All 12 disciples
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
6. Matthew 19:21 Rich young ruler
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
7. Luke 9:23 Daily
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
8. Luke 14:27 Those Excluded from following Jesus
and whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
9. John 1:43 Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael. The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Following and being a disciple?
The word disciple actually means a ‘learner’ or ‘follower.’ Jesus did not tell people to get converts but rather to make disciples. Jesus wants us to be his disciples. Will we be followers who will obey or will be followers who walk away? Disciples follow Jesus and disciples make other disciples.
Some tough questions for would-be disciples.
What do we need to give up to follow Jesus?
If we compare ourselves with the first followers of Jesus in the first century. This is where we come face to face with a big challenge.
Do we really have to give up everything we have to follow Jesus?
Do we have to love him in a way that makes our closest relationships in this world look like hate? Could He tell us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor?
Was it easier in those early days of the New Testament believers to give everything up for Jesus? How do we go about this in this day and age? Can we follow Jesus without leaving our families, jobs, or wealth? Should we just join a monastery or nunnery?
Interestingly God called Martin Luther out of a monastery to follow Him!
Bonhoeffer [1} tried to answer this question by suggesting that Jesus did not call all his followers to give everything up initially and gave examples of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Bonhoeffer also says that as we identify with Jesus’ death in our baptism then we are showing full commitment to following Him. So could Jesus still call you and me to give up our families, possessions, and jobs?
However, my own view is that we only need to give up whatever Jesus specifically tells us to give up. But it is up to Jesus to tell us specifically and it is over to us to decide whether we will obey Him or not.
Is He worth it?
This brings us to the crucial question for every true follower of Jesus: Do we really believe He is worth abandoning everything for? Do you and I really believe that Jesus is so good, so satisfying and so rewarding that we will leave all we have and all we own and all we are in order to find our fullness in Him? Do you and I believe Him enough to obey Him and to follow Him wherever He leads?
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer in ‘The cost of discipleship.’
In Part 2 we discuss what Jesus expects from His followers,