During Jesus’ ministry there were hundreds and sometimes thousand following Him. But only a few were believers (Disciples)
To many Christians, the word “disciple” is a religious term to describe the original twelve followers of Jesus. Most Christians probably would not associate themselves with being a disciple of Jesus. However, the word disciple is the Greek word, “mathaytes.” It is the Strong’s word 3101. The word translated as disciple which is the Greek word, “mathaytes” means “a pupil, a learner, a student.” In fact, in several places in the Gospels, Jesus is called Rabbi. The word “Rabbi” means “a teacher.” We can see this in John 3:2 as it is written:
" The same (Nicodemus) came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God ..."
Jesus is described in the Gospels as being a Rabbi or “teacher” (John 1:38, John 3:2) and His followers are called disciples or “students.” A disciple or “student” is expected to learn and grow in knowledge and understanding.
If you have accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, Jesus is our master (teacher) and we are his disciples (students). The desire of every teacher is for their students to grow in knowledge and understanding of their subject material so that they will be able to comprehend the subject material on the same level as their teacher. The Bible talks about believers in Jesus as Messiah growing in knowledge and understanding of Him and God’s Word so that we will be conformed to His image. In Romans 8:29 it is written:
"For whom he (God) did foreknow, he (God) also did predestinate to be conformed to the image (the exact spiritual likeness and characteristics) of his Son (]esus) ..."
We are conformed to the image of Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In 2 Corinthians 3:18 it is written:
"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even by the Spirit of the Lord."
How do we bear fruit in the Kingdom of God? We bear fruit in the Kingdom of God when we love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and seek to be disciples (students) of Jesus. In doing this, we must realize that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.We can only bear much fruit by yielding our lives unto Him and allowing the Holy Spirit to produce within us Godly character. When we submit our lives to Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to produce within us Godly character, God will prepare, train, and equip us to follow and do His Will. By following and doing the Will of God in our lives, we will bear much fruit for God and the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. In John 15:5 it is written:
"I am the vine, ye are the branches; He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."
After we submit and yield our lives to Jesus, we need to submit and yield our lives over to the Holy Spirit to produce Godly character within us. The fruit of the Spirit is mentioned in Galatians 5:22-25 as it is written:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
If we submit our lives to Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to produce Godly character within us, God will allow us to bear much fruit in the Kingdom and we will be disciples of Jesus. In John 15:8 it is written:
"Herein is my Father glorified that you bear much fruit: so shall you be my disciples."
From this, we can understand that a disciple of Jesus will bear much fruit in the Kingdom of God.
SEVEN ATTRIBUTES OF A DISCIPLE
Now that we know that a disciple is a follower of Jesus and a student of God’s Word, what are the characteristics of a disciple of Jesus? I will list seven characteristics of a disciple of Jesus. They are as follows:
- A disciple (student) will be like his master (teacher) (Luke 6:40)
- A disciple (student) must lay down his fleshly life to obtain eternal life (Luke 14:26)
- A disciple (student) must bear his own cross (Luke 14:27)
- A disciple (student) will forsake all he has and deny himself to serve Jesus (Matthew 16:24, Luke 14:33)
- A disciple (student) will bear much fruit (John 15:8)
- A disciple (student) will have love one for another (John 13:34-35)
- A disciple (student) will continue in God’s Word (John 8:32)
In conclusion, we will be disciples (students) of Jesus when we desire and purpose in our heart to love and follow God in the same way that Jesus loved and followed the Will of God. In doing so, we need to lay down those things which keep us from giving our entire heart and life to Jesus. We must lay aside the cares of this world, the ways of this world and the desire of our own flesh that are contrary to the Will of God for our lives. By doing this, we will deny the pleasures of this world and we will take up our cross daily to follow Jesus and do the Will of God.
In order to grow in knowledge and understanding of God, we must seek to study and learn of God’s Word and the ways of the Kingdom of Heaven. When we do this, we will seek to love our neighbors as ourselves and we will love our fellow Christians. By doing all these things, we will bear much fruit in the Kingdom of God and we will be good and faithful disciples and servants of God.