The word disciple comes from the Latin word ‘discipulus’ meaning pupil or learner. The dictionary defines the term ‘disciple’ to be a person who accepts the teachings and follows the examples of another. A disciple is someone who believes in and helps spread the teachings of another. It is someone who learns from a leader and someone who wants to live life according to the wishes and commands of the teacher.The disciples of Jesus were:James, son of ZebedeeJohn, brother of JamesPhilipBartholomewThomas who didn’t believe Jesus had risen from the dead.
James, son of AlphaesSimonThaddeusand Judas Iscariot who later betrayed Jesus for money.The disciples were expected to give up everything they had to be real followers of Jesus as Mark tells us in his gospel:As Jesus walked along the shore of Lake Galilee he saw two fishermen, Simon and his brother Andrew, catching fish with a net. Jesus said to them ‘Come with me and I will teach you to catch men.’ At once they left their nets and went with him. He went a little further and saw two other brothers, James and John sons of Zebedee.
They were in their boats preparing their nets. Jesus called them and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and went with Jesus. (Mark 1:16-20)This story informs us that to be a disciple in Jesus’ time you had to respond immediately to Jesus’ demands even if it meant leaving you friends, family and property behind.The disciples were ordinary people with ordinary jobs, it is odd that Jesus did not pick any particular person, he chose four fishermen to be his most loyal companions who would be prepared to suffer, go to prison, be rejected and eventually die.In the second chapter of Mark’s Gospel Jesus is again on the shore of Lake Galilee where he started to teach a crowd of people.
As he walked along he saw a tax collector, Levi son of Alpheaus, sitting in his office. Jesus said to him ‘Follow me.’ Levi got up and followed him. (Mark 2:14) This tells us that Jesus wasn’t afraid to work with social outcasts and that he treats everyone with equality.Jesus was aware that the disciples would find it difficult to give up everything that they had, including their family, friends, their jobs and their way of living without the thought of reward. When Peter said to Jesus ‘look, we have left everything to follow you’ his response was ‘I tell you that anyone who leaves home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel, will receive much more in this present age.
He will receive a hundred times more houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children and fields.’ (Mark 10:29) This shows that Jesus’ disciples will be rewarded with the gift of eternal life in heaven.Jesus displayed more of what it is to be a disciple. ‘I have chosen you to be with me,’ he told them, ‘I will also send you out to preach and you will have the authority to drive out demons.’There are many other people in Mark’s Gospel who had faith in Jesus and who followed him. These people are known as the less obvious disciples because Jesus did not call them yet the came to have faith in him themselves.
The woman with a haemorrhage (Mark 5:21-43) who touches Jesus’ cloak showed that she was a true disciple of Jesus by saying to herself when he was near to her ‘if only I could touch his cloak I will become well.’ In saying this she was conveying her faith in Jesus and his healing powers. Another example of a ‘less obvious disciple’ is Jarius. He was an official at the local synagogue. Jarius had a daughter who he thought wasdying; he ran to Jesus and begged him ‘my little daughter is very ill. Please come and place your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.’ When Jesus arrived at Jarius’ home he placed him hands on the little girl and told her to get up.
To everyone’s amazement she got us and began to walk around. Jarius’ belief in Jesus had helped his daughter to become well. His faith in Jesus showed that he was a true disciple.Thousands of people have suffered for their faith, there are many unknown people who have lost their lives for their faith just as the first twelve disciples did.
Discipleship did not only exist in Jesus’ time but also exists in the world today. Religion has become ‘unfashionableï¿½ in many areas of society and things such as drugs can be a barrier between an individual and discipleship. However, there are people who manage to become good disciples in the modern world. There are some people who make great sacrifices to follow Jesus. These modern day disciples continue on the work of the original twelve from Jesus’ time. Dorothy Day of America was a modern day disciple.
The Bible teaches us to ‘do unto others as you would have dun unto you.’ It also tells us to ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ Dorothy complied with this teaching by opening houses and hospitals in America where poor people came for meals. She campaigned for improved rights for workers and started the Catholic Workers movement. Dorothy prayed to God daily to help those less fortunate than herself, by doing this she was showing that her faith in God was strong. ‘The mystery of the poor is that they are Jesus and what you do for him.
It is the only was of knowing and believing in our love. The mystery of poverty is that by sharing it, making ourselves poor in giving to others, we increase our knowledge and belief in love.’Mother Teresa was a woman who devoted her life to those who were starving and disease-ridden. She became a symbol of hope amongst the hopeless.
In 1993 she went to Edinburgh, there she found a man on the streets of Calcutta who was ‘eaten up by worms’. She was a strong believer of Jesus and just as Jesus had worked and helped those who were seen as outcasts, she took him and looked after him. Before he died he said to her, ‘I have lived like a dog, but I will die like an angel.’ She cared passionately and gave her whole life to the service of God through serving those less fortunate than herself. Mother Teresa acted like Jesus had: she followed his teachings and examples to help those who needed it most. In doing this she proved to be a true disciple of Jesus.
Other people in our modern day world such as doctors and nurses are like disciples as they care for the sick. There are also those who care for the elderly in nursing homes. My aunty who lives in Canada works in a hospital as a nurse, she also takes part in voluntary work for the disabled and for the homeless. In doing this she is, like Mother Teresa, following the teachings and examples of Jesus and showing that she is a disciple.What qualities must disciples have?Community Disciples must be able to live together, as equals.
Mark 14:3-9 tells us about a time when the disciples had been arguing about which one of them was the greatest. Jesus told them that whoever welcomes his name in a child welcomes not only him but also the one who sent him. The disciples learnt not to see themselves as the greatest or greater than others but to see themselves as equals and to put others before themselves.Believing Mark 16:1-20 tells us about Jesus’ Resurrection. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, after the Sabbath Day, brought to the tomb spices to anoint the body of Jesus.
When they both arrived they were surprised to see that the tombstone had already been opened. When they entered the tomb they saw a young man wearing a white robe sitting inside. He spoke to them and told them that Jesus had risen from the dead. Both Marys ran from the place where Jesus had disappeared from, they ran because they were terrified and distressed. They never said a word to anyone because they were so terrified. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James didn’t act as disciples; they lacked the faith that they needed.
They did not tell anyone because they didn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the dead.In Jesus’ time it was very dangerous to be associated with God. People who were caught practising the faith were killed, and so being a disciple was a big risk.
Cost The story of troubles and persecution (Mark 13:9-13) is about Jesus telling the disciples to be on guard. Jesus says ‘you will be arrested and taken to court. You will be beaten in synagogues but you will stand in front of the rulers and kings and tell them the good news.’ He continued, ‘but before end comes, you must preach the gospel to all people.’ From this story we learn about the high costs and risks involved with being a disciple. We learn that the disciples gave up their lives to preach the good news. A good disciple was someone who was willing and able to put their lives at risk for others and for God, almost like Jesus had given his life for us on the cross.
“It is not possible to be a true disciple of Jesus in the modern world.”In some ways I would agree with this statement because I think that it is extremely difficult to be a modern day disciple because many people take the modern lifestyle for granted and the mission now has a different meaning to the one in Jesusï¿½ time. I think it is difficult to relate to the Cost of Discipleship (Mark 13:9-13) in the modern world because so many people are judged by many different aspects of their lifestyle. They are usually judged in a positive way about their possessions and general lifestyle but they are judged in a negative way about their religion. Religion has become very ‘unfashionableï¿½ and this is not just because it is considered a waste of time but it is also because Jesusï¿½ teaching methods were unfashionable. Today’s world is so materialistic and people would not judge someone kindly if abandoned their family responsibilities to become a disciple.Many people suggest that by living in the western world we will not suffer for our beliefs, but many people still suffer great persecution and rejection. Being a modern day disciple has many implications for every area of a person’s life and nearly every word or action is as a result of Jesusï¿½ influence on modern life.
A modern day disciple would find it difficult because our world is so materialistic and it would be extremely difficult for a person to give up the wealth gained from a job. Many items in society like drugs can be a barrier between a person and their path towards discipleship. However, some ways I would disagree with this statement; they believe that it is possible to be a true disciple of Jesus in the modern world. The dictionary states that the meaning of a disciple is pupil or a follower of a teacher.
Jesus is known as a teacher as he taught the meaning of God’s words and of the parables he preached. This means that anyone who learns from Jesus’ teachings, or follows them is a disciple. In the Bible, Jesus establishes a disciple as “someone who does what God wants him to do” (Mark 3:35). If somebody uses their life to do what Jesus taught, like fight world hunger or poverty, they are doing good work and they are therefore a disciple. By using examples of modern day disciples I can see that it is possible. Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa both made immense sacrifices to become disciples of God.
Martin Luther King devoted his life to stopping racism and gaining equality. Mother Teresa left her family, friends and her way of living to help people in need and those who suffered great poverty.Other examples of modern day disciples include Priests, Nuns, Bishops and the Pope.
A true disciple is someone who compares to the original twelve, and the twelve were not perfect. If true disciple is someone who tries his or her best to be a good disciple then it is possible to be a true disciple in the modern world. In conclusion, I believe that although modern day disciples already exist I also believe that it is easier said than done.
There is too much opposition and distraction. But there are people in the world today who have been able to and people who will be able to tackle these barriers and become true disciples of Jesus. If discipleship was impossible then we wouldn’t be here today as Christians.