The Work of Discipleship
A disciple is ‘one who wishes to follow and learn from another’. A
disciple believes in and helps to spread the teachings of another.
Jesus gathered disciples around him to help him with his mission. The
number of disciples he chose, twelve, is significant. Jesus links the
twelve disciples in the New Testament and the twelve tribes of Israel
in the Old Testament. This is the connection between the Old and the
When Jesus called them, they instantly left everything to follow him.
Well, Simon (Peter), Andrew, James and John did anyway. The Rich Young
Man could not take the final leap of faith. He had kept the Ten
Commandments since he was young. All he needed to do was sell all his
belongings, give the money to the poor and follow Jesus. But he was
very rich and did not want have a great enough faith. Jesus told Levi
(Matthew) to follow him and he did. Jesus chose twelve men and they
came to him. They were chosen to share in Jesus’ mission, to bring
others into the community and to continue the mission when Jesus was
The disciples were given a three-fold mission; to heal the sick, to
drive out demons and to spread the word of Jesus. This would be tough
and would involve sacrifice. In ‘The Mission’, Jesus says:
“Don’t take anything with you on your journey except
a stick – no bread, no beggar’s bag, no money in your pocket.
Wear sandals but don’t carry an extra shirt.”
But they made these sacrifices because in order to join God’s
community they had to drop everything in their life and follow Jesus.
This is the nature of discipleship and shows the urgency of the
mission. Although the mission was urgent, difficulties were still
encountered. They were shown prejudice and discrimination throughout
their mission. But they kept going.
The disciples had to listen very carefully to the words of Jesus in
order to learn all they needed to know. He explained a lot of things
to the disciples, for example through parables. He explains to them
the Parable of the Sower. He tells them that the sower sows God’s
message and the four different surfaces they land on represent the
different ways in which people react to it. The seeds that land on the
rocky ground are like people who receive the message gladly. However,
the message of God does not sink in deep enough so whenever
persecution comes because of the message they give it up instantly.
Other people are like those sown in the good soil. They hear the
message, accept it, and bear fruit....