What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ?
Being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ means to learn from Him and to stay close to Him. These two requirements were essential for Christ’s disciples then, and likewise are necessary for followers of Christ today.
When Christ called His first disciples He simply said, “Follow Me.”
These humble fishermen responded by leaving their careers, their possessions, and even their families to follow Him (Matthew 4:18-22).
A parallel passage in Luke 5:1-11 uses the phrase “they forsook all” as they began this new journey with Jesus. The word “forsake” literally means that they turned their back on their former lives. It implies a choice and a commitment.
This wasn’t just a part-time project for them where they could change their minds in a few days and go back to their profession as fishermen. They left everything — and by doing so they were making a promise to complete the course and finish this new assignment.
By agreeing to follow Jesus they consented to be His students or His learners in the Jewish method of a Rabbinical school of discipleship. They recognised Him as a teacher and a leader, and they made this commitment to be His disciples.
After Jesus’ resurrection, His followers gathered on that hillside in Palestine to watch as He ascended back into heaven. The Lord took that opportunity to give them one more set of instructions (Matthew 28:19-20), but He also gives them an amazing message of encouragement, “…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
His earthly disciples realised that He was about to leave them to return to His Heavenly Father; but in this last time together, He helped them to understand that because He was God, they could actually be with Him for the rest of their lives.
It’s so important for Christ’s disciples today to understand this important truth as well. Being a disciple of Christ means spending time with Him. Even though Jesus is not physically present today, His followers can stay close to Him by spending time in His Word.
2. Christ’s disciples stay close to Him by making prayer a top priority. There was one other essential ingredient in Christ’s ministry with His followers — He prayed (Luke 9:18), He taught them to pray (Luke 11:1-4), and He expected them to pray (Luke 22:39-46).
God Himself established prayer as a way for Christ-followers to communicate directly with All-mighty God (Hebrews 4:14-16). Prayer proves that His disciples are dependent upon Him — and true disciples of Christ will be characterised by a vibrant prayer life.
Christ expects His disciples to follow Him — to learn from Him and to stay close to Him. That’s what He wanted from His followers during His earthly ministry and that is what He wants from His disciples today.