A disciple is a learner; to make disciples means to make learners. Jesus picked twelve original disciples, but He gave the opportunity to many others. The rich young ruler we read about in Mark 10 had equal opportunity to be a disciple, the thirteenth one in fact. However, the rich man wasn’t able to say a full “yes”. He shared with Jesus he had no trouble following the commandments but he couldn’t say “yes” fully because he also loved his money. In Luke 9, we see more opportunities that Jesus gave for people to follow fully after Him.
As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” ( 9:57-62)
“Follow”, in the Greek, means to ” be in the same way with“; specifically, Jesus was connecting it to being a disciple, a learner. If Jesus was anything, he was an extremist. Extreme in love, grace, even offense. He completely turned the religious culture upside down when he came to bring the kingdom of God on earth. He is unpredictable yet true to his nature. What is permissible in some of his relationships isn’t in others. The reason why is because he knows us inside and out and he is not interested in servants, formulas, and exploitation. He is interested in disciples who are his friends.
We had a chance to serve the Lord through Missionary work in a third-world country when my hubby and I were in our early thirties. I had lived in the same town all my life and I couldn’t wait to leave it. I wanted to be able to say of my life I gave up everything to follow Jesus, my comfort, my family, my possessions. We shortly learned that He wasn’t asking us to follow Him to a land of MSG and squatty potties. He was asking us to stay in our suburban Southern California city and live a life style of being in the same way with Him in the midst of convenience and materialism. This is obviously not everyone’s journey or process. This was ours and I mourned the loss of a dream when we said “no” to leaving California. I admit I felt like staying was unadventurous and the unattractive choice. It wasn’t the sexy/flashy choice for sure. When Jesus says, “Follow me,” it means to be in the same way with Him. I was looking for something in my devotion and discipleship that would have in a counter-cultural way been self-fulfilling. The question isn’t what are you willing to give up; the question is how are you willing to live. Do you have excuses in your heart, even ones that seem good, like the disciples in Luke 9 who wanted to say goodbye or bury their deceased? While that may be okay for someone else in another situation what does it look like for you to say a full “yes” to be in the same way with in your friendship with God?
In Matthew 5:8 Jesus tells gives us, his disciples, a challenging admonition, “Be perfect just as my father in heaven is perfect.” This verse used to really confuse me and honestly make me feel like there wasn’t much hope for me. I mean I probably blew that status in the womb! The meaning of the word “perfect” – “Sholem” in Hebrew, means, “Whole heart” it is a word that describes fullness and implies wholeness. The Greek equivalent for that word is “perfect” so when Jesus said to be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect, He was telling us to be whole-hearted (all in) as the Father is! Does this encourage anyone else in his or her process? I am not perfect but I can be and choose to be whole-hearted.
Redefined by Grace,