Memory Verse: ‘Then said Jesus unto his disciples, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Matt. 16:24)
Text: Matt. 16: 24-26, Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23-26, 1King 19:19-21, Luke 14:25-33
Who is a disciple?
A disciple primarily refers to dedicated followers of Jesus, he actively imitates both the life and teaching of the master. It was a deliberate apprenticeship which made the fully formed disciple a living copy of the master. ‘A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40)’. Following the pathway of discipleship without neglecting any of the requirements is what can make a person to be perfectly trained. When a man is not perfectly trained he cannot be like his master and once he failed the identity test he ceases to be called a disciple. Also of note is the word disciple comes from discipline, just the same way apprenticeship can only be completed through discipline, any Christian that is not disciplined can never be a disciple.
What is the Pathway?
The pathway of discipleship is that path where all the making process to becoming like the master is made, ahead of the path is the Master himself who daily guides the disciple on the path to follow. Psalm 16:11- ‘Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.’ 1Pet. 2:21 – ‘For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps. Two things are certain from these two verses, the one leading us whom we are to follow in the path is Jesus Christ and the path leads to eternal life.
Over the years the greatest heartfelt of God has been the making of disciples and that was the reason why, when Jesus was leaving the only thing he told the disciples was that they are to replicate themselves. He never gave the disciples two responsibilities but just one which was to make disciples of all Nations (Matt. 28: 19-20(NIV) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Why Do Many Choose not to Follow the path?
Even though Jesus Christ stated this requirement but why do many choose to look the other way? One of the key reasons is the ‘Cost of Discipleship’ which is not paid by money but rather paid by the life of the disciples. Remember when Jesus described the Cost of Discipleship in (John 6:54-67)? The Bible says many went back because the cost was too much for them to follow. The pathway was not exciting, it was not acceptable to others in the world, but the only one that leads to eternal life is the pathway of discipleship because that is the only path where all the costs and strength required for the journey are already loaded and made available.
How Does Jesus Call His Disciples?
Jesus Called All Disciples: The first thing Jesus does is to call His Disciples; (Matt.4:18-22) requesting them to follow him. If a man has not been called by Jesus it will be impossible for such a man to be a disciple. A disciple first starts as a follower, therefore if you see Jesus first called them to follow him after then they became a disciple and later some were appointed Apostles. One key difference to note here, we are all called to discipleship but Apostleship is by appointment; one is about life and integrity, and the other is about the gift. (Mark 3:13, It must be noted that Apostleship does not precede discipleship, that was why the reason Christ first called the disciples was to be with him to learn and become like him. Power, Anointing, etc are good but they are secondary to discipleship which was the Mistake of Simeon in (Acts 8: 9-24)
- His Call is not by Enforcement but Willingness: Even though Jesus’ disciples were called anytime he calls them, it is not by enforcement. Jesus will never force himself into anyone’s life. (Mark 10:17-27, Rev. 3:20)
- His Call is to individual and not collective: Even though Jesus had several disciples, when he calls men it is an individual call, even if two people are together, he still calls them separately (Gal. 1:15, Matt. 4:19). A point of note is the fact that we have places where two brothers were together and he called them together, even though physically it seems they are called together but they are not together, it was an individual call like Caleb and Joshua (Joshua 14: 7-12)
- His call is first to Him and Nothing more: Jesus’ call to make disciples is not for personal gain but rather to become like him, learn of him and walk like him. The first reason why he calls them is not to become an Apostle, even though they will be one in the future but rather to learn under his feet and become like him. (Mark 3:13-19; 4:35-36; 6:7-12). He called them and never sent them out until the 6th chapter, they spent the intervening hours with Himself. It is most important to notice that He called them to Him that they might be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach. First, they might be with Him, and I am sure you will agree with me that everything depends upon our being with the Lord Jesus Christ. How otherwise could we possibly serve Him in a way that will be acceptable to Him?
We are called to be with Him also that we might take a character from Him, for in our service to the Lord how it is done counts for very much. The Spirit of God may be able to use one who is very unlike the Lord, but such a one is scarcely a vessel meet for the Master’s use, and so we need to be with Him that we might take a character from Him. We are formed by the company we keep — everyone knows that.
You may be sure of this, that those who go forth thus to serve Him at His call, who have passed through the experience of the preceding chapters, will serve Him successfully and according to His mind.
Mary understood this when she met the Lord (Luke 10:42). Food is good but the most important thing is sitting at the feet of Jesus, Ministry may be good, prophecy and anointing are good but is better if we spend more time learning under his feet, such that our going out will be an offshoot of a time we have spent with him and not vice versa.
What are the Pathways that every disciple must pass?
- The Call is first to follow: (Mark 1:17, Matt. 4:19 (AMP)). When Christ Call men the first statement is ‘follow me. Why was it that always that is the first statement? Because he you will learn a lot more from looking and walking with him than from teaching. Today, a true disciple that follows Christ will learn much more from fellowship and devotion with Christ than any other means, including sermons. For instance, you don’t learn how to hear the voice of God, it is in fellowship that you understand his voice. Therefore, our need to follow him is much more for acquittances and fellowship in becoming like him and pouring more of himself to us which we cannot get by any teaching most times.
Key Characteristics of the Pathway
- The Pathway of loneliness– (Luke 9: 61-62, Luke 14: 25-27) The Pathway of discipleship, even though it is a way several people are walking and following to be like the master, in the actual sense it is a lonely road. It is a road that typifies that ancient word the ‘Saint Must Walk Alone.
- The Pathway of persecution – (2Tim. 3:12, Phil. 1:29) Kindly note that we are not suffering for sin, sickness etc for Christ but we are suffering for standing for the truth because the path has its requirement which contradicts the world, it becomes a must for a saint to suffer persecution. We are not to suffer as a thief or murdered but only for the course of the gospel as a disciple (1 Pet.4:15)
- The Pathway of Obedience: (John 10:25-29) If anyone will follow this path, obedience to the master is a must, even when we don’t understand, but because we know that he has better knowledge than us, he knows better than us, and his ways are perfect, we must always obey, without obedience the disciple will fall into sin and temptation. It is obedience that can keep us on the path, that will prevent the evil one from gaining access to us. He alone is the good shepherd (Psalm 23: 1-)
- The Pathway of Faith and Trust: (Luke 9: 57-59, Luke 10:3-4, Luke 9: 1-3). In the pathway, the saviour expects you to look to God alone for sustenance, since your message is to change the world, you cannot expect them to be your source of sustenance. They will have several challenges but the saviour has promised we are more than conquerors. To all the disciples they face challenging times but their trust in God and the master kept them on the path. Don’t look at the storm or the torn on the pathway, look to the masters, he has power and guidance against the torn
- The Pathway of Learning: (Matt. 11: 28-30, Luke 24:27). One key thing that Jesus continues to do on the pathways is to continue to teach the disciples and they also must continue to learn. One of the greatest tragedies is to think that a disciple does not need the teaching of the master, as the scriptures say; a disciple can never be higher than his master (Matt. 10:24, John 15: 5-7). It must always be a point of note on the pathways that, learning is what makes the journey worth progressing because, the light of his word each day, brightens the path of the disciples. Never say the learning is enough, continue to learn like Paul the Apostle (Phil. 3:10) it is in learning that we know him more, and it is in knowing that we fellowship with him the more.
- The Pathway of Prayer: (Matt.14:23, Mark.1:35, Matt.6:9-13). The disciples never asked Jesus how to preach, nor how to make money for the vast evangelistic work ahead of them but the only question and request was, to teach us how to pray (Luke 11: 1). Prayer is to the disciples what oxygen is to a human, it is the lifeline of the disciples because that is where he derives his strength and ability to prepare for challenging days and to combat challenges that can arise.
- The Pathway of Waiting: (Acts 1:4) One thing about the pathway is that it is not an expressway nor a straight line. There are several waiting on the way which is part of the journey, bus stops, mountains to climb, Valleys etc and all these are what he uses to make his disciples. The disciples waited Until Luke chapter 6(Luke 6:12-15). The disciples had to wait for the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
- The Pathway of Discouragement /Encouragement: (John21:3-8, Luke 22:42) Because the Journey length is continuous and the road has several bends like the experience of the pilgrims in Pilgrim’s progress, discouragement does set in. Imagine those that Christ laboured on for almost three and half years going fishing? It was discouragement but the grace is that in those times God always comes to encourage us. We must not expect encouragement on the Journey from anyone if it comes fine but if not let’s move on with God and be encouraged by our Master. Remember because it is the same road he knows all the challenges (Heb. 2: 18, Heb. 4:15).
The Configuration of the Way
- The Pathway is not bi-directional: (Luke 9:62) The way is not bi-directional, one cannot afford to look back on the road, once you have set to go on the pathway anything that turns you back turns you to damnation. It may be rough sometimes but there is existing grace to keep going on the road.
- The Pathway is the Only Path for the Disciple – (Matt. 6:24, Luke 14: 33): Because for a disciple to follow that path, he must have left every other path and the only path remaining for him is the path of discipleship. A point of note is that only one path leads each disciple to the expected end of God for them.
- The Path leads to eternal life: (Matt. 7:13-14, John 14:6) Every path has an end and the end of the pathway of discipleship is eternal life. Do we just get eternal life in heaven? (John 17:3), we must constantly have the seed of eternal life inside us so that we can walk toward the place our heart longs for.
Victuals Required on the Pathway!
As much as we are looking at the pathway, we must also look at those things we must be prepared with that can aid our navigation on the path.
The First thing a disciple picks is the cross, which he must carry to the end of the way, anyway, if he drops it he fails to be a disciple. What is the Cross? The cross is the totality of Christ’s life, teaching, instructions, corrections and discipline required to be followed ((Matt. 16:24). One thing that we must know is that suffering and challenges are not cross, but you as an individual are expected to pick the Cross yourself, it is not to be put on you.
Some of the victuals are mentioned in the book of (Eph. 6: 10-18). All the Disciples of the old displaced all the armours for them to be victorious on this path. Even though we have described how the path looks like but with the right victuals the journeys get sweeter each day. The path gets difficult for men or women without the right victuals like the ten virgins (Matt. 25: 1-13)
Blessings of Being Discipled by the Master!
- They Have Access to the Mysteries and Secrets of God: (Luke 10:23-24, Mark 4: 34, Mark 4: 11-12, Luke 24:44-45, Matt.15:15, Psalm 25:14). The disciples have access to the mysteries of God, while Jesus teaches others, he poured himself into the disciples, he explained to them parables, he gives clarity to human unanswered questions. That is one of the key blessings of being a disciple.
- They have the Grace of becoming like Christ: (John 14: 12, Acts 11: 26). It is a rear privilege to be able to walk like Christ and become like him. No other religion has that type of opportunity of becoming exactly like the master.
- They have the opportunity of being chosen as an Apostle: (Luke 6:12-13, Matt. 10: 1-4). Jesus had to pray before he chooses his Apostles and that is based on the disciple’s commitment and heart conditions, Jesus had many disciples but only 12 Apostles. This defines walking and Working for God. He gave the Apostles so much power and authority including heaven (Rev. 21: 14).
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