Bella Vista Church of Christ



Randall Caselman


Jesus Shaped Discipleship


  Discipleship, the word means to become a learner, one who follows a teacher, submits to his teachings, but to Jesus it means more, much more.


What Jesus Expects of His Disciples...


  That we have no RIVALS. (Luke 14.26) “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” Jesus demands first loyalty. Anything less is unacceptable. This verse bothers some because of Jesus’ use of the word hate. There is no place for hate of others in the life of a disciple. Jesus is making a distinction between two types of love – Divine love and human love – Redemptive love and possessive love. One is selfish; the other places its object before self and all others. Of course we are to love our parents, wife, children, brothers and life. But this human love is no rival for our love of God. At Mount Sinai it was "no other gods before Me." Jesus insisted that first and foremost genuine discipleship demands loving God with all our being, "an unrivaled love." Paul declared in Colossians 1.18 that Christ must have preeminence in all things. Using this definition, are we a disciple?


  There must be no REFUSALS. (Luke 14.27) "Take up your cross and follow Me." Bonhoeffer wrote, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” Folk, a cross is not something we carry through life; a cross is something we die upon! Paul tells us in Romans six that we must "crucify the old man, and be raised to live a new life." Then in First Corinthians he indicates that we must "die daily to self, Satan, sin, and the world — and be alive to Christ."


  This was Paul’s message in Galatians 2.20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Discipleship is following the way of Jesus as seen in His garden prayer, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” We see such “way of the cross” dying in Paul’s statement: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Indeed, discipleship is the result of taking up the cross (dying) and following Jesus (living the new life). By this standard, can we say that we are His disciple?


  With Jesus, there can never be a RETREAT. (Luke 14.33) “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything cannot be My disciple.” The rich young ruler had to make a choice. Scripture indicates that he went away in sorrow because he was unwilling to pay the price of discipleship: Jesus before money. Another wanted to follow Jesus, but insisted that he should first go bury his father. The idea seemed to be that he would follow Jesus after his father’s death. Others vowed to follow Him after bidding their family good-bye. But Jesus had already indicated in Luke 9.62 that “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Christianity has always been a religion of perseverance, not giving up, keeping-on-keeping-on. Jesus kept saying to the seven churches of Asia, "he who overcomes will receive the reward." Discipleship is pictured as a fight to fight, a race to run, a walk to walk, a faith to keep. Using these Biblical terms, are we His disciple?


  Jesus admonishes us to count the cost of following Him. May God help each of us to be willing to meet the demands, pay the price of discipleship. Amen?


—Randall Caselman