"Disciple” is not a contemporary or politically correct word, It is a word that draws its strength from ancient history and philosophy.
The Latin word “discipulus" is the English equivalent of “disciple.” It is a noun and is defined as “one who follows one's teaching."
There were disciples at least 500 years before Jesus was born. Aristotle, Socrates and Plato had disciples
In The Bible, “disciple” is a gospel word. It appears 268 times in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It appears only 26 times in the rest of the New Testament and twice (in Isaiah) in the Old Testament.
Since the New Testament was written in Greek, we need to focus on the word ”mathetes” as the equivalent to the English word “disciple.” The common definition of ‘mathetes” is almost identical to “discpulus” except it includes references to a “learner” or “apprentice.”
Apprentice implies working with a teacher or mentor to learn the necessary skills of the trade. The disciples of Jesus literally walked in the footsteps of the Lord and served as His apprentices . As Jesus had promised, He was teaching them to become "fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19, King James Version).
One of the underlying reasons I consider myself a “disciple of Christ” or “servant of Christ” is because each of these tags requires a close personal connection with the Lord, a respect for the Savior’s authority and a willingness to follow Him wherever He leads me.
There is a church in Livonia, Michigan that understands the significance of the word “disciple". Their mission statement is “Memorial Church of Christ is a family of disciples making disciples. Our mission as disciples is to love God, love people, and serve like Jesus.”
The basis for the mission statement can be found in the words of Jesus:
- Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, New International Version)
- Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34-40)
Ironically, the first disciples we meet in the gospels are disciples of John the Baptist (John 1:35).
It is a few days after Jesus has been baptized by John. John is talking to two of his disciples when Jesus walks past Him. Turning in the direction of Jesus, John the Baptist declares: “Look, the Lamb of God!” After hearing these words, the two disciples immediately decide to follow Jesus and from that day forward call him “Rabbi”, which means “Teacher” (John 1:36-38).
The example set by these two men emphasizes that a disciple follows the instructions of his teacher and these two men had selected the greatest teacher in human history.
When Andrew went to recruit his brother Simon Peter as a disciple, he told his brother that he had found the Messiah. Andrew was illustrating that being a disciple of Jesus Christ empowers you to introduce others to the Son of God.
Being a disciple is not for the timid. Jesus warns His disciples: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, New International Version).
If you have read my stories on examiner.com, you know that I have Parkinson's disease and last year I had heart surgery to replace the mitral valve. In two weeks, my current contract expires and I have already started the search for a new job.
As a disciple of Christ, I am not discouraged. In fact, I came up with the following anagram for disciple:
It helps me to stay on the narrow path of truth established by Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, who was and is and always shall be my Savior and Lord.