The Call of Discipleship

Understand what it means to follow Jesus

Purpose

To understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The world has many definitions of what it means to be a Christian. However, in order to find the true meaning of discipleship, one must return to the stand of the Bible.

Lord and Christ

Key Scripture (Acts 2:36 NIV): 36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”


Important Takeaways

  • This is the heart of the first gospel sermon.
  • What do you think it means to call someone Lord? (King or Master)
  • What do you think it means to call someone Christ? (Savior)
  • Jesus is both Lord and Christ. We cannot accept him as our savior if we aren’t also willing to make him Lord of our lives.

Called to Follow Jesus

Key Scripture (Mark 1:14–18 NIV): 14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”


16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.


  • From the beginning, Jesus’ message was a call to follow him and be a fisher of men. Over the next 2-3 years, his disciples would learn what this meant.
  • He gave them a new mission: to be "fishers of men." Question: What do you think this means?
  • The earliest disciples left everything behind to follow Jesus!


Note: In this study, we will look at what following Jesus and being his disciple means.

Called to Deny Self

Key Scripture (Luke 9:23-26 NIV): 23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.


Important Takeaways

  • “If anyone” – Jesus’ call of discipleship is the same for all of us.
  • “He must deny himself and take up his cross daily” – following Jesus requires surrender and an absolute denial of self.
  • “Whoever loses his life” – only when we surrender our lives and deny ourselves will our lives be saved – a great paradox. If we try to hold onto our lives, we ultimately lose them!


Question: How do you think they would understand Jesus’ call to take up their crosses daily?

Question: Is this a decision that you have made in your life?

Called to Learn from Jesus

Key Scripture (Luke 11:1–4 NIV): One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”


  • The disciples looked to Jesus for instruction in prayer.
  • This is a model of how we need to look to Jesus for instruction in every area.
  • It is obvious that prayer should be a vital, daily part of every disciple’s life.


Question: What is your prayer life like?

Called to Put Jesus First

Key Scripture (Luke14:25–33 NIV): 25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.


28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’


31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.


Important Takeaways

  • “Disciple” – following Jesus is to be his “disciple.” Jesus didn’t use the word “Christian.”
  • Disciple means “follower, learner or apprentice.”


Question: What do you make of Jesus’ teaching here to “hate” our families? What does this mean?


  • Jesus before family – a disciple’s relationship with Christ must come before all other relationships, even family relationships. Jesus also teaches that we should love our families and care for them, but he comes first!
  • “Anything and everything” – following Jesus is an all-consuming commitment and takes everything we’ve got. Only total surrender is sufficient in the eyes of God.
  • “Counting the cost” – Jesus gives two examples to illustrate the need to count the cost of such a serious commitment. The call of discipleship is not one to be taken lightly!

Called to Make Disciples

Key Scripture (Matthew 28:18–20 NIV): 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 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.”


Important Takeaways

  • “Go and make disciples” – Jesus gave his followers a new purpose in life—making disciples of all nations. Just like when he initially called them (Mark 1:14-18), Jesus makes it clear that a disciple’s purpose is to teach others about him!


Question: Have you ever embraced the call of Jesus to make disciples?


  • “Teach them to obey everything” – Jesus spoke with all the authority in heaven and on earth, and every one of his teachings is important. Being a disciple is to pay close attention to and strive to obey all the teachings of Jesus.
  • “I’ll be with you always” – disciples of Jesus are never alone!

Called to love God and love our neighbors

Key Scripture (Matthew 22:34–40 NIV): 34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”


Important Takeaways

Question: What does God ultimately care about most?

  • When asked about what matters most in all the Law, Jesus spoke of love—love for God and love for our neighbors. Love is why disciples do what they do!
  • More than anything else, God wants a relationship with you. He loves you and he wants you to love him. Being a disciple is first and foremost about loving God with all of your heart, soul and mind. Self-denial and putting Jesus first is an outpouring of that relationship.
  • Jesus loved beyond measure and he calls us to love those around us as well. Disciples of Jesus compassionately love and serve those around them, both in meeting needs and in sharing the gospel of Jesus.


Question: Has this kind of love characterized your relationship with God and how you treat and view

those around you?

Closing Questions

  • Do you feel God calling you to a life of discipleship? How do you feel about that call?
  • Have you ever made the decision to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?
  • Are you ready to follow Jesus as his disciple?

Further Readings

Psalm 63:1–6 David had great love for God, and it shows

John 13:3435 We must imitate Jesus in how he loved

1 John 2:36 We must walk as Jesus did

Acts 11:1926 Disciples were called Christians first at Antioch

1 Corinthians 11:1 Follow the example of Christ