Key Verses: Matthew 4:18-22; Matthew 10:24-25; Luke 14:25, 26; Mark 3:13, 14
Key Issues: What is discipleship, its essence? Who may be a disciple? How does one become a disciple? What requirements does one have to satisfy in order to become a disciple?
The Scripture passages listed above document the occasions where Jesus, as he inaugurated his ministry, called various people to come and follow him, thereby beginning the process of discipleship. These occasions of calling are both interesting and informative. They may also be seen as normative, showing us the rudiments of what was involved in becoming a disciple of Jesus. From that, we may extrapolate to discover what it would be for those today who want to become disciples of Jesus.
Several observations seem apropos:
a. Discipleship was initiated by an invitation given out by Jesus. In some cases, it was issued directly to the person involved. In several cases, it came by way of one already called to follow. Do you think a person can become a disciple of Jesus without first having heard a “call?” If so, what shall we say to those who claim no such calling? Are they excused from any obligation to follow? If not, do you think there is anything a person can to do help precipitate a call?
b. It is intriguing that the people Jesus called were all busy people. Do you think there is any significance to that fact? How would that affect the dynamics of today?
c. Although the people Jesus called were all busy – some apparently quite profitably – they all abandoned their activities “at once,” “immediately.” Why do you think they did that? What implications does their activity have for people who want to follow Jesus today?
d. After noting the various kinds of people Jesus called to be his disciples, what conclusions would you draw about who it is that may be a disciple? Is discipleship limited to the devout? Is it limited economic standing? Is it only for the educated? Or, perhaps, should it be limited to the respectable people of earth?
e. How would you define discipleship? Would it be something like, “A disciple is one who has heard the call of God, and has willingly become an apprentice of Jesus in order to learn his teachings, incorporate them into one’s own life, then exercise whatever abilities are at hand to inform and invite others to do the same?” Is discipleship a matter of giving primary allegiance to Jesus, or total allegiance? If it involves total allegiance, how should one go about attending to other allegiances that seem proper in life, like care of family, gainful employment, responsibility to community, etc.?
f. What is the difference between being a disciple and being a church member? Is there a difference? Should there be a difference? How would you define the difference?
g. Once Jesus called the disciples and they responded, they became a group, a community. What benefits came to them as a result of that sense of community? Do you see any connections between their community and the modern church?
h. In John 15:5, Jesus gave that famous “I am the vine, you are the branches” talk. Define the major lesson of that teaching? What is the primary element of discipleship taught in this verse?