Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.
As Alexander the Great was moving east in his conquest of the world, he came upon a fortified city. Alexander demanded that the king and the citizens surrender. The king laughed and said, “Look at our strong walls. Why should I surrender to you?” So Alexander decided to give the king a demonstration. Near the city was a cliff. Alexander ordered his army to start marching toward that precipice. The city’s citizens and king watched with horror as the men marched closer and closer to the edge of the cliff. After several soldiers plunged to their deaths, Alexander halted the army and turned back to the king. The citizens realized there were no walls thick enough to protect themselves against that kind of radical commitment. They fell at Alexander’s feet, surrendering immediately. The radical loyalty those soldiers demonstrated toward Alexander the Great is the same kind of radical commitment Jesus Christ demands from those of us who want to be His disciples. And it is that kind of commitment Jesus talks about in the parables that address the cost of following Him.
In every political season, both parties promise everything under the sun if you will vote for them. “I will lower your taxes. I will make the world more secure. Vote for me.” The candidates do everything they can to try to garner as many votes as possible. But how different Jesus Christ was from today’s politicians. Sometimes it seems like Jesus isn’t trying to attract followers. It almost seems as if He is trying to discourage followers. And there is a reason for that.
Luke 14:25 says, “Now large crowds were going along with Him.” There were two phases to the ministry of Jesus Christ. There was the public ministry in which He did many miracles in order to garner a crowd. But then there was the private ministry in which Jesus talked about the cost of following Him. And we see the pivot between those two phases of Jesus’ ministry in this verse. Jesus looked at the great crowds that had been following Him and said to Himself, “It’s time to thin out the ranks. It’s time to pare down these people who say they want to be My disciples.” So Jesus, beginning in Luke 14:26, lays out the cost of being a true disciple of Christ.
Now, before we talk about the demands of being a disciple, it would be helpful to know the definition of a disciple. Matthew 28 is one of the seminal passages on discipleship. Verses 19 and 20 are familiar to us—we call them the Great Commission, Jesus’ final marching orders to the church. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The reason you and I exist, the reason we have been left on earth instead of being raptured when we were saved, is for one reason: we are to make disciples for Jesus Christ.
What is a disciple? A disciple is one who professes to have learned certain principles from another and maintains those principles in his life. In Jesus’ day, there were many rabbis who had their own followings. If there was a particular rabbi to whom a person was attracted, that person might choose to become the rabbi’s disciple. That is, they would attach themselves to that rabbi. They would go around with him and listen carefully to his teachings. But more importantly, they would emulate every activity of that rabbi’s life and make it a part of their life.
A disciple of Jesus is somebody who molds his or her life after the principles of Jesus. And the reason you and I are still here on earth is to go into our country, into the world, and make disciples of Jesus.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Becoming Salty Saints” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.