Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus calling people to become His disciples. In order to become the disciple of Jesus, one should respond to His call wholeheartedly. We see this call and response in the life of Matthew. In Matt 9:9 we read “As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.”
It was Matthew’s response that made him a disciple of Jesus. ‘Matthew got up and immediately followed Jesus’. The word “immediately” means without hesitation, a spontaneous response to the call.
Matthew responded wholeheartedly, without any hesitation to the call of Jesus and taught us a very important lesson about discipleship. Discipleship is not optional. We are all called to follow Jesus.
The Epistle of James states “be doers of the word, and not merely hearers…” James 1:22-25. Here lies the difference between living as a devotee and becoming a true disciple of Jesus.
A devotee is one who hears the word of God but goes away and does nothing, someone who is merely concerned about the externals and not a deep inner change. They go for retreats, pilgrimages and adorations, but there is little or no change at all in them. Their life style continue to remain the same.
Alternatively, a disciple is one who hears the Word and applies it to his life. It is one who FOLLOWS THE LIFE STYLE OF JESUS!
In Matthew 10:25 Jesus says “it is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master.” A disciple is one who imitates the Master (Eph 5:1). The call of Jesus in the Gospels is to become a disciple and not just a pious devotee.
Discipleship is “Evangelising oneself in the power of the Holy Spirit.” We need to open our lives to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, so that every area of our lives mirror Christ. To learn true discipleship, let’s consider the events from Lk 5:1-11: “Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, Jesus asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the people from the boat.” Jesus wanted to teach Simon a lesson and so he steps into Simon’s boat. Jesus meets Simon where he is at. He steps into the life of Simon Peter. The only way Jesus will teach us His mysteries and the secrets of His Kingdom is by stepping into our lives the way He stepped into the life of Simon. Jesus will not teach us from outside of our lives. He wants to come in.
Jesus doesn’t finish by just meeting us in our lives. We hear Jesus ask Simon to put out (the boat) a little from the land.” Any fisherman will tell you that fish is caught in the deep rather than in the shallow water.
If we want to become His disciples, two things are very important: Allow Jesus to step into your boat (LIFE) and allow Him to move you from shallow to the deep waters. For this to happen we need ongoing formation, including systematic teachings and training. Together, these will bring about a NEW LIFE STYLE!! Fr. Tom Forrest says “An ignorant preacher is more dangerous than sin!” It is formation that will take us from the shallow waters to the deep waters and make us disciples.
Jesus said “you follow me not for who I am, but because I give you something to eat.” Discipleship is the commitment to follow a person. Both the call and response are important to make us His disciples.
What does Jesus call us to do?
(i) To Be With Jesus – Mk 3:14
(ii) To Share the Good News!
Pope John Paul II in Ecclesia in Asia section 23 says “Mission is contemplative action and an active contemplation. Therefore, a missionary who has no deep experience of God in prayer and contemplation will have little spiritual influence or missionary success”. Mother Teresa says “Evangelisation is to have Jesus in our hearts and then take HIM to the hearts of others!!”. Only a true disciple can do this.
A Disciple is one who has JOY
J – Jesus first
O – Others next
Y – Yourself last
For a disciple, Jesus should always come first. Nothing else should take that place. Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God.” Christianity is others-centred. We should be prepared to reach out to others, and finally, to ourselves.
But for what purpose does he call?
He calls us to reveal the Father. Jesus wants us to know and pray to the Father. A disciple should have a Trinitarian Relationship. The Father, Son and Spirit should be equally important within the life of a disciple.
He calls us to bear fruits. Gal 5:22,23 states “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”. Jesus calls us to be His disciples so that we can bear fruits. A tree is known by its fruits!!
Finally, he calls us to share in His Cross. “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” Phil 1:29. A disciple is called to share in the sufferings of Christ, to carry his cross daily. It is important for a disciple to learn to endure suffering, to truly follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
Ecclesia in Asia section 49 says “However important programmes of formation and strategies for evangelization may be, in the end it is martyrdom which reveals to the world the very essence of the Christian message. The word itself, ‘martyr’ means witness, and those who have shed their blood for Christ have borne the ultimate witness to the true value of the Gospel.
Colin is a full-time Catholic missionary. He is the founder & Director of SPREAD YOUR WINGS – A ministry that focuses on Christian Leadership and In-depth discipleship. Colin is also the Senior Coordinator of the People of Praise Covenant Community in Bangalore.He is married to Priya and they have two children Michael and Marika. They reside in Bangalore, India