WHO is the finest servant of God that ever lived?— That’s right, Jesus Christ. Do you think that we can be like him?— Well, the Bible says that he set the example for us to follow. And he invites us to be his disciples.
Do you know what it means to be a disciple of Jesus?— It means several things. First, we must learn from him. But that is not all. We must also really believe what he says. If we do, we will do what he tells us.
Many people say that they believe in Jesus. Do you think all of them are really his disciples?— No, most of them are not. They may go to church. But many of them have never taken time to learn what Jesus taught. Really, only those who follow Jesus’ example are his disciples.
Let’s talk about some of those who were Jesus’ disciples when he was a man on earth. One of the first to become a disciple is Philip. Philip goes to find his friend Nathanael (also called Bartholomew), whom you see sitting under a tree. When Nathanael comes to Jesus, Jesus says: ‘See, here is an honest man, a true son of Israel.’ Nathanael is surprised and asks: ‘How do you know me?’
“Before Philip called you, while you were under the fig tree, I saw you,” Jesus says. Nathanael is amazed that Jesus knew exactly where he was, so Nathanael says: “You are the Son of God, you are King of Israel.”
Others became disciples of Jesus the day before Philip and Nathanael did. These are Andrew and his brother Peter as well as John and perhaps John’s brother James. (John 1:35-51) After a while, however, these four go back to their fishing business. Then one day while Jesus is walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he sees Peter and Andrew letting down a fishing net into the sea. Jesus calls to them: “Come after me.”
Going a little farther, Jesus sees James and John. They are in a boat with their father, fixing their fishing nets. Jesus calls them to follow him too. What would you have done if Jesus had called you? Would you have gone with him right away?— These men know who Jesus is. They know that he has been sent by God. So at once they leave their fishing business and follow Jesus.
When these men became Jesus’ followers, did it mean that afterward they always did what was right?— No. You may remember that these men even argued among themselves about which one of them was the greatest. But they listened to Jesus, and they were willing to change. If we are willing to change, we too can be disciples of Jesus.
Jesus invited all sorts of people to be his disciples. Once, a rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked how to gain everlasting life. When the rich ruler said that he had been obeying God’s commandments from his childhood on, Jesus invited him: “Come be my follower.” Do you know what happened?—
Well, when the man learned that being a disciple of Jesus had to be more important than being rich, he was very unhappy. He did not become Jesus’ disciple because he loved his money more than he loved God.
After Jesus had been preaching for nearly a year and a half, he chose 12 of his disciples to be apostles. The apostles were men whom he sent out to do special work. Do you know their names?— Let’s see if we can learn them. Look at their pictures here, and see if you can say their names. Then try to say their names from memory.
Eventually, one of the 12 apostles became bad. He was Judas Iscariot. Afterward, another disciple was chosen to become an apostle. Do you know his name?— It was Matthias. Later, Paul and Barnabas also became apostles, but they were not part of the 12.
As we learned in Chapter 1 of this book, Jesus took an interest in young children. Why did he do that?— Because he knew that they could become his disciples too. In fact, children can often say things in a way that can even cause grown-ups to listen and to want to learn more about the Great Teacher.
Many women also became disciples of Jesus. Some traveled with him when he went to other cities to preach. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna did that. They may also have helped to prepare his meals and wash his clothes.
Do you want to be a disciple of Jesus?— Remember, just saying that we are one of his disciples does not make us one. We must act like one of his disciples wherever we are, not just when we go to Christian meetings. Can you think of some places where it is important for us to act like a disciple of Jesus?—
Yes, we should do so at home. But still another place is at school. What you and I should never forget is that to be a true disciple of Jesus, we must act like he did all day long, every day, no matter where we are.
JESUS—THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE
Becoming a disciple of Christ is a serious responsibility. Jesus leaves no doubt about what is involved. Some would-be followers may be shocked by what he says.