Discipleship: Christianity and Jesus

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Teachers around the time when Jesus lived thought that learning was such that the people who wanted to learn should come to them to be taught. But Jesus felt differently and rather than waiting for people to come to him, he went out to find them and then chose them to be his followers. He called them disciples and this word means one who learns. But Jesus chose his disciples carefully as we are told in Mark 1:16-20 and also in Mark 3:13-19. In the first passage, Jesus appoints his first four disciples, Simon, Andrew, James and John. Jesus said to them "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Mark 1:17) In Mark 2:13-17, Jesus calls up the fifth disciple, Levi who was a tax collector, and Jesus later renamed him Matthew. But Levi was not called in the same way as the other four disciples. Jesus was with him at the tax collector's booth and Jesus simply said, "Follow me" (Mark 2:14) and he rose and followed Jesus. These five men responded immediately to Jesus and this is very surprising as he is a man who they have never met before. It is quite clear that this idea of discipleship for the first disciples is very important and that Jesus is planning on building his faith in them and he wants them to spread the word around to the people. (Mark 3:14) Jesus appointed 12 disciples in total and this number was significant because each one represented one of the twelve tribes of Israel. (Mark 3:13-19) Jesus gave them the authority to cast out demons and preach to his people and they were known as his companions. It seems strange for him to choose those specific people as his twelve because he could have chosen from many of his disciples, but he chose a specific twelve to be his companions and apostles.

When Jesus chose his apostles, there were two unusual choices: Levi and Simon the Zealot. Levi was a strange choice because he was a tax collector who had managed to get more money out of people than they need pay and so many people hated him and many other tax collectors. Simon the Zealot was an unusual choice because he was a zealot and although they had a strong belief in God, they hated the Romans, and being ruled by foreigners. In the mission of the twelve, Jesus calls them to him and sends them in two's saying that they have the authority over evil spirits. (Mark 6: 7-13) Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town, and if any place will not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet." (Mark 6:8-11) The mission means that the disciples must face either rejection or acceptance and we can see many qualities displayed by the twelve disciples. They have to rely on other people and as it is said in Morley's passage on discipleship, "For they set out with nothing but the word of God in their hearts." When Jesus tells the disciples about the cost of discipleship (Mark 8:27-33) he means that they should be prepared to put God and his commandments first before anything else, and they must be prepared to suffer for their beliefs. Jesus told them that the most important commandment is "Love God and your neighbour as yourself," (Exodus 20: 3-17) and many disciples throughout the ages have made many sacrifices to try and put this teaching into practise. When Jesus said to take up the cross, we can assume that because we all have a cross to bear, we should take up our vocation, and that means for us to follow Jesus regardless of the sacrifices we have to make. When we are told we should follow him, it means that we should travel down the same road as Jesus and suffer the many trials of being a disciple. But, in Mark 10:29-31 we are told about the rewards of discipleship and the strange reward they receive for their suffering. Jesus says this to the disciples after he tells them the story of the Rich Young Man.

In this passage, the rich young man asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him that he must give up his wealth, but the man is unable to do so. The...
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