Growing up, I played competitive tennis, golf, soccer, and football. I was good at many of these sports, but I was only great at one: golf, which I picked up at the age of thirteen and continue to enjoy playing at a high-level today. Throughout high school, I felt drawn...
Christianity is not a club.
Jesus does not want cheerleaders or groupies. Following Christ is not about T-shirts, slogans, or hashtags. Jesus calls us to be children of his Father. He calls us to be his disciples.
Because Jesus has a unique role in God’s plan of salvation, he is more than an example. The best mirror we find in the Gospel accounts is not Jesus, but his disciples.
15 Marks of a Disciple of Jesus
Here are fifteen things we learn about being a disciple of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke.
1. A disciple is called (Luke 5:1–11).
Jesus didn’t need a recruiter. He called and his disciples “left everything and followed him.” Likewise, God calls us as disciples, not because we are worthy, but because of his grace (2 Timothy 1:9).
2. A disciple is taught (Luke 6:20–49).
Jesus spent a lot of time teaching his disciples about reality. Who did the Messiah come for? Who is worthy of salvation? What is the kingdom of God? We are just as ignorant and resistant to the truth; we need instruction.
3. A disciple is a follower (Luke 7:11).
Inherent in the definition of a disciple is one who does not choose his own direction, causes, or values. Disciples follow Jesus.
4. A disciple is aware of the kingdom of God (Luke 8:9–10).
Jesus reveals truth to his disciples that is obscured to others. Because God’s kingdom is not worldly or political, we must be taught the values and requirements of the King.
5. A disciple is a servant (Luke 9:14–17).
Jesus’ disciples got their hands dirty, distributing multiplied food to the hungry people. Sometimes walking with Jesus means picking up bread crusts and fish bones.
6. A disciple is sent to proclaim the kingdom of God (Luke 9:1–6; 10:1–12).
Jesus sent his twelve apostles and then seventy-two others as laborers in a plentiful harvest (Luke 10:2). As those sent with a message to proclaim, his disciples were in danger as lambs among wolves (Luke 10:3) because they were announcing a different king. The heavenly kingdom they announced valued peace (Luke 10:5) and healing (Luke 10:9), not riches and power. Challenging existing authority structures is often unpopular.
7. A disciple confesses Jesus as the Christ (Luke 9:18–20).
Peter famously confessed Jesus as “the Christ of God.” This is the most important question we face as well: Who do you say Jesus is? We must answer this daily, reorienting our priorities, passions, and purpose around the Messiah.
8. A disciple is a witness (Luke 10:23–24).
The apostles walked with Jesus. Many longed to see what they saw. This is part of God’s “gracious will” (Luke 10:21). We also witness the love and power of Jesus through his Word and his work in the world. The arena is much bigger now, but his disciples still sit court-side.
9. A disciple denies himself and takes up his cross (Luke 9:23–27).
A disciple’s life was not glamorous or lucrative. It was full of hardship and danger. Make no mistake—if your highest values are comfort, peace, and safety, you will lose your life. But if you lose your life for Jesus’ sake, you will save it.
10. A disciple is committed (Luke 9:57–62).
Jesus teaches that following him is not easy; it requires everything. “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
11. A disciple is a cross-bearer and a cost-counter (Luke 14:26–33).
Following Jesus is serious and costly. It may cost family and friends; it may cost time and comfort; it may even cost your life. Jesus says, “Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
12. A disciple is rebuked by Jesus (Luke 18:15–17).
When we submit to Jesus as Lord, we acknowledge his perfection, wisdom, and authority to correct us—and we need a lot of correction! The disciples were rebuked by Jesus, and if we do not know the same, we’re probably not encountering the Lord. This ongoing process happens as we read his Word and interact with his people. God’s rebuke is evidence of his love for his children.
13. A disciple praises God (Luke 19:33–40).
When disciples see Jesus clearly, the “King who comes in the name of the Lord,” they rejoice and praise the Father who sent his Son. Following Jesus is not primarily about doing, but worshiping.
14. A disciple spends time with his Master (Luke 22:11, 39, 45).
In the hours before his arrest, Jesus yearned for time with his disciples. They ate with him, talked with him, and sang with him. As God changes our hearts and gives us new desires, chief among them will be love for him. We seek and spend time with those we love.
15. A disciple is redeemed, comforted, and dispatched to the world (Luke 24:36–53).
Jesus seeks out his disciples after his resurrection, though they were absent at his crucifixion and burial. He speaks peace and comfort to them. He died for their sins and rose from the grave so they also could have new life. As he sent his disciples into the world with the promise of the Spirit (v. 49), so he also sends us.
Disciple, Will You Take Up Your Cross?
There is no place for pride among those who follow Jesus (Luke 22:24–27). We are called, taught, directed, equipped, and corrected by our Master. We cannot meet our greatest need—reconciliation with God—and we often bristle at this reality.
But Jesus is a loving Savior. When we confess our pride, he graciously restores us. Our sin-debt has already been paid, so he doesn’t hold it against us. He is also the Risen King, who replaces our pride with humility, through the work of his Spirit within us.
Jesus continues to call us today. Will you take up your cross as a disciple and follow the One who was taken up on the cross for you?