Disciples vs. Followers

13 Jesus went out beside the lake again. The whole crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he continued along, he saw Levi, Alphaeus’ son, sitting at a kiosk for collecting taxes. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” Levi got up and followed him. (Mark 2:13-14, CEB)

My wife takes Tai Chi classes. For the past two years we have gone to a Chinese New Year celebration where two masters of Tai Chi hold demonstrations with their classes on the different forms of Tai Chi. This year one of the teachers was honored for 30 years of learning and teaching these methods. I am not going to pretend to understand any of the forms, but what I did find interesting was that longevity was rewarded.

My wife bought a book that gives some of the lessons from one of the older masters of a certain form of Tai Chi. She was reading that this particular master featured in the book would claim to have many followers, but only two disciples. In other words, he taught hundreds of people over his many years in the art, but only two truly learned from him.

There were many that followed Jesus, but he called a few.

We can follow Jesus from afar. We can admire what he does. We can watch his actions. It is another thing entirely to drop our other priorities and sit at his feet to learn from him. When we are his disciples, there will be times when he will look to us and say, “Okay, you go do what I just did.”

I notice Jesus said that to his disciples, not his followers.

I’d love your thoughts. Don’t forget, if you comment on my blogposts during Lent you will be in the running for a new Common English Bible translation!

5 thoughts on “Disciples vs. Followers

  1. You’re absolutely right. Discipleship is crucial. Look what happened to people who tried to do as Jesus did without being his disciples- “Jesus I know and Paul I know, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15)

  2. We are struggling with what a “disciple” looks like. Of course we know that all who are Christ’s are in some sense his “disciple” and we want to tag on “completely devoted” or “true” to help gather what it seems to be more what Jesus wants or expects.

    Some “learners” may be growing and becoming transformed, but are like the person who needs someone to chew the food and regurgitate it, who only can handle liquids, when God wants us to be able to chew meat and show a desire to become stronger and more capable – grown-ups, instead of perpetual infants.

  3. I wonder sometimes if the reason that we don’t see the miracles that we want is because we don’t have the compassion of Christ and are not willing to make ourselves vulnerable before God and His will.

  4. An-Le, Master Liang’s daughter, said her father had many students but only two disciples. She went on to say, people may say otherwise, but we (she and her brother) were there and they know.

    I pray those in the faith and those outside…those who are around us every day…will say, “I’ve been around her and I know, she is Jesus’ disciple.”

    I remember that old song that says, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Obviously that refers to true love which includes obedience to our Master.

    Feel free to stop by my blog for more on this topic this week.

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