What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? That’s a big question. Before we answer that, let’s step back a minute and make sure we’re clear on what it means to be a disciple in general. A disciple is a learner, a follower, sort of like an apprentice. In the first century, you could be a disciple of a blacksmith, a tanner, a farmer, a rabbi, or any tradesman. A disciple spent time with his teacher, learning from him by his words and his actions, trying to become like the teacher in every way.
A person who puts their trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior in a very real sense has in that moment become a disciple of Jesus. The process of disciple making will continue the rest of their life! In the Great Commission we read:
18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
As disciples of Jesus, we are to observe and obey everything he commanded us. EVERYTHING. That’s a lifetime of learning, for sure.
So if you had eight lessons to teach someone to get them started as a follower of Jesus, what would those lessons cover?
That’s what we’d like to explore in this series of posts. With each lesson we will have a command of Christ and a story from the New Testament. At the end of each story we will ask three questions. These questions will help you to dig into the story and learn much about following Jesus.
The first lesson is called Repent and Believe. The command of Christ is found in Mark’s Gospel. Jesus said,
15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
The story is found in Luke’s Gospel and it’s about a guy who overcame some obstacles to see Jesus when he came into his town. Notice in the story the phrase the place. I don’t know about you, but I can remember the place where I first met Jesus as my Lord and Savior, the place I was when I repented and believed.
1 He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 There was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, but he was not able because of the crowd, since he was a short man. 4 So running ahead, he climbed up a sycamore tree to see Jesus, since he was about to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down because today it is necessary for me to stay at your house.” 6 So he quickly came down and welcomed him joyfully. 7 All who saw it began to complain, “He’s gone to stay with a sinful man.” 8 But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, I’ll give half of my possessions to the poor, Lord. And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I’ll pay back four times as much.” 9 “Today salvation has come to this house,”Jesus told him,“because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”
Question #1: What does this story teach us about God?
Remember that Jesus is God in the flesh, so in Jesus you see God in action. He goes to where lost people are, he calls them by name, he overcomes obstacles to get the good news to them, he believes in them when no one else does. He saves and changes lives!
Question #2: What does this story teach us about people?
The crowds can sometimes get in the way of people getting to Jesus. It doesn’t matter how you feel about yourself or how many sins you have done, what matters most is what Jesus can do in your life. If Jesus can save Zacchaeus, he can save anyone! When Jesus calls your name, repent and believe.
Question #3: How can we apply this story to our lives?
Like Jesus, be willing to go to people who need God’s love. Spend time with people who need Jesus. Invite people to repent and believe in Jesus. In your own life, as a follower of Jesus, when sin tries to creep into your life, repent of that sin and believe in God’s forgiveness in Christ that covers all your sin. His grace is sufficient for you.