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The Christian life is a life of discipleship. The contemporary call to discipleship is often spelled out in terms of rigor and self denial, and well it should be. After all, it was the Master himself who said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). The call to discipleship, then, involves a call to take up an instrument of death, the cross, and follow the master to Jerusalem, as it were.
But we must also note that the Master spoke about discipleship in other terms as well. On many occasions he used rural, agrarian imagery to envision for people a life of discipleship. Indeed, in Matthew 11:25-30 he spoke about discipleship as an invitation to rest, to take upon ourselves his yoke and learn from him.
The word “disciple” is the English term typically used to translate mathetes, which itself is an important Greek NT word often referring to a “student,” “pupil,” “apprentice,” or “adherent.” Generally speaking, when Jesus uses mathetes in the Gospels, it has connotations both of “learning” and “following.” Indeed, Jesus suggests that a committed disciple is one who reflects on His teachings and seeks to consistently implement them in his or her life (John 8:31-32). A disciple is also someone who, in light of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), desires to help others come to know the Master and live out his teachings as well.
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And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
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