Introduction: Last week we finished our series of lessons on
suffering. We ended with a call to reflect Jesus’ love and sacrifice
for us in our dealings with others. What could lead more naturally
into our new series of lessons on discipleship? What does it mean to
be a disciple of Jesus? What examples do we have? What should motivate
us to be a disciple? Let’s dive into this study on discipleship and
begin to learn what it means to be a disciple of Jesus!

  1. The First Disciples

    1. Read John 1:19-20. Who were the Jewish leaders anticipating?
      (They were looking for the Messiah to come. When John the
      Baptist created a stir in the nation, they sent
      representatives to determine whether he was the Christ, the

      1. What does that suggest about the mood of the Jewish
        nation at that point in time?

    2. Read John 1:23-27. What was John’s relationship to the
      Messiah? (He was not the Messiah, he was preparing the way
      for the Messiah to come.)

    3. Read John 1:29-31. Who did John the Baptist identify as the
      Messiah? (Jesus.)

    4. Read John 1:35-37. With this background, tell me what you
      think motivated these two disciples to change allegiance
      from John to Jesus? (They heard John say Jesus was the “Lamb
      of God” – which meant He was the Messiah. They wanted to
      follow the Messiah, not the one who was preparing the way
      for the Messiah.)

    5. Read John 1:40-41. Who seems to be motivating the switch of
      allegiance? Who is the moving force? (The disciples

    6. Read Matthew 4:18-20. What different light does Matthew put
      on this? (Jesus called Andrew and Peter to be disciples. It
      is clear from John’s background that the two already
      believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Thus, this was not a
      blind agreement to follow just any fellow.)

      1. What task did Jesus offer Andrew and Peter?

        1. What do you think they thought this role would
          mean? If Jesus was the Messiah, what would it
          mean to be “fishers of men?”

    7. Read Matthew 4:21-22. What did discipleship with Jesus
      require? (The text notes that they left their occupation
      without hesitation and they also left their father.)

      1. Read Mark 1:20. Was their father, Zebedee, left
        helpless? (Mark adds the important point that Zebedee
        had help. Apparently, this was a successful fishing

    1. In the previous verses, we saw that Jesus clearly called
      James and John. What do you think motivated them to leave so
      readily? Even leave their father?

    2. Read Matthew 20:20-22. What answer does this suggest?

    3. Read Acts 1:1-6. Note that this text takes place after
      Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. What seems to have
      generally motivated the disciples to follow Jesus? (Self-glory.)

      1. There is no doubt in my mind that the disciples
        followed Jesus in part (you decide how large a part)
        based on their belief that He was the Messiah and they
        would be getting in on the ground floor of the great
        new kingdom that Jesus would establish on earth. Do
        you think God intended to use that motivation to
        attract disciples?

        1. If so, what do you think of such motivation?

        2. How much of your motivation to do good works is
          based on hope of self-glory?

    4. Read Mark 8:31-32. Why do you think Peter rebuked Jesus?
      (Peter did not want Jesus saying that Jesus would be killed.
      Jesus was the Messiah who would set up a grand kingdom on

    5. Read Mark 8:33-35. Jesus now rebukes Peter. What is the
      reason why Jesus rebuked Peter? (Jesus says that self-sacrifice is the key to following Jesus.)

      1. Stop and think carefully about this. Is this a bait
        and switch? Did Jesus appeal in His call for
        discipleship to self-promotion? Does He now deny that

        1. Why does the Bible (Revelation 21) talk about all
          the gold and precious stones in the New

        2. What does the motivation of the disciples teach
          us, if anything?

    6. Read Matthew 16:26-27. Is the explanation found here? If so,
      can you explain it? (It is a fact that Jesus appeals to our
      self-interest. However, the Christian disciple’s approach to
      serving his own self-interest is different than the approach
      of the world. We advance our self-interest by advancing the
      interests of others.)

    7. Read Luke 18:10-13. Is this a variation on what Peter said
      to Jesus? Do you see this kind of thing in your church? In
      the church down the road?

      1. Is there a more subtle way of saying this that goes on
        in your church? That goes on with you?

      1. What did Jesus think about this kind of behavior?
        (Read Luke 18:14.)

        1. Wait a minute! Did Jesus prescribe a way to be

    1. What should you conclude about the proper motivation for
      discipleship? (God appeals to us to follow Him based on a
      benefit to us. He appeals to our desire for self-glory. But,
      when we dig deeper into what it means to truly be a
      disciple, we find that self-sacrifice is the key to our
      ultimate benefit.)

      1. Is this just a formula? Just a matter of getting the
        correct order to things? For example, if I say (like
        the Pharisee) “I’m great and the rest of you are
        slobs,” that would be the wrong way to be exalted.
        But, if I’m smart I say, “You are great, I’m a slob
        and unworthy.” That would be the correct thing to say
        to have Jesus exalt me. Is that the lesson here?
        (These are not mere words, not a mere formula. Jesus
        is looking for an attitude among His disciples of
        self-sacrifice. But it is self-sacrifice with the
        (permissible) goal of ultimate glory.)

  1. The Nature of Discipleship

    1. Read Luke 14:25-26. Jesus is teaching what it means to be a
      disciple. How does this sound to you?

      1. Does Jesus literally mean what He is saying? If so,
        does this mean that denying ourselves is a call to
        denying our immediate family?

      2. If it is, why did Mark ( Mark 1:20) seem to explain
        that John and James did not hate their father?

    2. Read Matthew 15:4. How do you explain this text? Was Jesus
      just having a “bad parent day” when He said what He did
      about hating parents in Luke 14:25-26?

    3. Read Matthew 10:37. What does this add to our search for
      what Jesus meant about hating our family? (When Jesus tells
      us to “hate” our family, I think He means it in the sense of
      “loving them less.” If not, then Matthew 15:4 and Matthew
      10:37 are inconsistent.)

    4. Let’s look at the context of Luke 14:25-26 to get the bigger
      picture. Read Luke 14:16-20. How does this story introduce
      Jesus’ discussion about “hating” our family? How would you
      now understand Jesus’ statement about “hating” our family?

    5. This story about the wedding feast sounds very much like the
      story Jesus told in Matthew 22:1-14. Let’s read in detail
      the last part of that story. Read Matthew 22:10-14. I’m sure
      that almost everyone who reads this recognizes that the
      “point” of this story is that we enter heaven by accepting
      the invitation and wearing the robe of God’s righteousness,
      not because we are good people. What should we conclude from
      considering all of this? Is there a difference between being
      a disciple and being saved?

      1. Are we saved merely by acknowledging Jesus as Lord and
        accepting His life and sacrifice on our behalf, i.e.,
        accepting His robe of righteousness? But, being a
        disciple is this hard business in which you have to
        “hate” those who you love the most in this world?

      2. The Bible Exposition Commentary says that a “disciple”
        is “a learner, one who attaches himself or herself to
        a teacher in order to learn a trade or subject.
        Perhaps our nearest modern equivalent is
        ‘apprentice.'” Is it fair to say that when we are
        saved we are called to be a disciple, one who learns
        the way of self-sacrifice?

        1. Or, when Jesus talks about “hating” our family
          and denying yourself, is He merely talking about
          the initial decision for salvation? Is He saying
          “Don’t let your family or your selfish plans
          stand between you and accepting the invitation to
          the wedding and choosing to put on the robe of

    6. Friend, will you decide to study with us the next several
      weeks to find out what, exactly, it means to be a disciple
      of Jesus Christ?

  2. Next week: Discipleship Then and Now.