Defining “Disciple”

I am a follower.

Commercials and culture say I’m unique. A rugged individual making my way in the world. Think different. Be yourself. Just do it.

None of us is all that original, and the most original among us recognize it. Ralph Waldo Emerson joked, “All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.” T.S. Eliot quipped, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” I’ve never founded an intellectual movement (like Emerson) or written epic poetry (like Eliot). If they weren’t original, neither am I. If they were followers, I probably am too.

I've got nothing on those sideburns.

I’ve got nothing on those sideburns.

All of us are followers. We follow fashions and trends, parents and heroes. We follow peers and spouses, film stars and the person in front of us at the DMV. Being a follower is a natural part of being human.

At the beginning of the book of John, two men hear that Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” and they follow him (John 1:37). They ask Jesus where he is staying (not like creepy stalkers, more like eager students), and he invites them to “Come and see” (1:39). After spending time with him, one of the two men, Andrew, goes to tell his brother Simon “We have found the Messiah!” and he “brought him to Jesus” (John 1:41-42). Simon arrives, meets Jesus, and Jesus changes his name to “Peter” on the spot.

From this brief story emerges the definition of a disciple. A disciple is someone who follows Jesus and brings others to Jesus. By definition, disciples make disciples. And the closer we follow Jesus (Andrew and his friend crashed at Jesus’s place!), the more likely we’ll be to bring others to him.

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