The word ‘disciple’ as used in the Bible, means ‘follower’ or ‘one who is taught’, that is ‘a student’. But it’s more than a student, because these people devoted all their time and energy to the process. They lived with their teacher. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul says to Timothy, “You have learned many things from me, on many occasions, so teach those things to trustworthy people who will be able to teach others also.” These relationships are the process for making disciples. In Matt. 28:18-20, Jesus says, “Go make disciples . . .”; and He had already started the process, with His first twelve disciples, (later known as apostles). He taught them, and other followers, for three years. Later He commissioned Paul as one of His disciples, in a dark room in Damascus.
Paul knew Jesus, and Jesus (by His Spirit) taught Paul to be a disciple, to make disciples, and to teach others to make disciples. Timothy knew Paul, and Paul taught Timothy . . . Trustworthy people knew Timothy, and Timothy taught them . . . Others knew those trustworthy people, and those trustworthy people taught them . . . and those ‘Others’ taught still others, right down to today.
I’m convinced that every person who has made a commitment to Jesus should be moving up this continuum of Know a disciple, Be a disciple, Make disciples and Teach others to make disciples for Jesus, from the time we first come to know Jesus until we meet Him in heaven. We are able to do this because Jesus has empowered us BY HIS SPIRIT within us. This is the primary means God uses to change the world, by changing people from the inside out, and sending them into the world as his ambassadors.
So where are you in this process of making disciples? You may be like me. I’m old, and I just recently figured out I was supposed to be making disciples. Or you may be ‘just a kid’ who is truly excited about the fact that the Spirit is moving in your life. But no matter when you come to the revelation that you belong to Jesus and He belongs to you, right then you begin to see and develop discipleship relationships with the people God puts in your life, whether you’re intending to or not. This is truly a Spiritual adventure!
You’ve heard the term ‘mentor’; in this case a disciple is someone who continues to learn from Jesus while she is spending time teaching others; someone who not only teaches you facts, but also shows you (demonstrates) how to live. That’s who a disciple is and that’s what a disciple does. Only difference is they are doing it, not just for the student (or for the teacher), but even more, they’re doing it for Jesus, by His Power that works within them.