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Explain the meaning of discipleship for the first disciples Essay

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The word disciple comes from the Latin word “discipulus” meaning pupil. This already gives us some insight into what people believe the meaning of discipleship is. The implication that the disciple is a pupil has differing degrees and many meanings within itself. For example, a pupil can be anyone; they don’t have to be clever or great, but are where they are to learn. A pupil also indicates a certain amount of respect for the person they are learning from (i.e. Teacher, Jesus). The dictionary definition of disciple is ‘a follower of a teacher or leader’. This suggests a devotion to this “teacher” or “leader”.Discipleship for the first century disciples had many different meanings, one of which was devotion. This is shown by Mark in the passage – “Jesus called Levi”. Levi has no hesitation about following Jesus: he just does it. “Follow me”. Levi got up and followed him. He showed unquestioning faith by leaving his work and obeying Jesus. In the very first chapter of Mark when Jesus calls the fishermen they show extreme faith in him by doing the same as Levi. James and John both just get up and leave their father in the fishing boat.The disciples show extreme faith when Jesus sends them out to preach, without even an extra shirt. Jesus tells them to go without any money or a beggar’s bag. They are to leave everything. If discipleship is about faith the Peter shows the ultimate amount in his “Declaration about Jesus”. By calling Jesus the Messiah he risks his life. In the first century it was blasphemy, what Peter had just done, and it was punishable by death. Discipleship in the first century was about unquestioning belief in firstly what Jesus was saying and doing, but also in the Good News. Jesus was looking for people who were willing to leave their whole lives behind and follow him.However, discipleship included many other things in the first century. There is/was a need by the disciples to be able to come up against trouble and hardship without faltering. Jesus tells many parables about this. For example, “The lamp under a bowl”, which is about being open about your beliefs: “Whatever is hidden away will be brought out into the open”, even in the face of persecution. Jesus makes it very plain to the disciples when he “speaks about his suffering and death”. Discipleship here is about putting yourself last and being willing to give your life to spread the gospel. Jesus himself does this and if the disciples are to do their work well they should following Jesus’ footsteps as close as they can. Another example of risking all as a disciple comes at Jesus’ arrest when one of the disciples, (not named in Mark), cuts off one of the High Priest’s slave’s ears, in an attempt to defend Jesus. This disciple could have been arrested and put to death for what he had done. Although he has completely misunderstood a lot of Jesus’ teachings, but his first reaction was to protect Jesus, which showed loyalty. So discipleship is shown as meaning the will to give up all in the name of Jesus and the Gospel.A lot of Jesus’ ideas and therefore the disciples’ ideas were new and quite and quite radical in the first century. For example, in the “Question about the Sabbath” Jesus pushes away the petty, man-made Sabbath laws. This would have been completely unheard of in the first century. “The Sabbath was made for the good of human beings; they were not made for the Sabbath.” However, this seems essential to start a new religion. When Jesus blesses the children, the disciples at first thought that their teacher would have no time to waste on the children, but again Jesus goes against popular customs at that time by taking time out to bless them. He tells his disciples: “I assure you that whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Another example of Jesus upsetting tradition is when He goes to the temple. Jesus saw something he thought was morally wrong and instead of just thinking it, like many may have done before, he challenged it. This is what a lot of discipleship is about. Christianity would not have emerged at all if Jesus and the disciples were not willing to challenge the Jewish laws and traditions at the time. For example, when Jesus and the disciples eat with Levi (a tax collector) and outcasts.Jesus, by eating with these outcasts, is also helping them. The disciples spend a lot of time trying to help the people who need help: “People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick. I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts.” This is an example of discipleship being about helping the needy. Jesus goes around spending a lot of time healing and helping the sick. The disciples too are the power to perform miracles: “They drove out many demons, and rubbed olive oil on many sick people and healed them.”

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