After you have denied yourself and carried your cross, you need to learn how to walk effectively in the newness of life that you have received through Christ. That is the essence of you to follow Jesus as a disciple.
The word used here as follow in the original text of the greek word is “akoloutheo” which literally means to “be in the same road or path with”. It means to “accompany as a disciple”. So when Jesus said “follow me” He was saying become my disciple. To be a disciple also means to be a student who learns from his teacher. Someone who is carefully taking into consideration all the words of his teacher.
The word disciple is also coined from the word ‘discipline’ which is defined by the Merriam Webster’s dictionary in a number of ways but for the purpose of this article, we will be looking at just two of those definitions:
(i) A rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity: So the Christian life is one patterned after a set of rules (the word of God) which determines what you can and cannot do. The Apostle Paul put it this way at stated in 1 Corinthians 9:24 – 29,
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway”.
Here he likens the Christian life of discipline to the life of a track athlete.
Saying that for a person to attain expertise in running (i.e mastery) he must learn to be ‘temperate in all things’. That means discipline because the word temperate is the greek word ‘egkrateuomai’ which means to exercise self restraint (in diet and chastity).
The same is true for a Christian and his disciplines include prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17), fasting (Matthew 17:21), worship (John 4:24), studying and meditating on the word of God (Joshua 1:8) etc.
(ii) A field of study: A more modern way of putting the word disciple would be with the words apprentice or protege. Both mean basically the same thing. A younger or less experienced person who learns a specific field of practice from an older or more experienced person.
In this case Jesus is the experienced one and we are to learn from Him to live a godly life as a model for us (John 5:19).
Paul the apostle made an interesting statement in 1 Corinthians 11:1 he said,
“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ”.
Paul who was an apostolic leader in the church had some followers who had studied his life and based on the fruit he had decided to follow him. But Paul used this statement to emphasize that even the leaders that God set in the church are supposed to point us towards Christ to follow him.
So Ephesians 4:11-13 says,
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”.
The reason we follow after Christ example is because we were saved to become like Christ in every aspect of our lives and we do this by following him daily.
Scripture tells us that the disciples of Jesus were first called “Christians” (meaning Christ like) in Antioch (Acts 11:26) not by the apostles but by the world because the world saw these men who were like Christ in every respect. The day you stop becoming like Christ as a Christian is the day that you cease to exist for the purpose of which God saved you in the first place. This is why we must follow Christ daily.
Matthew 16:24-26 says,
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
There are expectations from God and from the world as a child of God. Follow Jesus as a disciple.