Recently the topic of "disciples" has come up in conversation, and so I decided to pursue it further and take a deeper look at this subject, as in the past I have had some problems identifying myself as a "disciple" of Yeshua. In the church system I used to hear the scripture "go into all the world and make disciples…", but it appeared that these disciples were to be after the denomination that they were trained in. Since that is obviously not what Yeshua meant, I had to ask, "What is it to be a disciple of Yeshua?"
When I was involved in the occult, I heard the term "disciples" in connection with the "great Christ light", since Jesus was seen as one of the great masters and teachers of the "way". He was likened to Buddha, Krishna, Moses and Mohamed, who were all "way showers" to "God" and to goodness, righteousness and holiness. However, once my eyes were opened to the gospel of the Kingdom, Yeshua the Messiah and the New Covenant writings of the apostles, I realized that Yeshua was not a "way shower", but The Way, The Truth and The Light. So how is it that we can become disciples, since we cannot be disciples in the way that other adherents attend to their masters? In fact Yeshua says that it is virtually impossible. Here is how Yeshua describes His followers: "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple". "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsakes not all that he has, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14, 26; 33). Not only is this a very radical approach, it actually sounds somewhat contradictory to what Yeshua says elsewhere about loving others, and especially the commandment to honor parents.
Yeshua knew who He was and where He had come from, and that no one could follow Him nor become like Him. If this were a possibility then Yeshua would not have needed to come as Savior, Deliverer and Redeemer. And what's more, what Satan had said to Eve in the garden, "you can become like Elohim", would have been true. No one can become like Elohim by being a follower of the Messiah. However, the Father has provided another way, and that is to die and be born again. In doing so we receive His likeness through being born of His Spirit, by faith in what He has given to us through His Son. We cry out "Abba", and that one word tells us who and whose we are, a fact which also points to the nature that we are born of. Thus, even though we still struggle with the power of sin that is at work in us, the fundamental reality is that we are a new creation life inhabiting earth suits.
So how can we become what we already are constituted as? It must be a case of simply maturing. How is it that we mature? Actually it is very similar to what takes place in our natural life. We eat, drink and are also nurtured by others. The apostle writes: "I planted, Apollos watered, but Elohim was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but Elohim who causes the growth" (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).
If we try to follow Yeshua by our natural feelings and inclinations, we will find ourselves in the same boat as His disciples. Peter, for example, was very bold and declared that he was willing to lay down his life for his Master. However, Yeshua knew Peter's strengths and weaknesses as a human being and thus answered him: "Before the cock crows you will deny me three times". The twelve men who followed their Master were kept as His disciples by the power of His Heavenly Father, and not by any will power or natural inclination. Didn't Yeshua have hundreds of disciples at one point? But it took only a word to expose their true motives, after which they all left Him. "Unless you eat my body and drink my blood…" was the most repulsive idea imaginable to His fellow Jews.
One of the basic tenants of the gospel is: "I have died and it is no longer I that live, but Messiah who lives in me". The nature of Yeshua's life is the same as His Father's. And, believe it or not, so is ours in spite of the residue of sin that still works in our members. But as we mature in our true nature and life in the Spirit of Holiness, we become examples to others just as the apostle wrote: "For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you" (2 Thessalonians 3:7). "And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Yeshua the Messiah might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:16). Here we have the secret of making a disciple. We become examples or witnesses to others of the indwelling life of the Messiah, making us one another's disciples.