Teachings of Jesus on Discipleship
Lesson #1: Valuing the Spiritual over the Physical

by: Bill Bratt

Email: info@icogsfg.org


A disciple is a person who subscribes to the teachings of a master and assists in spreading his teachings. A Christian then is a person who is a disciple of Jesus Christ, who is the Master, and he subscribes to His teachings and has a strong desire in spreading His teachings and His message.

What was the message that Jesus delivered to His disciples? It is called the gospel.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

The book of Mark begins with the statement about the gospel: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mark 1:1). "Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, {15} and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel"" (Mark 1:14-15).

The word "gospel" means "good news", "glad tidings" or "good message". So Jesus came preaching the "good news" of the "kingdom of God".

Notice in verse 15 that we must "repent and believe in the gospel".

Thy Kingdom Come

One of Jesusí disciples said to Him: "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples"" (Luke 11:1). Jesus then proceeded to teach His disciples by giving them a model prayer (commonly called the Lordís prayer - Matthew 6:9-13). This outline prayer has seven requests to it and the second request is: "Thy Kingdom Come." When we are praying for Godís kingdom to come, we are asking God to set up His literal Government on the earth through the return of His Son Jesus Christ as "King of kings and Lord of lords!" (Revelation 19:16).

Godís government on earth will last 1,000 years. It will be a millennium of world peace, prosperity, good health, a land of "milk and honey." There is a new world coming and it will be a "utopia". We are told to pray for Godís kingdom, His realm, His government to come.

Jesus taught us: ""Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Mat 6:33). (Request our free feature articles: "Lord, Teach Us to Pray". This article discusses the seven requests of the model prayer. Also request "Thy Kingdom Come". This article will go into detail about the return of Christ and the millennium).

Come Follow Me

The apostle John records the account of Jesus calling His first disciples: "John stood with two of his disciples. {36} And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God!" {37} The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. {38} Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, "What do you seek?" They said to Him, "Rabbi" (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), "where are You staying?" {39} He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour). {40} One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. {41} He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated, the Christ). {42} And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, "You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas" (which is translated, A Stone). {43} The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, "Follow Me." {44} Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. {45} Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote; Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph"" (John 1:35-45).

As Jesus called His disciples they began to follow Him. From verse 41 we see that they knew He was the Messiah, the Christ, the anointed one.

Matthew records in his gospel that Jesus gave His disciples power: "And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease" (Mat 10:1).

The twelve disciples that Jesus had chosen left everything physical and followed Jesus seeking the spiritual things that He had to offer.

We must Value Eternal Life more than our Temporal Physical Life

Jesus taught His disciples that if they followed Him He would give them eternal life: "Jesus answered them, "I told you (the Jews), and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me. {26} "But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. {27} "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. {28} "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:25-28) . The disciples of Jesus will follow Him like sheep because they know His voice. Jesus is the good and great Shepherd (John 10:11, Hebrews 13:20).

Peter knew that only Jesus had the words of eternal life: "But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68) .

All true Christians must realize, as Peter did, that only Jesus has the words of eternal life. It is only through Him that we can be saved and inherit eternal life: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. {17} "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:16-17).

Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me

When we follow Jesus we might find that people will become at odds with us. Jesus said: ""Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. {35} "For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; {36} "and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' {37} "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. {38} "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. {39} "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matthew 10:34-39).

A Christian must take up his cross and follow Jesus. In following Jesus we must keep Godís Ten Commandments to abide in His love and the Fatherís love: ""If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. {11} "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:10-11).

Jesus gives us two very important instructions. He tells His disciples to love God and their neighbors: "'And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. {31} "And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these"" (Mark 12:30-31).

Our love for our neighbors must be like the love that Jesus had for us. He loved us so much that He was willing to die for us. We also must have this kind of love: "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. {13} "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John 15:12-13).

We must put the Spiritual above the Physical

The examples of Mary and Martha shows us a very valuable lesson in putting the worship of God and Jesus above physical matters such as service: "Now it happened as they went that He (Jesus) entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. {39} And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. {40} But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me." {41} And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. {42} "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her"" (Luke 10:38-42). We must put God and Jesus first in our lives.

The Cost of Discipleship

Complete commitment is required of Jesusí disciples. Luke recorded in his gospel: "Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, "Lord, I will follow You wherever You go." {58} And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." {59} Then He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." {60} Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God." {61} And another also said, "Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house." {62} But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God"" (Luke 9:57-62).

Jesus was saying that if you are going to follow Him it requires personal sacrifice, allegiance and loyalty to Him. These three individuals hesitated following Jesus. We must put our hand to the plow and watch to see where the plow is going. We must not be distracted or else we will be going in a wrong direction from what Jesus desires.

A disciple must not just talk the talk - he must walk the walk and plow his way straight toward the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).

Jesus gave us another warning regarding the cost of discipleship and that is if they persecuted Him they will also persecute His disciples. Jesus said: ""Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also" (John 15:20).

Disciples Must Obey Their Masters

Jesus is the author and captain of our salvation: "And having been perfected, He (Jesus) became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Heb 5:9).

The apostle Paul told us that we must obey Jesus and work out our own salvation with fear and trembling: "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12).

How do we obey Jesus? By keeping Godís commandments: Jesus said: "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). We are to follow in the steps of Jesus: "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps" (1 Pet 2:21).

In Conclusion: Jesus is still calling His disciples and wants to teach them about His love, mercy, grace and His gospel message of the kingdom of God. He wants to reveal His Father to us. Jesus wants His disciples to value the spiritual things over the physical things. We as His disciples must follow and obey the teachings of our Lord, Master and Teacher Jesus Christ.