Jesus’ School of Discipleship 

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Luke 9:23-24

Becoming a disciple of Jesus is like going to school. In Jesus’ school, we have God the Father as the principal, Jesus as our teacher, and the Holy Spirit as our guide. We have a lifetime in school to learn to act and think like Jesus.

The process of discipleship starts with conversion. It is like enrolling in Jesus’ discipleship school. It is very important that we make an adult decision to follow Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. We need to realise that we need Jesus in our lives and that without Him, we are nothing. Unfortunately, this step is missed by some people who think Christianity is there only to improve our lives or society for the better. Without the initial conversion, the roots of Christianity are shallow and can be easily shaken by different ideologies or trials one encounters from time to time.

Jesus’ discipleship school is a school of love. It means we learn how to put others first instead of us first. We learn to be kind and patient, to think of others before our good, to forgive and be forgiven, to have compassion, and to be good to all. Jesus lived His life as a perfect example of love, and we are to imitate Him in all the ways He loved. If we do not know how to respond to situations, we should ask ourselves, what is the loving thing to do? What would Jesus do in this exact situation?

Who and how did Jesus loved? First, Jesus loves God the Father. He put the Father’s will first rather than His own. He put up with hard-headed and sinful people during His lifetime and showed how to put God first in everything. He corrected and admonished hypocrites who put their honour, prestige and wealth first rather than truly seeking God from the heart. Jesus had the gift of knowing what was in people’s hearts, and He encouraged those who were sincere in seeking God in their lives.

Second, Jesus taught His disciples how to love and serve one another. He commanded His disciples to love one another as much as He loved them. He taught them that to be great, they have to be the servant of all – a principle that is totally against their human nature. He forgave those who were in the wrong. He showed love and kindness to those He met by healing them and providing them with their physical needs through miracles.

There is another side of the coin in Jesus’ school of love. One side is learning to love God and others, but the flip side of the deal is to unlearn the worldly or ‘natural’ ways of living our lives. We live in a me-first world. We have accumulated in our lifetime habits of selfishness, conceit, greed, anger, pleasure-seeking, not forgiving, and so on. We have the rest of our lifetime to unlearn all those wrong habits and thinking. It will not be easy or convenient, but it will be worth it in the end.

God’s work inside us starts with conversion, and He needs to continue His work by changing our minds. 

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

Romans 12:2 

God calls us to be transformers of the world, not mere conformers, as we once were. We need to be exposed to God’s word so that slowly but surely, our minds, attitudes, and behaviour will slowly conform to God’s will in our lives. We must regularly imbibe spiritual milk from God’s word until we grow spiritually healthy and mature.

Jesus’ school of discipleship is not just between individuals and Him. The school is like one big school, with many learners. The school that God placed us in is first our families, then the Christian community or church. Some students have been there long, and some are relatively new to the school. It is through those schoolmates we learn to practice the principles of love, kindness, putting others first, and forgiveness. In the school of discipleship and love, there will be good days, and there will be not-so-good days. On the good days, we do well in exhibiting Jesus’ likeness. In the bad days, we learn to be like Jesus through our mistakes and need to unlearn what we just did. God will provide other opportunities in the future for us to recover from our mistakes.

As long as we are on this side of eternity, we need to endure until God calls us to graduate into the “real world” for us – heaven. This earthly life is a school of love because that is what we will be in heaven – mini-Jesus in thinking and character, whom God the Father will entrust everything – all of His creation and beyond – to Christ and His followers. 

Top image credit: Jesus Christ exhorting his twelve disciples, watercolor illustration by James Tissot, 1886-1894, Brooklyn Museum. Image in the public domain. See The Life of Christ Illustrated by James Tissot: An Artist with a Burning Compulsion to Paint the Narrative Story of the Bible.

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