Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Webster’s Dictionary defines disciple as a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher. Jesus attracted large crowds wherever He went, but only twelve were chosen to follow Him and be His students. They lived with him 24/7, soaked in His teachings, and did whatever He asked of them. They considered Him their Rabbi, or teacher, and called him Lord. He called them His disciples and invested Himself in their training.
Many in the crowds also called Jesus Rabbi and Lord and for a time followed him from town to town, marveling at the miracles He performed and the simplicity of his teachings, basking in the good news of the Kingdom of God, and enjoying the energy of the gatherings. But always, at the end of the day, they went their separate ways, distracted by their own agenda. While they may have called themselves His disciples, Jesus did not. It was only those who chose to align their lives and their will with His who were His true disciples.
Matthew must have pondered the meaning of true discipleship in the broader context of the Church and the Kingdom of God as a whole. As he chronicled his time with Jesus, he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” In other words, merely paying lip service to Jesus and calling ourselves Christ followers doesn’t necessarily mean we are actually following His teachings.
God doesn’t just want us to be His children in name only. He wants us to make Him a part of our lives every day, soak in His teachings, and do whatever He asks of us. He wants that close relationship that only comes from us engaging with Him daily and aligning our hearts with His.
Would you consider yourself a “true” disciple of Jesus?
Father, thank you for providing us scripture and clarity on what it means to be disciple. Teach me today, help me grow, and align my heart with yours.