What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?

Whenever Jesus said, “Follow Me,” He was saying come and be My disciple. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “… ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’” There are three basic principles to being a disciple of Jesus. The first principle is humility (“let him deny himself”). Every new Christian needs to submit himself or herself to the mentorship of a more mature, growing Christian. We are commanded in the Great Commission to “make disciples.” (See Matthew 28:19.) To become a discipler, we first need to be discipled; to teach, we need to be taught. The best scenario for each believer is to be both a disciple and a discipler simultaneously. Another part of denying self is giving preeminence to Jesus alone. In Luke 14:26, Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” Hate in this context deals with preference. We are not to put anything, or anyone in front of Christ. Jesus is to be number one in our lives, and as God, He deserves no less. The second principle has to do with sacrifice (“take up his cross”). In Luke 14:27 Jesus said, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” The cross represented suffering and death—sacrifice. There is a cost to being a disciple. It may not cost you your physical life, but it will require your life completely, spiritually speaking. Paul said in Romans 12:1 to present your body as a “living sacrifice.” As disciples, we must give all of who we are to all of who He is, every single day. The third principle has to do with mimicking Jesus (“follow Me”). This requires the disciple to spend time in the Word of God daily to be familiar with how Jesus acted and reacted to various situations—to learn how He loved and forgave, how He reached out to those who were hurting, how He showed compassion and served those in need. Is being a disciple of Jesus easy? Far from it! But it is the most fulfilling thing we can do while we walk this earth…until He comes.