Becoming His Disciple

The disciples witnessed Jesus heal the sick, exorcise demons, forgive sins, and even calm a violent storm, and all done with great authority. Yet rather than faith in the Son of God, his miracles produced confusion and fear among many, including his disciples, and raised the question, “WHO IS THIS MAN?” Only at his execution did someone begin to understand who this Nazarene was, namely, a Roman officer who observed his death.

Rugged Trail - Photo by Anthony Gomez on Unsplash
[Photo by Anthony Gomez on Unsplash]

This ironic storyline is threaded through the
Gospel of Mark. It leads to a stunning conclusion: Until his death on the Cross, no one could recognize who Jesus of Nazareth was, and no one acknowledged him as the “Son of God” except the demons exorcised by him and the heavenly voice at his baptism along the Jordan River.

That voice called him the “beloved Son.” When he exorcised demons, they audibly identified him as the “Son of God,” though he silenced them since “they knew who he was.”

In contrast to demons, men and women of the Jewish nation proved incapable of understanding his identity or mission, including members of his immediate family and even his inner circle of disciples. For example, after casting out a demon, amazed, the crowd “began to discuss among themselves saying: What is this?” - (Mark 1:10-11, 1:24-34, 5:7).

Following his calming of a storm on the Sea of Galilee, his disciples asked one another, “Who is this, that even the wind and sea obey him?” They were even more fearful after Jesus commanded the storm to desist than they were during the tempest. Even a display of power of that magnitude proved insufficient to open their eyes - (Mark 1:27, 4:41).

Later, on the verge of grasping his identity, Peter declared - “You are the Messiah.” But when Jesus explained what his calling entailed - suffering, rejection, death - Peter “began to rebuke him,” whatever momentary glimmer of insight he had dissipated.

The idea of Israel’s Messiah being crucified by the nation’s greatest enemy was inconceivable to a devout and patriotic Jew. But Jesus reacted by sharply reprimanding Peter: “Withdraw behind me, Satan, because you are not regarding the things of God but the things of men!” - (Mark 8:29-32).


Only while he was dying did one man recognize him. Quite ironically, none other than a Roman, and possibly the very officer in charge of his execution. When Jesus breathed his last, this pagan official declared - “Truly this man was the Son of God.”

The centurion perceived what none of the religious leaders of Israel or his own disciples could comprehend. Only when he was dying on the cross did someone begin to understand who Jesus was, the “Son of God.”

There is no Christianity without Christ, and there is no saving faith or knowledge apart from “Christ Crucified.”

Years later, Paul presented the submission of Jesus to the shameful death of execution on a Roman cross as the paradigm for Christian conduct, especially in the congregation. The Son of God “poured himself out, taking the form of a slave,” and he humbled himself by becoming “obedient as far as death, even death upon a cross.”

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, the self-sacrifice of Jesus becomes the paradigm for right conduct and thinking; namely, to count one’s fellow believer as better than oneself “in lowliness of mind - (Philippians 2:6-11).

To follow Jesus means to reconfigure your life in conformity to his teachings and example. This pattern of discipleship goes back to Christ himself when he taught his disciples that the disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above his master… He that does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” - (Matthew 10:24-38).

One day, his disciples were disputing which of them would be the “greatest” in the Kingdom. But Jesus admonished them - Not so is it to be among you, but whoever shall desire to become great among you shall be your minister, and whosoever shall desire to be first among you shall be your slave: just as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give his life a ransom instead of many.”

Greatness” in his Kingdom is achieved only through self-sacrificial service to others. To follow "the Lamb wherever he goes" means living a life of humble service, submission to the will of the Father, and a willingness to suffer for Jesus and his people.

The Son of God cannot be understood by his miraculous deeds or supernatural displays of power. Only in his sacrificial death for others do we begin to comprehend just who he is, the nature of his mission, and what it means to be his disciple and “follow him wherever he goes.”


His Name is Jesus!

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