What does it really mean to follow Jesus? Somehow in the latter part of the twentieth century people lost sight of what it means to follow Jesus, and it has carried over into the twenty-first century

Discipleship is linked to external observance of religion rather than a relational experience with Jesus Christ. During the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, many people sought to follow the Lord. “Even as he spoke, many believed in him” (John 8:30). 

Many motives moved people to associate with Jesus Christ. Some were infatuated with the Lord’s miracles and teachings. Others were just curious. Jesus did not want people to follow Him outside the motive of a genuine commitment. To distinguish the authentic followers, Jesus gave the distinctiveness of a true disciple. 


A. Jesus realized that some people made an impulsive decision to follow Him. At times in Jesus’ ministry, large crowds followed the Master. 

The Lord knew some followed just to hear His teachings, to observe His miracles, or to be a part of the crowd. He knew that many would decide not to follow Him. “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (6:66).

B. Jesus pointed out that perseverance would be the sign of a true disciple. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples” (8:31). 

Discipleship is not the excitement of one moment. It is a patient continuance in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. 

Illustration: Ignace Jan Paderewski started playing the piano at the age of three. He developed slowly, but he was determined to become a master of the piano. He practiced six hours almost every day of his life. By discipline and determination he finally reached his goal.

C. To a crowd of potential followers Jesus gave a sure sign of a disciple. 

A disciple is one who follows Jesus continuously. The genuine evidence is in the sustained effort.


A. Jesus taught of a freedom which leads to bondage. “Jesus replied, ‘Verytruly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin’” (v. 34).

"Christ declared that their love one for another was a sure badge of their discipleship." Ellen G. White, The Home Missionary, August 1, 1896 par. 2

To a group of potential disciples Jesus taught how sin leads to bondage. Going through life trusting only on ourselves leads to a detrimental bondage. No one who follows Jesus can be a master to himself. 

B. Jesus spoke of a bondage which leads to freedom. 

A true disciple is one who has renounced his way to the way of Christ. This kind of bondage to the Lord leads to authentic freedom. Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (v. 36). 

The true disciple of Jesus lives to please only one Person, and this Person is Jesus Christ.

C. A distinctiveness of Christian discipleship is freedom. A disciple of Jesus is not a slave to sin, but a slave to the Master.


A. The Jews made claims to be Abraham’s children. By physical lineage this was true. However, Jesus taught that a true disciple was not one of mere physical descent. 

The Jews claimed to be disciples on pedigree and name. Many of these Jews lived lives that were contrary to Abraham’s life. They sought to kill Jesus (v. 40).

They slandered the name of Jesus (v. 41). Jesus said they were not God’s children, for they did not reflect God’s character. “You belong to your father, the devil” (v. 44a). 

To behave in the manner of the Jews was uncharacteristic of God’s children. Ellen G. White says: “There is in human nature a tendency to run to extremes and from one extreme to another entirely opposite. Many are fanatics. They are consumed by a fiery zeal which is mistaken for religion, but character is the true test of discipleship. Have they the meekness of Christ? Have they His humility and sweet benevolence? Is the soul-temple emptied of pride, arrogance, selfishness, and censoriousness? If not, they know not what manner of spirit they are of. They do not realize that true Christianity consists in bearing much fruit to the glory of God” (5T, 305). 

B. God’s children behave like His children. “If God were your Father, you would love me” (v. 42a).

Also, Jesus said, “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says” (v. 47a). Nature will be true to itself. If one is born of God, then he or she will live in accordance with Christ’s character. Ellen G. White also affirms, “This is not merely a Christian duty, but the certain evidence of discipleship—the Christian duty. It is the one thing, the great test of character, the proof of discipleship, and our heirship to heaven” (Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 358). 


A. Many claimed to be disciples of Jesus, but they did not honor Him. Jesus said, “I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me” (v. 49, KJV). The people dishonored Christ by saying that He was possessed with a demon. 

B. True disciples honor Christ. Disciples honor the Lord by adoring and obeying Him.


Are you a true disciple of Jesus Christ? The proof is not in mere externals. It is in continuance, freedom, the way one lives, and honoring Christ. 

General Conference Ministerial Association