This is part 1 in a series of articles based off of Matthew 5-7, entitled: Following Christ

Matthew 5:1-2 ESV
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them saying…

This is the first time we see Jesus specifically bringing his disciples together and teaching them. It becomes the rallying cry for living out the Christ-following life. It becomes the standard to which his disciples must adhere to.
What Does It Mean?

As we look at the Beatitudes the first thing we notice is this gathering together of his disciples. He is not talking to the crowds who had experienced the miracles a few verses earlier. Here he speaks directly to his disciples. The Beatitudes would never work if it was rooted in anything but discipleship. Discipleship meant that they would be in close relationship with the Master. They would be continually learning from him as they walked with him for the next three years. The Christ-following life is one of discipleship.

In our day and age with a fast-paced culture of busy…busy…busy, virtualised community with cellphones and texting, and an internet generation of bloggers and myspaces, we don’t completely understand what it means to become disciples. Disciples in that day age meant ‘pupil of a teacher’. In the Jewish culture at the time, the teachers were the rabbis, and every rabbi had a following. Jesus had disciples and as a rabbi began the process of disseminating his ‘yoke’, or teaching, upon his disciples. The Beatitudes begin that journey for the disciples of Christ.

As Christians, we are Christ-followers. We follow Christ wherever he may lead. It’s hard to imagine that in our spiritual context. After Jesus ascended into Heaven, he sent the Comforter the Holy Spirit who lives within the hearts of men; but if we could return back to the imagery of a rabbi and his following of disciples, we would begin to understand what it truly means to follow Christ.
Disicipleship, The Precondition

Many times we want Christ to be our Savior but not our Lord. We want citizenship in heaven, without becoming Christ’s love-slave on earth. We desire freedom in Christ, without accepting the cross-lifestyle. If we truly desire to become followers of Christ, we must first become disciples. Disciples live by a discipline. This first sermon of Christ resonates as the first disciplines placed upon Christ’s disciples. The disciples listened intently to their Master’s disciplines. They did not understand who Christ was completely, but as their rabbi, they were to take now his teachings and live by them.

To live fully in Christ, we must first submit ourselves to a life of discipline. A life of discipline is illustrated in Paul’s words to the church in Rome:

Romans 6:17-18 ESV
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

If we desire to truly grow in Christ, the first thing we must completely desire is to become slaves to righteousness. We will grow as disciples as we grow in the disciplines that the Lord asks us to live by. Discipleship will cost you everything. It will force you to become transparent, humble, and more often that not…desperate. Discipleship will stretch you. But this process of sanctification is what we walk through as we follow Christ.

Embracing Discipleship

What does all this mean practically? How do we live by disciplines? It begins with us looking to Jesus, to his written Word, and to fellowship of the saints (the body of Christ). We must submit to the authority of Christ in our lives. We must follow him. We must continue to let his Word mold and shape our heart and soul. When John speaks of the Word becoming flesh and dwelling amongst them, we must realize that the Bible is basically Christ speaking to us through the accounts of people through the ages of time. We must submit to the local church authority. We are called to follow Christ in community. Koinonia, a common fellowship. To grow we must submit to that local church authority.

The aim is following Christ, and our first job is to accept the call of discipleship.

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