Luke 9: Discipleship in a Nutshell

December Devotional Readings

The Book of Luke has 24 chapters. It starts with the story of the birth of Christ and ends with His death and resurrection. This makes it the perfect Bible reading plan for the month of December. Read a chapter a day and you’ll have an overview of the story of Jesus by Christmas!

Jesus taught His disciples what it means to follow Him. It's uncomfortable. Kinda like putting your hands into a bowl of raw beef to make meatballs.

Open your Bible and read Luke 9.

As a child, one of our daughters was keen to learn everything there was to know about homemaking. She liked to think of herself as my apprentice and was particularly interested in learning to bake and cook. 

One day, I asked if she’d like to help me make meatballs – one of her favorite dishes. Eagerly, she put on her apron and stood beside me at the kitchen counter. I opened a package of raw ground beef and dumped it into a mixing bowl. But when my willing disciple watched me place my hands in the mixture to start forming the balls, her willingness quickly disappeared. 

Apparently the idea of handling raw meat was unbearable for her. She abandoned her post, gave up on the cooking lesson, and chose instead to enjoy meatballs only after they’d been prepared by someone else!

Defective Discipleship

That wasn’t my daughter’s shiniest moment as a domestic disciple. The disciples of Jesus, in the last half of today’s reading in Luke 9, are another example of defective discipleship. 

They start off well at the beginning of the chapter. They go where God tells them to go and do what He tells them to do in the way He told them to do it (v.6). But by verse 40, something has changed. It seems they’ve lost the ability to do what God sent them to do. 

What changed? The text gives us a few clues. 

  1. They had become faithless, trusting in themselves and in a predictable formula instead of having faith in Jesus alone (v. 41). 
  2. They had become prideful (v. 46, 49). No longer serving with a heart of humility, they were more concerned with status. 

Jesus’ Description of Discipleship

Jesus made it very clear to His disciples that following Him requires sacrifice and discomfort. 

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it (Luke 9:23-24, NASB).”

This is discipleship in a nutshell

  1. Deny yourself. It’s not about you.
  2. Take up your cross. It’s work. It’s heavy. And it comes with suffering. 
  3. Follow Jesus. Go where He leads. Do what He does. Become His apprentice. It’s a hands-on experience. (In other words, stick your hands in the bowl!)

True discipleship is not just a matter of making a commitment and resolving to do certain things. It’s choosing a life of submission and surrender to Jesus Christ as the Master of your life. 

And sometimes that’s extremely uncomfortable – even painful. 

Notice how Jesus instructed the disciples not to take along any earthly comforts when they went to minister (v. 3). If you want to follow Jesus, you must become comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

In my own way, I tried to use the meatball incident to teach this lesson to my daughter. As she tried to control her gag reflex and backed away from the kitchen, I repeated a common phrase in our household, “Sometimes you just have to do things you just don’t want to do.

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