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A disciple means a follower. In Mark's gospel there is reference to the disciples of the Pharisees (2:19) and the followers of John the Baptist were known as disciples.

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Introduction

A disciple means a follower. In Mark's gospel there is reference to the disciples of the Pharisees (2:19) and the followers of John the Baptist were known as disciples. A Christian Disciple is a person who follows the ways and teachings of Jesus Christ. It is a collective word for Christians while the Apostles were the twelve chosen by Jesus to be his closest followers and to preach the Word of God to all nations. He chose his apostles in order to train them to share in his work of preaching and healing, and to eventually carry on his mission after he had departed. In a sense he was to live on in them. The twelve apostles were to represent the twelve tribes of Israel that God made the first covenant with. The first disciples were ordinary people who Jesus asked to follow him. It is strange that Jesus did not pick any anyone rich or powerful but four ordinary fishermen to be his most loyal companions. This shows that former lifestyles were no longer relevant - everyone was accepted in the Kingdom of God. ...read more.

Middle

When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the "sinners" and tax collectors, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." We have seen how the disciples just dropped everything to follow Jesus but it was not always so. In the case of "The Rich Young Man" (Mk10:17-31) the man, when offered discipleship, refused because he felt had too much to give up. Jesus then explains to the Apostles how hard it is for people who have a lot of worldly possessions to be rich in the Kingdom of God because to enter the Kingdom of God, you must be willing to sacrifice all that you own on earth for God. In fact, he tells us in the story of the Widow of the Treasury (Mk14:41-44) that you must be prepared give all you have to God to be a true disciple of God: 'Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. ...read more.

Conclusion

When Jesus says this he means that to follow him you have to put yourself last in everything, to not care about your social status and to not want privileges - to deny yourself luxuries that the world offers. When he says "carry his cross" he is saying that his disciples must be prepared to follow Jesus even when it means persecution to the point of death. This is also displayed in the Request of James and John where Jesus teaches to be first in Heaven, you must be last on earth - you must be the servant of all. Another point that Mark displays in his gospel is forgiveness i.e. that God will forgive you no matter what you have done as long as you are sorry. We see this when, although Peter promises Jesus at the Last Supper that he will never disassociate himself from him, he does when faced with persecution. However, he is forgiven and is still "the rock on which the church was built". We learn from this that we all sin and go astray from time to time no matter how devoted we are but God is always willing to forgive, we just need to ask for forgiveness. ...read more.

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