Daily Devotional – Wednesday, January 26, 2022
‘Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”’ (Matthew 16:24, NLT)
If someone were to ask a group of Christians how many disciples Jesus had, I can almost guarantee that the majority of people would answer, “twelve”…and they would all be wrong! Jesus did choose twelve men from amongst his disciples to be apostles (Luke 6:13), but as to how many people followed Jesus as his disciples, he had far more. As you read through the book of Luke, you begin to gain a better understanding of the people who followed Jesus. Jesus had women among his followers and many of these ladies had the means to be able to not only follow, but they also financially supported the work being done (Luke 8:1-3). Later, Luke tells us of when Jesus sent out the twelve apostles for a little field experience—to preach and to heal people (Luke 9:1-6); some time after their return, he sends out seventy-two of his disciples to do the same (Luke 10:1-20).
When we reduce the number of disciples to the twelve apostles, we lose sight of the vast following that Jesus had during the time he walked on this earth. People wanted to be with him. They heard in his teaching an authority that the religious leaders did not possess. They witnessed raw power as he performed miracles—healing sicknesses, casting out demons and even controlling the weather. They experienced an acceptance and love that had been withheld from many of them during their lifetimes. As Jesus travelled from town to town, his group of disciples grew.
However, John does tell us that not all who started to follow Jesus continued to do so. Jesus taught some difficult things (John 6) and some who were initially eager, deserted him…and their belief in him. Jesus accepts anyone who chooses to be his disciple, but we must continue to choose him. Following Jesus does not guarantee ease in this life, but his disciples can be certain of eternal life in heaven with him if we stay true. Hold fast to Jesus…walk with him each day…learn the ways of the Master…and be astounded at what he can and will do in and through those who choose to obey him. Yes, you can be his disciple too!
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!