Questions Kids Ask: What’s a Disciple to Do?

Luke 4:16-19, Matthew 28:16-20

Once upon a time, Jesus chose twelve men to be his closest followers. They were his spiritual cabinet, his inner circle. They received his teachings and were given his power. For the most part, they did great things, healing the sick and preaching good news, but oftentimes they simply muddled through, not really getting the heart of Jesus’ message, competing with one another for the highest position, and trying to shut down people they saw as potential competitors.

Beyond this inner circle, there were many other followers: some men, but according to the gospels, a lot of women as well. What was unique about Jesus’ early ministry team was the involvement of women in a culture where men and women who weren’t married or in the same family seldom talked to each other. In fact, on the day of resurrection, the women were given the first “great commission” to go and share the good news that Christ is alive. Women became leaders in the early church, according to the letters of Paul and Acts of the Apostles.

Over the past twenty-one centuries this circle has expanded, and now it includes us. Our time is different, our tasks and technology are different, our world is different, but we still share some things with the first followers of Jesus – we are part of a faith community – we are to share good news, tell good things about God, and bring healing and wholeness to the world.

Disciples are people who want to learn, to live, and to love the word and wisdom of God.

When I was asked this question at a picnic recently, it gave me pause….How can kids be disciples today? How can we adults – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and older friends – be disciples too? I think it has to do with our church’s vision – to learn, love, and live the word of God.

A disciple is a follower of Jesus, someone who walks the path with Jesus. We do that early on by learning things about Jesus and people who love him. We learn what was important to Jesus: any ideas about what was important to Jesus?


If we read the books about Jesus, we will learn that he talked about a world – the kingdom or realm of God – where everyone belonged, everyone had enough love and food and friends, where everyone took time to listen to God, to pray, and then to care for each other. There were no outsiders in God’s realm, no bullying, no one second class. Jesus’ Jewish faith used the word “Shalom” to talk about this: Do you know what Shalom means?


It means peace, but more than that, it means a world where love and harmony and joy and friendship rule. Where war and hate simply don’t exist. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he said “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

What do you think “on earth as it is in heaven” might mean?


Right here, we live like it’s heaven: we welcome everyone, look for the best in everyone, help everyone, and love others – and love ourselves, because God loves us.

Disciples learn about God’s ways, they also love: Jesus’ way of life, of love and Shalom, of joy and friendship, is what we want to do more than anything. We make mistakes, we get mad at our brothers and sisters, parents, friends, and we do some hurtful things; but we try to patch things up and ask for forgiveness – and then go back to putting love first and seeing the best in others.

I think I’ve told you the story of the sculptor Michelangelo and the boulder. A neighbor observed him rolling a boulder up the hill to his house and then getting his hammer and chisel and pounding on the boulder. The neighbor was overcome by curiosity, crossed the street, and asked, “Why are you pounding on this boulder?” To which the sculptor replied, “There’s an angel inside and I want to let it out.”

Loving Jesus’ way means trying to see the best – the God part – in everyone and then doing things to bring it out, to make the other and you become the best people possible.

And, then we “live the word of God” – there is a saying “Let your life speak.” Being a disciple means letting God shine through you in acts of love and kindness. It means helping people live better, caring for the earth, remembering people who are forgotten – and all of us can do this – we can clean the beaches, plant flowers for butterflies, make food for the hungry, collect for children in India (Angel’s Place), welcome strangers, and we can say good words. You may not always feel like saying to folk “God loves you” or “Jesus is with you,” but you can say “I’ll be your friend,” and “I’m here to help.”

In one of his parables, Jesus tells of people who asked, “When did we see you, God?” And the answer is “everywhere.” It is here, but it is at summer camp, school, soccer practice, shopping, going to work, and everywhere we go. For when you see the best in others and share the good news of your life, you are angel making, and you will see God. That’s what a disciple does!