I’ve noticed something in the Gospels.  It’s very subtle, easy to miss but it’s there.

Here it is: there is a huge difference between being an admirer of Jesus and a disciple of Jesus.

For example, look at John 3 where Nicodemus, a Pharisee, approaches Jesus to engage him in a conversation.  But read closely…it says Nicodemus came “by night.”  In other words, Nicodemus did not want to be seen with Jesus; didn’t want to risk be associated with him; he wasn’t ready to sacrifice his reputation or status by being known as one who follows Jesus.  So, he goes at night.

Or what about the “Rich Young Ruler” of Luke 18?  He starts our looking pretty good, asking “Master, what must I do to be saved?”  But when Jesus tells him he must sell all he has and give it to the poor, this young man hangs his head and walk away.

Both Nicodemus and the young man were mere admirers of Jesus, not disciples.

What’s the difference?  Well, you and I cannot simply admire Jesus and be a disciple.

Admiring happens from a safe distance; discipleship is an up-close-and-personal way of living.

Admirers cheer from the sidelines; disciples get in the game.

Admirers don’t risk anything; disciples give up everything.

Admirers talk the talk; disciples walk the walk.

Admirers can remain safely as they are; disciples are changed from the inside out.

There is a Latin phrase that reads “Lex sequndi lex credendi.”  It means the law of following is the law of belief.

In other words, following Jesus is the source for knowing Jesus.  You can’t really come to know Jesus simply by reading about him or listening to stories about him.  You have to follow him…not just admire (anyone can do that), but follow him…risk everything to know Jesus, not just know about him.

Being an admirer does not lead to change; being a disciple changes everything.