No one made disciples like Jesus!
Incredibly, Jesus, who never traveled more than 200 miles from where He was born, launched a global movement from scratch that has no equal in history. And He did it without writing a book, founding a school or university or conquering with an army.
How? He chose twelve men and concentrated most of His time and focus on them. Rather than leveraging the crowds that flocked to Him or taking political advantage of His popularity and the ferment of national aspirations, He refused to bring God’s rule in by force or pander to anything but a heavenly perspective (see Matthew 16:23).
Jesus was instead looking to make disciples and subjects of His one-of-a-kind Kingdom, not raise up a rebel army to fight those of the earth. He was the Suffering Servant come to save us from our sins, not an all-conquering ruler coming to re-assert God’s rightful reign on the earth – that is reserved for His return.
Consider the men He picked – they were not from the high echelons of their society – the ‘Who’s Who?’ of their day. He chose in effect, nobodies – the ‘who?’ of common stock.
Among the twelve were wet, clueless fishermen, a few political zealots and the odd tax collector. They ‘smelled of fish and revolution’ as one writer put it.
Yes, Jesus chose them and gave them front-row seats and back-stage passes for the 3 or so years of His ministry.
In doing so, he gave us principles and a pattern for continuing the same task he now calls us to – of making of disciples after Him.
As I considered the Gospel accounts of Jesus and his method of preparing and raising disciples, 5 things that Jesus did consistently stand out. If we are to make disciples with the same goals, means and mettle as Jesus, then let us consider and imitate how he did it, so that we can do the same.
1) Invitation – at the heart of God’s Gospel to us is an invitation and a call to ‘come to Him’ for salvation: forgiveness, hope and healing. But discipleship is also a call to follow. When Jesus begun His earthy ministry, after a night of prayer, He chose the twelve from among an already a larger group of disciples. In fact, He appointed them to be with Him (see Mark 3:13-19, Matthew 10:1 and Luke 6:12-16).
Likewise, we need to be actively and prayerfully seeking people that we can reach out to and disciple (as well as those who may disciple us). To be a disciple who makes other disciples, you have to be actively looking for someone else to walk with. Invite them to meet and journey with you – once a week at the least, but regularly and as consistently as possible- to pray, read the Word and help each other be and make disciples of others.
I have found in my own life that if I’m not active in finding and meeting with others to disciple, I begin, by default and sinful bent, to stall in my walk with the Lord and to begin to pander to my own needs and desires.
Model – Jesus spent countless days and nights with this group of 12 throughout their apprenticeship. They got to see, hear and experience close up what many of us can only dream of or imagine. Jesus taught by repetition, remark and revelation, through the situations they encountered and amidst challenges that arose. He told unforgettable stories; he demanded their obedience and trust, and he left an indelible pattern on their minds and hearts.
But most of all, he showed them how He wanted them to live, by his life and example. And most people need to be shown, not just to be told. That’s why true discipleship is always a ‘show and tell’ endeavor in the Scriptures.
We are all likewise called to live like Jesus, to model a way of life to those we lead and are discipling. ‘Follow me, as I follow Christ’ was how Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 11:1.
As I have learnt, you can teach all you know, but you will reproduce who you are, whether in your child/ren or in those you disciple. More is caught than taught. So, like Jesus, we make disciples best by modelling and living out what we teach and proclaim.
As John Maxwell said, a true leader knows the way, shows the way and goes the way.
Next week, we will explore the next 3 disciple-making principles Jesus consistently followed.
 While the Gospels are mostly selective accounts excepted out of the life and ministry of Jesus during his adult life, more than 60% of the Gospel of Mark is the record of Jesus being alone with his disciples.