Jesus’ Method of Making Disciples

following_christ the ultimate adventure“When Jesus had finished saying these things the crowds were amazed at His teaching because He taught as one who had authority and not as their teachers of the law” (Mt. 7:28-29).

The crowds of people following Jesus were amazed at His teaching, for He taught as a Spokesman from God—not as the teachers of His time who were simply reflecting the authority of the Law. Jesus had just demonstrated the inadequacies of the Pharisees’ religious system. The righteousness they knew was not sufficient for entering His kingdom.

Like the Jewish rabbis, Jesus was gathering His own group of disciples and was training them. We are reminded of His words to Simon and Andrew in Mark 1: “Follow Me.” It was a simple phrase, yet one loaded with meaning. When Jesus called the twelve disciples (and many others who followed Him during His earthly ministry), His command demanded a response. In His call to discipleship, Jesus challenged the disciples to three things.

First, Jesus challenged the disciples to live with Him. The call “Follow Me” had a very real physical application. Jesus did not say these words and then walk away never to be seen by the disciples again. He expected them to leave what they were doing in order to physically walk after Him.

For three years after this call the twelve disciples lived with Jesus. They travelled to many different places with Him, seeking food and shelter in a host of ways. They saw Jesus in the morning when He got up and at night when He laid down. They watched Him pray, heal, preach, and teach. They observed Jesus in His dealings with difficult people. Through all of their experiences with Him, they learned that Jesus’ lifestyle was radically different from the one they had learned from birth. They were challenged to live a new life.

Second, Jesus challenged the disciples to learn how to live as His disciples. This new life did not come easily to them. They were naturally brash, selfish, and uncaring. Jesus had to teach them to be gentle, giving, and compassionate. On many occasions, He took the disciples aside in order to instruct them. When He told parables, He would explain the meaning to them after the crowds had departed. The disciples were often as “deaf” as the crowds when it came to understanding parables. Jesus asked questions of them, taught them, admonished them, prodded them to take steps of faith, nurtured them, and loved them.

Theirs was a special relationship that went much deeper than the one Jesus had with the crowds that followed Him for two reasons: First, Jesus had committed Himself to the disciples in every way. He made Himself accessible to them and confided in them. He had great expectations for them and occasionally showed frustration with them. You might recall the time the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee with Jesus asleep in the boat when a great storm came. Jesus chided them for their lack of faith. Jesus had committed Himself to His disciples, so He had great expectations of them.

Second, theirs was a unique relationship because the disciples were committed to Jesus in return. They had a growing love for Christ, and a desire to be obedient and loyal in everything. At times, they struggled with their faith, sin, and weaknesses, but they wanted to be faithful. They loved Jesus and were willing to give up everything (eventually most of them even gave up their lives) for this Man from Galilee.

Third, Jesus challenged the disciples to prepare others to hear the Good News. One of the marks of good students is they are able to do what the teacher has instructed them to do—even when the teacher is not present. Knowing this, Christ trained His disciples by encouraging them to take steps of faith on their own.

As the disciples travelled with Jesus, they spent most of their time observing their Master at work. Then, when they were ready, Jesus sent them out two-by-two to prepare towns for His coming. The disciples preached as they had seen Jesus preach. They sought faithful God-fearing people in the towns as Jesus had done. They healed the sick and comforted the bereaved as Jesus did. They learned what ministry was all about by spending time with Jesus and imitating their Master.

In what ways is our disciple-making like that of Jesus? In what ways is it different?

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About Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr.

Pastor Joe has been serving in Christian ministry for 15 years. He desires to nurture and disciple believers, helping them experience a deeper level of commitment and faith in the Lord. He is the author of "Back to the Basics: A Guide for Christian Living." Through a commitment to servant leadership, he proclaims relevant Bible truth, equips the saints for effective ministry, and builds up the body of Christ. Married eleven years, Pastor Joe and his wife live in New Jersey and have two children.
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14 Responses to Jesus’ Method of Making Disciples

  1. He taught as a Spokesman from God—not as the teachers of His time who were simply reflecting the authority of the Law. Jesus had just demonstrated the inadequacies of the Pharisees’ religious system. The righteousness they knew was not sufficient for entering His kingdom.

    Hello Pastor Joe,
    Since the Pharisees aren’t mentioned in this chapter at all, or the previous one, rather Jesus mentions Gentiles, pagans, and hypocrites, I’m assuming that you’re connecting “hypocrite” and “Pharisees” as one and the same, as if all Pharisees were hypocrites and all hypocrites Pharisees, which is the usual Christian perspective.

    I am perplexed by this understanding I’ve heard my whole life, so if it is what you mean, I’d like to ask your perspective on a few things.

    1) Since Christianity adopted Pharisaical theology on major issues such as afterlife, reward and punishment, angels, resurrection of the dead, etc. (all of which the Sadducees rejected), and

    2) Since many Pharisees were friendly to Jesus, warned Jesus, and were followers of Jesus, why does Christianity consistently paint them in such an unfavorable light?

    The Pharisees were were trying to call Israel back to obedience to God, which is a very good thing! Let’s not forget that keeping the Torah faithfully is their duty (Jews), and not keeping it is what caused them to be exiled. It was also the reason they were currently under pagan-gentile-foreign rule!
    (Deut 4, and 28, for two examples)

    Keeping the Torah, or as we say “the Law”, is part of the covenant terms they accepted with God at Sinai, and it was never given as the means to enter into salvation – they were already a redeemed people when they received and agreed to it (the Torah).

    This isn’t to say there were no Jews who assumed that simply because they were Jewish they were in right relationship, but I don’t think that charge can be levied against the Pharisees as a whole and it seriously misrepresents how the Jewish people view the Torah.

    • Great questions! I understand how this can be confusing.

      I agree the Pharisees were trying to promote obedience to God, at first anyway. They started out sincere, but then they began to make rules with the idea that people would have to break the man-made rules before they broke the scriptural rules. That way people would be warned ahead of time if they were about to sin. Pretty soon, though, no one could tell which rules were from God and which were from the Pharisees. Yet the Pharisees kept on adding rules to their list until they had more than six hundred rules the Scriptures never even mentioned. For their legalism, Jesus rebuked them soundly.

      I do not believe the Pharisees were friendly to Jesus nor do I believe they followed Him. That’s why Christianity consistently paints them in such an unfavorable light. The Pharisees thought their religious system had all the answers. They could not accept Jesus because He did not fit into their system. We could miss Christ for the same reason!

      The Pharisees were Jewish religious leaders who separated themselves from anything non-Jewish and zealously followed the Torah or Old Testament laws, as well as their own religious traditions. They were highly respected in the community, but hated Jesus because He challenged their proud attitudes and dishonorable motives. They behaved as though their own religious rules were just as important as God’s rules for living. They believed salvation came from perfect obedience to the law and was not based on forgiveness of sins. They became so obsessed with obeying their legal interpretations in every detail that they completely ignored God’s message of grace and mercy. They were more concerned with appearing good than obeying God. John the Baptist criticized them (Mt. 3:7) for being legalistic and hypocritical, following the letter of the law while ignoring its true intent (to point people to Christ).

      I believe Jesus calls us to more than empty ritual and legalistic obedience to rules. I believe He looks beyond our words and religious activity to see if our hearts backs up what we say and do.

      What do you think?

      • I never heard back from you. Would you like to continue this conversation?

      • Hello Pastor Joe and sorry for the long delay, I’ve been traveling. Thank you for your reply, and yes, I’ll offer my perspective too.

        Basically, I do understand where you’re coming from since I shared the same understanding too – for many years. My interaction with Hebrew, Jews, and Judaism however, has given me some things to think about.

        “… but then they began to make rules with the idea that people would have to break the man-made rules before they broke the scriptural rules.

        (I’m not sure how deeply you’ve studied these issues, so I hope my answers don’t seem off-putting)

        These ‘rules’ you mention are are called “fences” that the sages/leaders created to protect Israel from inadvertently breaking the commandments of God, which they agreed to diligently obey and follow. It’s easy for us to discount these rules and commandments given our usual Christian understanding of grace and mercy (many think there was no grace or mercy prior to Jesus, which is false) but God makes it very clear He means for them to literally follow His Torah. For 2 examples: God was preparing to kill Moses for not circumcising his son, and Aaron’s sons were killed for doing their own thing, offering “strange fire.”

        “Yet the Pharisees kept on adding rules to their list until they had more than six hundred rules the Scriptures never even mentioned. For their legalism, Jesus rebuked them soundly.”

        The 613 rules are the number of commandments in the Torah, i.e., God’s directives to Israel on how to live. This is only one version, of course, but the reckoning ‘613’ stuck and is idiomatic for saying that one is keeping all the Torah, not simply picking and choosing convenient commandments. The problem is that often God doesn’t give explicit instructions on HOW to keep His commandments. E.g., He tells Israel to observe the Sabbath for “all time” and in “all their generations”, and that they are to “do no work” on the holy Sabbath, yet He doesn’t define what ‘work’ is and so it must be interpreted. Different leaders – and by the 1st century, different Jewish sects – had varying interpretations of how they were to observe them.

        Interestingly, the Pharisees were not the strictest sect of Judaism, and were called those who “seek after the smooth ways” by the Qumran community (not necessarily the Essenes).

        Woe to you hypocritical Torah- teachers and P’rushim! You pay your tithes of mint, dill and cumin; but you have neglected the weightier matters of the Torah- justice, mercy, trust. These are the things you should have attended to- without neglecting the others!” Matthew 23:23

        Jesus rebuked them for hypocrisy. Having extra traditions (tithing mint, dill and cumin for example, which is not a requirement of Torah) isn’t what he rebuked them for but rather for placing their traditions above the Torah. (Matt 23:23) yet he also says in that same verse that they should not neglect their traditions! (Some of which Jesus also followed, like offering a prayer before eating, when the Torah only commands to bless God after eating)

        “I do not believe the Pharisees were friendly to Jesus nor do I believe they followed Him.”

        I disagree:

        Pharisees refused to eat with anyone who didn’t have an equally high level of observance yet, they invite Jesus over to eat. They also ask his opinion on how to properly interpret the Torah. Sometimes to trick him, but not always.

        They warned Jesus about Herod’s intention to kill him: Lk 13:31

        Acts 5:33-39 the Pharisee Gamaliel urged caution on behalf of the Way.

        Acts 23:6-9: “We find nothing wrong with this man. What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” Pharisees siding with Paul against the Sanhedrin Sadducees.

        Acts 15:5: “But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees…”

        “The Pharisees were Jewish religious leaders who separated themselves from anything non-Jewish and zealously followed the Torah or Old Testament laws, as well as their own religious traditions.”

        Yes, and this is all positive for a number of reasons, not least of which is that they needed to maintain ritual purity and they’d suffered greatly for not obeying God’s Torah (being exiled, being under foreign, PAGAN rule etc) and Gentiles practiced very un-godly lifestyles that would cause them defilement while God’s presence was in the Temple. Btw, Jesus also separated himself from non-Jews!

        They behaved as though their own religious rules were just as important as God’s rules for living.

        True. But we do the very same thing! Look how dependent Catholics are on the pope and church rulings. Then, look how Protestants are dependent upon the writings and doctrines created by the reformers, many of which contradict explicit teachings by Jesus and the Apostles. We all do it.

        They believed salvation came from perfect obedience to the law and was not based on forgiveness of sins.

        That’s what Christians think they believed, but this isn’t the case. They didn’t think in Christian terms! They understood it is incumbent upon Jews to follow God’s commandments. They knew they were in covenant with God, and this was the “terms” of it. They were already a “redeemed people” when they received the Torah, but they’d neglected it and had suffered God’s punishment and promised curses for that.

        “They were more concerned with appearing good than obeying God.

        Interestingly, the Talmud expresses the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, listing 7 types, only one being righteous. But even though I’ve known many hypocritical Christians, I always defend Christianity against those who say we’re “all a bunch of hypocrites” because so many actually are, or appear to be, especially to outsiders.

        • Thanks for sharing. While I have studied these issues, I appreciate your response. You make some good points.

          It sounds like your beliefs switched at some point in your life. What happened?

          • “It sounds like your beliefs switched at some point in your life. What happened?”

            Lol, it’s a (very) long story. Shorter version: I married a Jewish man 20+ years ago and began to wonder about things like: “how do the Jews fit into the plan of God?” Or, “why do we Christians say that God “changes not” , “keeps His promises”, and is “wholly reliable”, and on the other hand say the ‘chosen people’ aren’t chosen anymore, and that Christians somehow replaced them? I couldn’t find the scripture that backed this up…

            Later, due to a book I was assigned to read for a seminary class, I forced myself to take a break from engaging in eisegesis (reading meanings into the text), and to then jump to an immediate “application for my life” as many fellow Christians habitually do. So, for example, where God says ‘Israel’ or ‘Judah’, I didn’t replace it with ‘Christianity’. Basically, I tried to be less allegorical or “spiritual” and more literal, as a “thought experiment.”

            Eventually our daughter became fluent in Hebrew which, due to her insights, greatly improved our bible study. Also, interaction with my Jewish family and Judaism revealed some blind spots we have in Christianity, specifically regarding the Pharisees and Sadducees.

            I’m sure you know the difference between them, but most Christians do not. The Sadducees, like other 1st century Jewish sects, ceased to exist and the Pharisaical movement was the bases for what later became Rabbinic Judaism, which – surprisingly, took on many of Jesus’ rulings about how to properly interpret the Torah. (The appropriateness of healing on the Sabbath, for example).

            The interesting thing to me was that Christianity has (rightly) accepted much of Pharisaical theology; angles, afterlife, reward and punishment, eternal life, resurrection from the dead, etc., all of which the Sadducees rejected. The Pharisees held to this interpretation of the scriptures while we Gentiles were still very far from God, and pagan. Yet when those Gentiles converted to follow Israel’s God (later becoming known as Christians) they/we took on this same theology. So, I asked myself, why do we degrade them so much?

            Anyway, they were not all the same any more than all Christians are. They were split between the house of Shammai and the house of Hillel and differed quite a bit.

  2. Chris Brann says:

    Awesome post Joe.
    Thank you
    A good reminder of my calling from Christ, as I sit at home unable to go to church today.
    I do not need man made things just to follow Christ and worship the Father no matter what.

  3. Oh that Thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down. To tabernacle with us and to minister; to rub shoulders with us and chasten and laugh.

  4. A great message Pastor Joe and yes your summery of the Pharisees is also correct, we remember what Jesus said when He rebuked them…..

    John 5: 39 – 40 Ye Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

    The Disciples although taught by Jesus even more than recorded, had the anointing of The Holy Spirit but not the indwelling, they did not receive The Holy Ghost until Jesus had returned to Heaven and Pentecost had come, which they were to wait and pray for and as we see in the Scripture below, when they received Him they witnessed in power and many were added to the Church all of those who believed and those who had repented and were Baptized by John and many more were added after to the Church daily.

    John 14:16-18 And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

    John 14:25-27 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my Name, He shall Teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

    John 7:38-39 He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of Living water. But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.

    Christian Love in our Unity in Christ Jesus – Anne.

  5. You are a gifted Teacher-Preacher. Awesome WORD!!!!
    ~O.W. Prince

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