How Jesus Made Disciples 2

Imagine sitting at the feet of the great Rabbi Jesus as he taught you about the things of the Kingdom of God. Imagine hanging onto every word he spoke to you just trying to understand a fraction of what you were hearing. In the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day the Jewish people believed that becoming a scholar of the Scriptures was the ultimate achievement. Following a rabbi was more than just listening to him teach but learning how he lived and applied the Word of God.

When I read the Scriptures it seems to me that the disciples and the people Jesus came across did not fully “get it.” They were confused, had doubts, and even selfish motives. This comforts me to know that Jesus hung out with, taught, and LOVED people just like me…confused, full of doubts, selfish.

I love to learn and I love to teach. Looking at the way Jesus teaches others in Scripture has impacted the way I do these two things. Let’s look at some primary ways Jesus taught his disciples:

Jesus Taught Scripture: Jesus read and knew the Old Testament Scriptures of the Torah (first five books of Moses), Neviim (Historical and prophetic books), and the Ketuvim (Writings- Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, etc). Jesus filled his teachings with allusions and references to these Scriptures and the majority of his Jewish audience would pick up on them because they knew the Scriptures too.

An example of this is found in Matthew 22: 37-29 when Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to “…love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

The first command to love your Lord is from the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:5 and the second command to love your neighbor is found in Leviticus 19:18. Both passages have the same Hebrew word ve-ahavta in them. When the people heard this answer from Jesus they would most likely be triggered to remember those Old Testament texts. [1]

Jesus trusted the Scripture and knew every word is God breathed and useful for teaching. He knew that teaching the Old Testament Scriptures to others would string the beautiful story of God’s redemption together and prepare them for the coming crucifixion and resurrection.

You and I are now sit with the full Bible in front of us and we can string the beautiful pearls of the Old Testament to the New Testament and teach people what Jesus has done for them and what it means to follow him.

Jesus Asked Questions: It fascinates me that Jesus’ primary method of teaching was to ask questions. He asked 307 questions and only straight up answers a handful of them. Jesus asks some seemingly simple questions, but they are also the most profound. Some include “what do you want?” (John 1:38), “where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25), and “do you want to get well?” (John 5:6). If you really stop and search your heart, those three questions alone can drum up a lot of therapy sessions.

I don’t think Jesus asked so many questions because he didn’t know the answers, but rather he wanted the people answering them to actually have to answer them. He wanted to challenge and transform the people in front of him and he is still doing that with us. If we don’t answer the simple yet profound questions about God and about ourselves we will never really know the depth of the gospel.

Try asking some of these intentional questions with people in your life:

  • What are you worried about?
  • How are you being drained? How are you being filled?
  • What bold prayers are you praying?
  • What lie is your heart believing? What truth from God counters that lie?

Jesus Lived Life with Them: Jesus lived life with his disciples. He taught them when they ate together and when they worked together. He walked with them in their daily lives. He confronted them and comforted them and showed abundant patience and compassion for them. He did not separate himself from their pain and their doubts. He did not shy away from telling them the reality of what would happen to him and to them as they continued to follow him.

Jesus knew how to deliver a sermon but he also knew how to integrate what he wanted his disciples to learn through life experiences. I think Jesus shows us that sometimes things are taught by being caught. He was humble enough and loving enough to live with his disciples and not just tell them but show them the way to live.

As we read the Bible today we not only learn from Jesus’ teachings but also from his methods of teaching. We can take the ways Jesus taught his disciples and apply them to how we make disciples today. I encourage you to look at the people God has placed in your life and be intentional with a few of them by reading and studying the Word of God together, asking them simple and profound questions, and living life with them.

Caitlin Armstrong

The Truth Republic, Content Manager/The Church of Eleven22, Equipping Minister

[1] Ann Spangler & Lois Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, 45-46.

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