The Training of the Disciples
Text: Matthew 4:18-25
One of the most fascinating things to note and to study in the Gospels is the way in which Jesus trained Disciples. Matthew noted how Jesus began calling people to be His Disciples very early in His public ministry.
“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee,
saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and
Andrew his brother, casting a net into the
sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said
to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you
fishers of men.’ They immediately left their
nets and followed Him.”
One of the reasons for calling Disciples was stated clearly here. Were there other reasons why He called and trained Disciples?
REASONS FOR TRAINING OF DISCIPLES
A number of reasons may be suggested as to why Jesus made Disciples. Let us consider some of them. Let us consider four of the most obvious reasons why Jesus called and trained disciples.
1. As an object lesson to the Multitudes
Multitudes flocked to hear John the Baptiser. Multitudes also thronged Jesus as He spoke. However, multitudes tended to remain where they were. They were contented to just listen and little else.
The calling of Disciples would be a good object lesson to the multitudes. They would be able to see with their own eyes that there was much more to faith in Jesus than just passive listening to the messages preached!
2. As a Test
Many heard the soul-stirring messages John preached. The words Jesus spoke had even more power! Many hearts must have been moved and touched as Jesus spoke. However, there was a test that they must attempt to pass! How many would be prepared to make some sacrifices for the sake of Jesus?
3. Immediate ministry
The work that Jesus began immediately drew multitudes! If John had been successful, Jesus was even more so! It would be impossible for Jesus to do the work that God had given Him all by Himself! Thus Jesus invited people who said that they believed in Him as the Messiah, to follow Him. They were to form a team of people who would have an immediate ministry. They would assist Jesus in all the work that He did. The work Jesus did was most demanding. Only the stout-hearted would succeed in being His Disciples.
4. Future ministry
The Disciples of course would not know that Jesus had great plans for them! In time, Jesus would appoint them as His Apostles. They would become the leaders of the new community that would be formed- the Church! First, believers must undergo intense training as Disciples!
MANY DISCIPLES NEEDED
Jesus began with calling two Disciples called Peter and Andrew. He then went on to call two more.
“Going on from there, He saw two other brothers,
James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother,
In the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left the boat
And their father, and followed Him.”
In just a little while, four men were called to be disciples. However, four men would not be sufficient for the tasks ahead. More were needed. Jesus wanted others to be Disciples. None of the Gospels gave full details of how Jesus chose His Disciples. Neither did the Gospels elaborate on how each of the Twelve Disciples was chosen. Only a few were mentioned. In the above texts, two pairs of brothers were named. Nevertheless, some important lessons may be learned concerning the process of how Jesus called people to be Disciples. Let us consider two essential lessons at this juncture.
1. They must have a very high regard for Jesus
Some of them were already disciples of John. Their master had already prepared them to follow the Messiah when He appeared on the scene. Andrew was named as one of the Disciples of John and he ended up becoming a disciple of Jesus (Cf.John 1:35-42).
The Disciples had varying degrees of knowledge and conviction concerning the true identity of Jesus. Judas certainly never acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah, but he must have had a high enough regard for Him to become a disciple.
2. They must be prepared to make sacrifices to follow Jesus
Jesus was very forthright when He called people to be His disciples. He knew that the disciples would have to sort out their priorities. He knew that all of them would have to make one sacrifice or another in order to follow Him. The four fishermen had to leave their thriving fishing trade to follow Jesus!
Few seem to take the issue of discipleship seriously today. Yet, few things are as important as pursuing our faith as true and faithful disciples!