How does a disciple of Jesus Christ nurture and prepare other disciples to spread the gospel in a way that most accurately portrays the message? Disciple-making teaches others what it means to be a follower of Jesus the reality of living out what Jesus and all of Scripture teaches to every part of our lives. Jesus’ teachings must be taught with understanding and accuracy. How one teaches these truths makes a crucial difference in what is grasped and how it is accepted.
Jesus wanted His Words to be Heard with the Heart
Jesus was deeply concerned with His new disciples taking His words to heart. He told new Jewish believers, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). He taught His disciples and anyone who would listen, in direct, matter-of-fact statements, through parables, stories, metaphors, questions, and more, depending on the situation. He was a master at knowing the right approach with a variety of people at just the right time. What brought His teaching home was how He lived out the teachings in learnable, personal traits of His own life and experience with people.
Jesus was the perfect example for all people, whether man or woman, young or old and for any time in history. Carol Kent brings this out in Becoming A Woman of Influence, “Jesus’ life gives us an example of how to live, His principles for influencing lives are timeless, and more than that, they are available for us to use today.” He may not have drawn people in by His physical appearance (Isaiah 53:2), but He drew them in with how He spoke, His character traits, demeanor, and serving nature. Becoming like Him and teaching other disciples to follow His example gives authenticity and credibility to the truths of the gospel and biblical principles.
Jesus Taught with His Whole Being
There are some particular personal traits of Jesus relevant to teaching disciples that especially stand out. First of all, consider the authority of His presence and strength of character. Even though He was strong, He was also kind and compassionate when the situation required a gentle touch. He was continually a man of fellowship, making time for people His passion and priority. Jesus was a premier educator. His teaching style was perfect for each moment and situation. Finally, He was the ultimate servant, always sacrificing Himself through selfless acts to the very end.
Jesus Acted with Authority and Strength of Character
Jesus knew from where He drew His authority and strength. He gave honor to where it was due. He made it clear that He was linked to the Father in whatever He said or did when He said in John 5:19, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.”
Jesus made prayer a priority. He sent the disciples away in a boat while, “He went up to the mountain by Himself to pray” (Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35), setting an example before His disciples of taking time alone to commune with the Father. Additionally, He also taught them how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13. He honored the Father, declaring His name and glorifying Him in His teaching and conversation.
Walking in the Spirit, Jesus worshiped and spoke in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). He promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide Christians “into all the truth” (John 16:13) and taught that the Holy Spirit “will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26). In doing so, Jesus emphasized the Holy Spirit would be our guide in disciple-making.
Jesus spoke with confidence and authority but also with self-control. For instance, He made it clear that He had the authority to forgive sins despite the scribes’ objections in Matthew 9:6. In Matthew 12:8, He said, “For the Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath” as He answered the Pharisees who objected to His disciples picking and eating from the grainfields on the Sabbath. Jesus was not afraid to confidently make an example of the Pharisees’ hypocrisy in teaching the law, “do not do according to their deeds; for they say things, and do not do them” (Matt. 23:3).
Jesus’ strong character traits were important and necessary for women training others to follow Jesus’ example. In speaking to the Galatians, Paul made a point of saying that all who have faith in Jesus Christ are “clothed” with Christ, “male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:27-28). Consider Phoebe, a woman of the New Testament Church with a take-charge personality. She was a deaconess, whom Paul described as “a helper of many,” but also someone who needed a hand in the huge task she had undertaken in serving. She followed Jesus’ example of confidently demonstrating her commitment with disciplined action (Rom. 16:1-2).
Jesus was a Man of Compassion
Many times, Jesus looked over the multitudes with com, passion. “And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36). In Matthew 8, we find Him willing to reach out His hand to a leper, considered unclean, and heal him. In Matthew 18:2 and Mark 10:13-16, we see His gentle approach to children, taking them “in His arms” while He blessed them and laid His hands on them. To the woman accused of adultery (John 8:10-11), He spoke non-accusing words of tenderness and gentleness. The woman in Luke 7:37-50, who compassionately anointed His feet with her tears and expensive perfume, experienced His heart of tenderness and forgiveness.
Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He was never too busy to be patient when patience was needed, reach out to the sick in body and spirit, and listen to the lonely and confused. He is our perfect example of how to remain calm, whether He was debating the Pharisees, teaching the disciples, or talking with children. Over and over, Jesus demonstrated how a disciple-maker shows a deep, compassionate interest in those to whom they are teaching or ministering to.
Jesus was a Man of Fellowship
When it was time for Jesus to start His ministry, it was like He had no time to waste. He filled almost every moment with people and made every moment with people count. He traveled, mile after mile, with no thought for His personal needs. He knew the “harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few” (Matt. 9:37). He had no time for the self-righteous but for sinners who knew they needed a Savior. Jesus made room for people in every possible way and situation.
Jesus didn’t have fellowship rules. He met with anyone who was willing. The Pharisees criticized Him for meeting with sinners, including some of the worst tax-collectors, but He didn’t listen. He even took the hand of a leper, allowed His friend Mary to sit at His feet and learn, and had lunch a meal with a Pharisee (Matt. 9:11-13, Matt. 8:3, Luke 10:39, Luke 11:37). No one was excluded. He showed us how to include all that are willing to listen.
Teaching How to Teach
One of the most important things Jesus told His disciples was, “have no fear of them…what I tell you in the dark, say in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops” (Matt. 10:26-27, ESV). Jesus wanted His disciples to be bold and fearless in action, proclaiming the gospel publicly, a friend to sinners. He wanted them to be like their teacher, “but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).
Jesus taught in many ways, especially in parables, because He knew those who had eyes to see and ears to hear would understand Him (Matt. 13:13). He knew His sheep would hear His voice, believe Him and follow Him (John 10:26-27). Stories in figurative language of everyday life are strong teachers.
Jesus, the Sacrificial Servant
In everything Jesus did and spoke, He was the sacrificial servant and, by this example, showed His disciples how to deny themselves, glorify the Father (Matt. 16:24-27) and “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). Jesus wasn’t worried about what He would wear or what He would eat (Luke 12:23), nor what treasures could be accumulated on earth (Matt. 6:19), or where He would sleep at night (Matt. 8:20). He trusted the Father to provide for all they needed. To love the Father with all their heart and soul and their neighbor as themselves was the message at the heart of all His instruction and training of them to be disciple-makers (Luke 10:27).
While disciple-makers need to be competent in understanding the gospel message, basic teachings of Jesus, and all of Scripture, they do not have to be accomplished, professional theologians. How disciple-makers live out the message through their actions, words, and deeds is far more important than whether they know all the Scriptures perfectly.
*All Scriptures are from the New American Standard Bible unless indicated.
 Carol Kent. Becoming a Woman of Influence (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2006), 27.