Jesus is a Leader (part 3)

August 11, 2011 — 1 Comment

Jesus is an amazing teacher, but He also needs to be able to equip others with His message and skills so they can go where He cannot go.

He knows that He could not do everything all on His own—He needs a team to help Him reach as many people as possible. Because Jesus knows this He starts early to develop a team of 12 men who would carry on His ministry and take His message literally to the ends of the earth. Earlier I mentioned that Jesus gives a one sentence sermon as soon as he arrives in Galilee. What I did not tell you is what His first action is after that message.

The first thing that we observe Jesus doing after He is tempted for 40 days in the desert is gathering four disciples. Jesus gets baptized by John the Baptist, He is tempted by the devil in the desert, then He preaches “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”[1] Then, we see Jesus start to gather His team before teaching any more than that one sentence or performing any miracles. In Jesus’ time, it was traditional for a teacher to wait for disciples and pupils to come to him, desiring to learn. However, Jesus goes against the common rules of that day (as He did with so many other things) and He goes to men and calls them to Him. He goes to their places of work and asks them to be His disciples.

We can make two observations on the significance of Jesus picking at least some of His disciples at this time: 1) To make sure His disciples have as many opportunities as possible to watch Him perform his ministry while learning in that process; and, 2) He knows these men will be carrying on His ministry so every moment of time He spends with them is precious.[2] At a later time in Matthew, we see Jesus coming to a key point in his ministry when He can no longer expect his 12 disciples to tag along and watch Him. Instead they need to also be dong the work.

A key part of the Gospel of Matthew is the end of chapter nine until the end of chapter ten. Jesus’ ministry is starting to gain significant momentum as He shows great teaching with authority and heals many people. In Matthew 9:18-21 many people are reaching out to Jesus for help faster than He can help them. Jesus heals a dead girl, a bleeding woman, and as He is traveling somewhere else, two blind men begin following Him asking Him to heal them. So, Jesus heals them and as soon as the two blind men leave, a demon possessed man who cannot speak is brought to Jesus. People are being brought to Jesus faster than He can heal them, and this is when we begin to see the equipping part of His ministry.

At this time, Jesus is traveling throughout towns and villages (by foot I might add) teaching in synagogues.[3] This is when we see Him start to lead His disciples. Jesus is doing as much of the ministry on His own that He can, but He needs help. This is a turning point in Jesus’ ministry because He now equips His disciples to go out. They have seen Him do His ministry of teaching and healing people. Now it is their turn to give it a try and do their best to multiply Jesus’ efforts. Jesus describes this scenario when He says, “ ‘The harvest is great, but the works are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.’ Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness.”[4] After this, Jesus gives His disciples advice on what to do, who to stay with while on their trip, how to rely on their faith, who to serve, what to take with them, what to expect, and what to beware of. Leadership expert John Maxwell comments on this passage of scripture observing, “Leaders must develop others to reach their potential. No one did this better than Jesus.

Even though He has not finished training His disciples, He sends them out to exercise their gifts. At some point we need to end the lecture and send them out to try what they have learned.”[5] Jesus makes a strategic move by sending out His disciples to begin doing their work before He died. This gives them time to practice with their teacher and mentor watching, while they can perfect and hone their ministry with Jesus’ help. The disciples have watched Jesus do His ministry, and now it is their time to go out and do it. And based on the text of Matthew, Jesus does everything He can to include His disciples in the ministry He is doing through teaching and healing so the disciples can observe and learn. Then Jesus takes additional time to equip them for the work they were about to do.

At the end of the Gospel of Matthew we see Jesus’ last words which are often called the “Great Commission.” In the Great Commission, Jesus encourages His disciples to take what they have learned and share it with the entire world. Jesus wants them to disciple others just as Jesus had disciple’d them: to baptize people in Jesus’ name and to teach the new Christians to obey all of Jesus’ commands. Jesus’ focus of equipping His disciples to go out and do great works is a key part of His leadership, but it is not the only part because He also is a servant through sacrifice.

Question: How do you equip others for work? 

[1] Matt. 4:17

[2] The book of Matthew does not tell us if Jesus chose all of His disciples at this time before delivering the Sermon on the Mount. We do know for sure, that Jesus at least picked four of His disciples before delivering His Sermon on the Mount.

[3] A synagogue is a type of community center where children attended schools, special events were held, where people came to hear the Bible read publicly and talk about it together.

[4] Matt. 9:37-10:1

[5] John C. Maxwell, The Maxwell Leadership Bible, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 1191.


Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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