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How Did Jesus Make Disciples?

Be Disciples AND Make Disciples

One of Jesus’ most important commands to us was ‘Go, Make Disciples of all Nations, Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to Obey all I have commanded you. And Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’

Jesus instructs us to Make Disciples…but how did Jesus make disciples?

Jesus both told us what a disciple is and modeled throughout his 3-year public ministry, how to make disciples


What did Jesus say a disciple was? How does he define it?

Jesus repeats in many different ways and on several different occasions that a disciple is not simply a person who hears Jesus’ teaching. Hearing sermons in a church service week-after-week, regularly listening to sermons online or hearing Jesus’ teaching in a Bible study or small group doesn’t make a person a disciple.

In Matt 7:21-29 Jesus says, ‘not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but those who actually DO the will of my Father.”‘

Jesus even redefines what family meant to him in light of this. When his family; including his mother and brothers, came looking for him one day when he was busy teaching in a crowded house, some of those gathered said to him;

“Jesus, your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they want to speak to you.” Jesus asked “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mothers and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”

Notice Jesus says it again, it’s those who ‘do the will of his Father’ that are his family

But how does one ‘do’ the will of the Father? How do we know what His will actually is?

Jesus addresses this in several instances too! Thank God He doesn’t leave us in the dark concerning this!

One day as Jesus was speaking, a woman in the crowd called out, “God bless your mother – the womb from which you came, and the breasts that nursed you!” Jesus replied, But even more blessed are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice”

We do the will of our Father when we hear the word of God AND put it into practice. When we hear and obey! (or as we call it; Truth+Dare)

Jesus’ blood brother, James, reinforces this point further when he says;

‘Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.’

Does your definition of a true disciple match Jesus’ definition?


Many people say they love Jesus, but don’t do the things He tells them…

Whereas Jesus actually says this; “If you love me, you will obey my commandments…”

God expresses His love to us through Jesus…his unconditional love, grace and mercy. We express our love back to God through obedience to Jesus. We show our love for Jesus as we both hear his voice and obey what He says to us!


After Jesus says ‘If you love me, obey my commandments.’ he says And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.’

Jesus asks the Father to give the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him…

It says this also in Acts 5:32; “We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.


Not only is the Holy Spirit given by God to those who obey him. But the Father and the Son will make their home with such people! As Jesus says; ‘All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.’


Jesus told this story;

‘What do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, “Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.” The son answered, “No, I won’t go,” but later he changed his mind and went anyway. Then the father told the other son, “You go,” and he said, “Yes, sir I will.” But he didn’t go. Which of the two obeyed his father?”

They replied, “The first.”

Then Jesus explained his meaning

‘I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.’

Notice, it’s not those who say they will do somethingbut those who actually do it. And those kind of people can be the most surprising…it’s not always the people we think…

And Jesus proves this in many ways…

Matthew-Levi is one example of whom Jesus made a disciple. As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. Later Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other notorious sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this scripture: “I want to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

Jesus came to call those who think they’re not good enough!

If you are struggling knowing who to start with in terms of actively and intentionally making disciples…you can begin where Jesus did…he went to the notorious sinners, those who are not good and those who were ‘sick’

Paul followed Jesus’ example when he went to Corinth to preach the gospel and make disciples. He said not many of his disciples were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called them. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important…

[You can read more about the First Disciples the apostle Paul made in Corinth HERE!]


Let’s not kid ourselves…it costs us to both BE and MAKE disciples. It’s not easy to both hear and obey Jesus in the face of opposition and opposing desires.

A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them,

‘If you want to be my disciple, you must by comparison, hate everyone else – your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? […] So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own […] Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!’

Notice, it’s possible to belong to the large crowd that ‘follows Jesus’ whilst not actually becoming a disciple of his…

Are you a disciple, or are you just in the crowd following Jesus?

In Jesus’ most important parable, he speaks about a sower, seed and 4 soils. Only one of the four soils is defined as ‘good’ [I will be writing an article about this soon].

The ‘good soil’ is not only defined as someone who ‘hears and obeys’ but someone who does this to the point of multiplication (x30, x60, x100)! In other words, it’s not just about ‘being a disciple’ but also about ‘making disciples’

Which soil am I? Which soil are you?

We produce this fruit by abiding in Him and letting His word abide in us. As Jesus says, ‘Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me’ and ‘When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father’

So a true disciple is someone who hears, understands, obeys and helps others to do the same (multiplies/making more disciples)

I want to be a ‘true disciple’ of Jesus…don’t you?


As we have seen, being a disciple is not just about ‘following Jesus’. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”

If we don’t know where or how to find new people to disciple…may I suggest, coming to Jesus and learning from Him? He says he will show us how to fish for people! (He has indeed showed us how to do this throughout the gospels, and captured the essence of how to go about it in Luke 10:1-12 – see HERE)

Perhaps we don’t feel we have been empowered to make disciples?

Then may I advise that we receive the Holy Spirit as Jesus said, ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.’

Perhaps we don’t feel we’ve been given permission or authorized to make disciples?

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Jesus has all authority and he has given us his authority to go and make disciples, baptizing them and training them to obey

As we make disciples, we also train those disciples to make disciples so that we multiply (As the apostle Paul also did and modeled in 2 Timothy 2:2)

So, are you a disciple who both hears AND obeys?

Are you actively and intentionally making disciples?

Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

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Peter J. Farmer

Peter J. Farmer is a church planter working with teams and networks to catalyze new forms of church that murmurate into movements...

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Lee Horsfall

    Disciples make disciples.
    This is best characterised by the fact that Jesus told his disciples to go and make disciples.

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