We are continuing to follow Jesus around with our imaginary video camera, watching and pondering as we watch Jesus recruit, coach, and commission His disciples. Most of the scenes are scripted by the Gospel writer Mark, who learned the stories later while traveling with and assisting the apostle Peter. Be asking how Jesus’ example applies to us today! Following is the fifth phase of our journey.
PART V. JESUS BEGINS INTERACTIVE INSTRUCTION WITH HIS MINISTRY TEAM
Jesus fame has spread to the point of drawing people to walk north 90 miles from Judea, and south 50 miles from Sidon to hear Him teach and watch Him heal. His impact in Galilee is hitting full stride and He is constantly the center of public attention. However, He never loses sight of the internal process of completing His recruiting process and forming His inner circle ministry team of twelve. We see Him move them beyond observation learning to involve them in the mechanics of His ministry.
He has to stay in wide open spaces because of the crowds – a need accommodated by the Galilean seashore. There He instructs His disciples to obtain a boat – maybe one of theirs – that He can sit in off shore to avoid being mobbed by those desperate for a healing touch. (3:7)
After this time with the “great multitude”, it must have been difficult for Jesus and a hand picked group to escape the crowd and “go up to the mountain” for a leadership retreat. There “He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons.” (3:14-15) The atmosphere of this event must have been like a coach calling out His starting lineup before the first game of the season.
He apparently retained a “second string”, as we see at a later time when Jesus is “alone” and “His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him” questions. A special bond was developing between Jesus and those who were following Him to learn obedience to God. At one point He says He considers those who do the will of God to be like family to Him. (3:35) The rewards of the serious pursuers of God’s will are status as an “insider” with Jesus, and special insight into God’s truth. “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God,” while “those who are outside get everything in parables.” (4:11)
It became a repeated cycle in the learning process of the “insiders”. He would publicly speak to the crowds with “many such parables” – teaser stories that raised significant questions to stimulate thought without laying out immediate answers. Then “He was explaining (Greek epeluen: to issue a conclusion about a matter – see Ac 19:39; 2 P 1:20) everything privately to His own disciples.”(4:33-34)
Other ways of learning would occur in the discipling process – but we can see that this private discussion in response to questions was a basic ingredient in the cognitive part of Jesus’ instruction. So if we want to engage in the discipling process in our current world, we must include opportunity for questions with the guarantee to receive answers.