In a world where bigger is usually assorted with better, it seems that Jesus might be considered a failure by today's standards. After all, the Lord spent most of His time with only twelve disciples, one of whom betrayed Him. However, Jesus knew that by concentrating on twelve disciples He would leave this world, but leave behind a legacy.
1. Jesus concentrated on teaching, training and developing twelve disciples into church leaders. By putting quality ahead of quantity, the Lord set a pattern for how godly leaders are to develop. There can be no short cuts to developing leaders for the church. Mark writes, "He appointed twelve, that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons." (Mark 3:14) The Lord selects those He wants. No person can presume to be a leader of God's people by their own volition.
2. Jesus concentrated on twelve because He wanted future leaders to give their entire attention to building well-rounded godly character. It is a myth that Godliness can be manufactured through large theological factory like settings. Even Paul commended Timothy for learning lessons on Godliness when he wrote, "You know all about my teaching, conduct, purpose, patience, love persecutions, sufferings and perseverance." (2 Tim. 3:10) Real training happens in the context of a total life experience.
3 . Jesus employed all of His thoughts, emotions and efforts to assure that the apostles would replicate His life and thinking into the body of believers. In Acts 2:42-47 it says, "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and the apostles did many wonders and miraculous signs. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." The apostles knew no other way but concentrated ministry that sprang from a total commitment to the Lord in all dimensions of life.
4. Jesus focused His objectives on twelve apostles who would teach through their examples. Many people were amazed at the transformation in the lives of twelve ordinary men. Dr. Luke writes, "When people saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13) We become a lot like the people we spend most of our time and mental energies on.
5. Jesus condensed many of His most complicated teaching to simple statements that could be transmitted through the non-formally educated disciples. Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31,32) By concentrating much of His teaching in a few statements, the disciples could easily retain, reinforce and reproduce what they had learned.
6. Jesus used local settings to keep His teaching contextualized. The Lord never went beyond 75 miles from the place of His birth. By using local people, with local illustrations and local situations, the Lord was able to provide a rich context that was easily reproducible.
7. Jesus aimed at particular people who were most apt to respond to His message and have a life changing experience. While the world is looking for better methods, Jesus looked for better people. Pray and ask the Lord for wisdom in selecting a few disciples to train for Godliness.
8. Jesus distilled the grains of truth from volumes of knowledge so everyone could read and study His life and teachings. In God's providential wisdom, the life and ministry of Christ is recorded in the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Yet, the Bible says, "In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Col. 2:6) We should follow Christ's example in keeping our teaching straightforward, principled and consistent with our Master's example.