“Follow Me!” The call to His disciples was straightforward. Three short years later, after watching and listening to the Master, Jesus gave a final charge, “Go and make disciples.” (Commonly known as the Great Commission, it is the call to all followers of Christ as well.) Jesus chose to implement the fulfilling of the New Covenant through 12 men who He called, appointed, and commissioned (Willson, 1990). His methods were unconventional and revolutionary for that time. Training was extensively and exclusively provided by Jesus while living with Him for three years prior to His ascension. He taught about servant leadership and its meaning for both the leader and follower (Matt. 20:25-28). An examination of His actions in the Gospels showed that Jesus left behind the transferable patterns to be replicated. His methods included the incorporation of three different levels of discipleship: His interaction individually with Peter; His closest three (Peter, James, and John); and finally the group of 12. This paper identified and analyzed the three levels of discipleship Jesus modeled. These discipleship methods were then measured against modern leadership theories, and Jesus’s level of involvement and interaction with his disciples were critiqued in light of these modern theories in an effort to determine the effectiveness of this approach.
The Three Levels of Discipleship
From a small band of 12 to one of the largest religious followings today, the evidence reveals that Jesus’s efforts were effective. Christianity and its effects can be seen in countless churches, hospitals, and charitable organizations. The results of following Jesus has changed hearts for over 2000 years worldwide, His methods demand a second look.
Jesus Discipling Peter
The first relationship studied was with Peter. The Gospel accounts listed a variety of
interactions between Jesus and Peter that disclosed this discipleship process. The items in this method included Peter’s presence in the transfiguration (Mark 9:2ff), his participation in miraculous acts such as walking on water (Mark 6:45), and his confession that Jesus is the Christ (Mark 8:27ff). Jesus set His relationship with Peter apart when He changed his name from Simon to Peter (Mark 3:6). Following Peter’s claim that Jesus is the Christ (Matt. 16:18), a pronouncement was made regarding building the Church using a play on the name, Peter, meaning the rock.
Jesus Discipling the Inner Three (Peter, James, and John)
The second level of discipleship occurred in Jesus’ discipling of the Inner Three. Peter was a participant in all events described in the Gospels, with James and John being added to some of the more profound activities in His ministry, such as the transfiguration and the raising of the synagogue official’s daughter from the dead. In Mark 3:16, these three disciples were set apart from the other 12 in that their names were changed by Jesus, and the remaining nine were not. Peter was differentiated...