How Jesus Chose  His Disciples.

Cultural Background.

Greeks study in order to comprehend; the Hebrews study in order to revere
— Abraham Joshua Heschel

Education started early for Jewish Lad.

At age five, young boys went to the local synagogue school to learn Hebrew and memorise the Torah. (Pentateuch)

  • First century children are heading to Bet Sefer for their education. Bet Sefer means House of the Book.
  • At the ages of six through twelve, Jewish children began their formal education. Both boys and girls attended synagogue school and learned to read and write. The textbook was the Torah and the goal was not just to read but to memorise the sacred text.
  • As a child of six you would go to the synagogue and the most respected man in the city would greet you with a slate and he would put a dollop of honey on the slate and then he would remove the ancient scroll of the Torah. As you sat speechless and in awe, the rabbi would have you taste the honey on your slate and tell you that the Torah is sweeter than the honeycomb.

7 The instructions of the LORD are perfect, reviving the soul.
The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
8 The commandments of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are clear, giving insight for living.
9 Reverence for the LORD is pure, lasting forever.
The laws of the LORD are true; each one is fair.
10 They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.
— Psalm 19:7-20

By the time of his bar mitzvah at age 13, a typical Jewish young man was very conversant with God’s Word having memorised the Torah (Pentateuch), the Neviim (The Prophets) and the Kituvin (The Writings), which comprised all of the Hebrew Scripture (Tanach) of that day.

  • Following this sacred milestone, usually the boy began to learn the family trade. Only the best of the best continued on in their education.”
  • “For the best of the best,” the next educational opportunity was called Bet Midrash. Boys - from age 13 to 15 - who were deemed worthy to continue their educational pursuits went on to study (and memorise) the entire Tanach (Old Testament), as well as learning the family trade.
  • Of those who finished Bet Midrash, again only the best of the best were able to pursue the final educational leg, which was called Bet Talmud. This was the longest in duration; it went from the age of 15 to 30.
  • To participate, he MUST be invited by a Rabbi and, if selected, he would begin a process of grooming that would lead to the potential of becoming a Rabbi at age 30.
  • Those who were chosen were referred to as talmidim.
    • They would literally follow in the dust of their rabbi - desiring to emulate him in all of his mannerisms.
      • They would eat the same food in exactly the same way as their rabbi. 
      • They would go to sleep and awake the same way as their rabbi and, more importantly, they would learn to study Torah and understand God the exact same way as their rabbi.”
  • There they would hone their ability to INTERPRET God’s Word as it relates to all the practical issues of daily life.


As part of the selection process, a rabbi would intensively test, examine, grill, and interrogate any may-I- become-your-disciple applicant in his understanding of the Tanach.

  • What the rabbi was looking for was not just a detailed knowledge of the Tanach and the oral tradition, but the ability of this candidate to ask “good questions” in order to better understand the interpretive issues resident in that body of knowledge.


Remember, the issue to an observant Jew in the First Century was never what God’s Word says. They all knew what it said. They had memorised it. Rather, the issue was: “what does it mean – an interpretation question?”


The rabbi was most interested in choosing disciples who exhibited the mettle, intelligence, commitment, and persistence to become an “interpreter of God’s Word just like him.” Can this potential disciple, really become just like me, or putting it another way, can this potential talmid become a mirror image of me?

If after his questioning, the rabbi felt that you didn’t have what it would take to be one of his disciples, he would encourage you to go home and continue to learn the family trade (Go ply your trade) or business.


Come Follow Me

A rabbi wasn’t going to spend his valuable time training someone that he didn’t think could be successful. If however, he felt that you did possess the potential to become one of his disciples, he would say to you “Come and follow me,” a phrase that we see Jesus use in the gospels.

By becoming a rabbi’s disciple, the young Jewish lad readily agreed (no coercion needed) to totally surrender to the rabbi’s authority in all areas of interpreting the Scriptures for his life.

In fact that submission was something the new disciple truly wanted to do.

  • Using a computer analogy as regards his understanding of God’s Word, the new disciple willingly deleted everything in his own “hard drive” of what he previously thought was “right” and “true,” and started uploading whatever his rabbi held to be right and true, i.e. the yoke of his rabbi.
  • In this discipling posture, the rabbi was given special honor and esteem above the disciple’s biological father (who gave him physical life) because his rabbi would be the one to give the disciple spiritual life - the wisdom of God’s Word.


Yoke of the Rabbi

If a rabbi was interested in you becoming one of his disciples, there is a phrase or idiom that would become very important to you. If you were to become his disciple, you would be agreeing to take upon yourself the “yoke” of the rabbi.

The “yoke” would be his teachings, lifestyle, etc.

28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
— Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus makes it clear that his yoke is not difficult or heavy according to Matthew 11:28-30. Jesus was telling all those who would consider being one of his disciples that his teachings and his ways were not a burden or onerous but instead following his lifestyle and teachings made life easy and light.



Why did Jesus Choose the Twelve?

Peter, Andrew, James and John are fishing when Jesus called them to “come and follow Him.” The fact that they were fishing, (plying their trade) suggest they were not the top students from the graduating class of Jerusalem Theological Seminary.

Bluntly, it would appear that Jesus was settling for the rejects, those that the other rabbis had already turned down.

If you were a rabbi looking for men to become part of the current religious system of that time, these men were definitely not your first choices. 


He saw the potential that exists within all humanity. He knew that what was inside Him was inside those men as well.

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
— John 15:16

Jesus knew that God, the Source and Father of All dwelt not only in Him but in those men as well. They were made in His image

They just needed to discover it.

He knew that within all of mankind hides the ability to tap into God, into the universal Spirit that permeates the universe and when that occurs, all things are possible. 



What did Jesus see in the First Disciples?

One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. 2 He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. 3 Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.
— Luke 5:1-3

1.  Jesus is attracted to the individual in the Crowd…

Peter and his partners were onlookers, they were not with the crowd. They were about their business…and Jesus came to their beach, their workplace.

Jesus saw the individual in the crowd. He saw Peter on the beach that day. He had a long term plan in mind for Peter when he invaded his space.

Don’t just look at the crowd. Look for the individual in the crowd. Ask God to help you see the person not just the people.
— Lesson One

2. Jesus is attracted to Emptiness

 Peter’s boat was empty, but not as empty as Peter was.

  • Peter’s empty boat, should have been filled with fish, but not today.
  • But today was different, Jesus chose to get into his empty boat
  • It wasn’t the empty boat that Jesus was attracted to, it was the emptiness in Peter.
  • Peter had no idea what was about to happen to him when Jesus chose his boat; his life to get into.
    • Jesus cannot come into a life that it full of itself.
    • However, he will always fill the void of despair, brokenness, emptiness, guilt, shame and disappointment. Where there is need.
Jesus didn’t look at the lack; he looked at the potential. Look for people who are not full of themselves
— Lesson Two

3. Jesus is Attracted to a Posture of Preparation

Peter had fished all night with no results BUT Jesus finds him on the shore mending His nets getting rid of all the stuff that had got caught up in the net.

  • Cleaning the rubbish that gets caught up in the daily duties of life
  • Attitudes that are wrong
  • Things that if left will cause us to trip up later

Peter could have got totally frustrated over the nights fishing, but his posture was to prepare for another day. Clean the nets, mend the nets, get ready to go again.

  • Preparation births expectation, expectation births activation.
  • Peter's was resolve was to set his natural eye to prepare for tomorrow attracted the eye of Jesus that changed his Today.
  • He wasn’t going to give up.
Look for people who are expectant for a better tomorrow. Their posture is expectation. They are doing what they can today with tomorrow in mind. They are cleaning out the “stuff” that clutters the world in preparation for a new day.
— Lesson Three

4. Jesus is Attracted to Trust, Service and Generosity.

 Why would Jesus ask him to push his own boat out?

  • His boat represented his livelihood.
  • Jesus not only gets in it, but asks him to push it out.

Ever had to a push a boat out?

  • Your have to use force, energy.
  • Usually get your feet wet.
  • And it isn’t for your benefit
  • It is so someone else can enjoy the journey…

Jesus knows what is going to happen soon…the miracle of the fish and the ultimate transformation of Peter so He takes him on a Journey.


  1. Trust. – Pete, are you going to trust me with what you have?

The boat was Peter's livelihood. It might not have been much, but it was all that Pete had.Jesus wanted to take what Pete was using in His natural world and use it for Kingdom purpose. He preached from His boat to people Peter didn’t know.

Fishing was Peter’s life and his boat was the means to facilitate his whole well being…Jesus gets in and says push me out? Trust Me.

Look for people who will take the chance. Look for people who will trust God without questions. Look for people who are willing to give God whatever they have.
— Lesson Four

2.  Service – By Allowing Jesus into his boat and pushing him out he created a platform for Jesus to preach from.

His boat became Jesus Pulpit

Lesson: Look for these qualities..

Their lives exist to elevate Christ. All that I have and am is a Pulpit from which Christ wants to Preach from. Look for people who cant separate, work, family, church, sport into non-connecting spaces. Every part of my life is set aside for His Purpose and His service.
— Lesson Five

3. Generosity

Peter did all of this NOT knowing what was going to happen next. He knew nothing about the great miracle about to happen. He knew nothing about the change of lifestyle about to happen. He was just a generous person.

Look for generous souls. People who give their time, talent and treasure
— Lesson Six.