Jesus knew He had only three years to select and train a team of men who could carry the gospel to the ends of the known world. How would He do it?
Jesus did not expect his disciples to volunteer or make a decision after one of His teaching/preaching sessions. He proactively sought out and confronted individuals who would leave everything and follow Him. We know of the Twelve who led (Acts 6:2) the Jerusalem church.
Toward the end of Jesus’s ministry, there was another group of 72 disciples. Jesus did not stop recruiting and training disciples. By the time of his resurrection, the number of “disciples” (Acts 1:15) had reached at least 120 and perhaps 500 by the ascension.
When the replacement of Judas was necessary, the apostles insisted that the new man must have “accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us. Beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must be a witness with us of His resurrection” (Acts 1:21–-22). Several were selected out of many qualified disciples. We know nothing of all these disciples.
How did Paul get into the ministry? After his amazing conversion (Acts 9:10–-19), three years in the desert, and two weeks in Jerusalem (Gal 1:17–-18), he returned to Tarsus. Six or seven years later, Barnabas came to seek him out as a partner in the Antioch church (Acts 11:25–-26).
What about Timothy? Paul recruited him: “You have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance” (2 Tim 3:10). Paul learned to make disciples by knowing how Jesus did it. We are to be constantly recruiting disciples.
He told the believers in Corinth, “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me” (1 Cor 4:16). This became the norm among the churches as in Philippi (Phil 3:17) and in Thessalonica: “You became followers of us and of the Lord” (1 Thes 1:6). Jesus’s last words were to “go and make disciples.” Are we being trained, and are we training others to follow God’s word as Jesus did?
“You have instructed us, dear Lord, to go and make disciples, and You have shown us how to do it. Give me the understanding, knowledge, and wisdom to help develop followers of Christ around the world.”