The following was written in January 2020:
Did you know that the Lord Jesus Christ had more than 12 disciples? It is important to read your Bible and pause to identify pieces of information you may have overlooked. Common depictions of the life and work of Jesus Christ are often misleading or flat out wrong. It’s your duty as a believer to search the scriptures and hold on to the truth (1 Thes. 5:21).
So, did Jesus have more than 12 disciples? According to the word of God, yes! Read Luke 10:1-17. In these verses Jesus is addressing seventy people He sent forth to preach ahead of Him. Someone might argue that the text never refers to them as disciples, but that is a moot point. We can tell these are disciples by comparing what was said to them (the seventy) and what was said to the twelve. Compare what you just read with Matthew chapter 10.
Note the following points as you compare these verses.
- Jesus tells the seventy and the twelve that they will be as sheep amongst wolves (Luke 10:3 and Matt. 10:16).
- He tells both groups not to take money or extra clothing (Matt. 10:9-10 and Luke 10:4).
- He tells both groups to go into the homes of the worthy and put their peace upon that house (Luke 10:5-8 and Matt. 10:11-13).
- He tells both groups to do the same thing if they are not received in a city (Matt. 10:14-15 and Luke 10:10-16).
- He tells both groups to heal people (Luke 10:9 and Matt. 10:8)
- Most importantly, Jesus tells both groups to preach the kingdom of God (or heaven) (Matt. 10:7 and Luke 10:9).
Why would Jesus give them similar instructions if both groups weren’t disciples? Remember, Jesus was followed by multitudes of people on a regular basis. These multitudes were made up of disciples, people who came to be heal, people who came to see miracles, believers, and people who claimed to believe.
Evidence for the previous statement can be found in John chapter 6. In this chapter, Jesus is addressing a crowd of people who were looking for Him (John 6:22-25). Note that these people crossed the sea to find Jesus. Jesus then begins to address this group about eternal life (verses 26-33), His relationship to the Father (verses 35-40), and the Father’s preeminence in choosing who comes to Him (verse 44). Some of the people in this crowd were Jesus’ disciples (verse 60).
Be sure to read verses 61-71. Many of these disciples who did not accept what Jesus was teaching stop following Him after these words (verse 66). These disciples were different than the twelve (verse 67). Therefore, we can see that Jesus had more than 12 students (disciples) that He trained to do some work. You can also read Acts 1:15 for additional confirmation of this fact.
Why is this fact important? Does this have in significance in your life as a follower of Jesus Christ? Why should you care if there were more than twelve disciples?
Are You a Disciple of Jesus?
What is a disciple? The Greek word translated into disciple means a learner i.e. a pupil. A disciple is a student. A student implies that there is a teacher. Who and what the student becomes depends on two things: 1) who the teacher is and 2) how the student applies his instruction (training) to his life. The Bible clearly indicates that Jesus is a teacher. When reading through the gospel accounts, take note of the many times Jesus is called Master. The meaning of this word in Greek means an instructor. Jesus privately taught His disciples many things but spoke to other people in parables (Matt. 13:10-11). Jesus has a very specific group of students which was more than twelve people. Are you one of Jesus’ disciples? How can you know?
Remember, many of Jesus’ disciples turned away from Him as recorded in John 6:66. Also read the interpretation of the Sower and the Seed parable in Matt. 13:18-23. Jesus explained that there will be people (disciples) who understand the “word of the kingdom” but will turn away for various reasons. The real question we should be asking ourselves is: Am I still a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ? How can I know?
Jesus makes this point plain for us all!
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed on Him, ‘If you continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.’” (John 8:31)
If you are a student of the Lord Jesus Christ, you will continue in His word. Jesus even told His disciples who became apostles to teach others to observe what He taught them (Matt. 28:18-20). When you stop observing what Jesus Christ taught, you prove that you are not one of His disciples!
Continuing in His Word
The issue of continuing in the word (teachings) of Jesus Christ is one of supreme importance. You will not be able to stumble your way into the kingdom of God (Matt. 7:13-14).
How often do you study the teachings of Jesus? How often do you analyze your own behavior in light of His teachings? Do you change when you realize your behavior is not aligned with what He taught?
These are very important questions we need to ask ourselves. We can easily get distracted by the cares of this life if we don’t constantly study the teachings of Jesus. Studying is just one piece of the puzzle. We must also live by the words we study (Luke 4:4). We live in a time where information of all kinds is abundant in a myriad of forms. Many people study different topics for the novelty of it. We must not use our Bible study time the same way the world uses the internet. We must study the teaching of Jesus Christ with full intent on keeping every last word.
Think about how much worldly knowledge you have acquired over your lifetime. How much of that do you use daily? Does the same thing apply to your knowledge of the word of God? Do you know a lot about what Jesus taught and what God expects of you? Is it merely knowledge you know or is it knowledge you put to good use? These are hard questions, but each one of us must seriously answer these questions regularly.
Being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is a continuous process of growth (II Pet. 3:18). This growth process is not about learning endlessly. Everything we have read thus far show that being a disciple is a two-part process, learning and application. Application means the act of putting to a special use or purpose. Yes, we all must learn to put our knowledge of the word of God to special use. Don’t treat this knowledge like seldom used dishes in an old china closet. This knowledge is for everyday use!!!
I challenge you to read through the gospel accounts to find the specific instructions Jesus gave to His disciples. I challenge you to put this information to special use. I challenge you to be a doer of the word and not just a hearer (James 1:22-25). And I challenge myself to do the same. Amen.