When Jesus began his ministry, one of the first things he did was recruit a group of disciples to follow him. These twelve men would become his closest companions, learning from him and spreading his message after he was gone. But how exactly did Jesus recruit these disciples?
Calling the First Disciples
According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee when he saw two brothers, Simon (who would later be called Peter) and Andrew, fishing. He said to them:
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”
Immediately, they left their nets and followed him. A little further down the shore, Jesus saw two more brothers, James and John (sons of Zebedee), mending their nets in a boat with their father. He called out to them as well, and they too left everything to follow him.
This scene is often referred to as “the calling of the first disciples,” and it’s a powerful example of how Jesus recruited his followers: through personal invitation and an appeal to their sense of purpose.
Spreading the Word
After these initial recruits, Jesus continued to spread his message throughout Galilee. As he traveled from town to town, he encountered more people who were drawn to his teachings.
One such person was Levi (also known as Matthew), a tax collector who was despised by many Jews for collaborating with Rome. When Jesus saw him sitting at his tax booth, he simply said:
And just like that, Levi got up and followed him too.
This pattern would repeat itself over and over again as Jesus attracted more followers from all walks of life: fishermen like Peter and Andrew; zealots like Simon the Zealot; even a former prostitute named Mary Magdalene.
The Twelve Apostles
Out of all these followers, Jesus chose twelve men to be his closest companions and apostles. These were the people he trusted to carry on his work after he was gone.
The Gospels differ slightly on who exactly these twelve were, but they generally include Peter, James and John (the sons of Zebedee), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew (also known as Nathanael), Matthew, Thomas, James (the son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus (also known as Judas, not Iscariot), Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot (who would later betray him).
It’s worth noting that these twelve were not necessarily the most qualified or talented people Jesus had encountered. In fact, many of them were uneducated fishermen or tax collectors with questionable backgrounds. But they all shared a deep commitment to Jesus and his message.
The Power of Personal Connection
So how did Jesus recruit his disciples? It wasn’t through flashy marketing campaigns or social media influencers. Instead, he relied on personal connections and a powerful message that resonated with people from all walks of life.
By inviting people to follow him and appealing to their sense of purpose and meaning in life, Jesus was able to build a dedicated group of followers who would go on to spread his message throughout the world. And even today, over two thousand years later, his teachings continue to inspire millions around the globe.