Jesus Chooses His Disciples

Primary Pals for Teachers
Unit 05 - Jesus' Preparation for Ministry

TEXT: 4:18-22; John 1:35-51


The students will be able to describe Jesus' choosing of followers and disciples at the beginning of His ministry.


Introduction: Open your class by showing some articles indicative of different professions; for example, hammer, stethoscope, typewriter.

Progression of Events:

  1. When Jesus was on earth He called His helpers from many different walks of life.
  2. He called Simon (Peter) and Andrew from their nets.
  3. When Philip was called, he brought his friend Nathanael.
  4. Jesus' helpers were the ones who listened to His teachings and obeyed them.

Climax: Jesus needed helpers while He was on earth, and He still calls helpers today.

Conclusion: We want to answer God's call to us and be usable in His service.

Response: Your students will be able to list some qualities that Jesus looks for in His followers.


For three years Jesus carried on His earthly ministry. He preached to multitudes, healed many and did mighty works, but Jesus blessed these twelve men with something even greater. With these twelve men Jesus shared His life. They talked with Him, walked with Him and ate with Him. Because of that they were able to carry on the work of God with power and zeal (1 John 1:1-3).

Who were these men? Several were fishermen (Matthew 4:18,21). One was a despised tax collector (Matthew 9:9). Another was a member of an intensely nationalistic political party called the Zealots (Luke 6:15). And another, Judas, probably a businessman (John 13:29). They were a cross section of ordinary men. They were not from the schools of higher learning, not from the aristocracy, not wealthy, just ordinary men on whose hearts Christ could write His message (Acts 4:13).

In the Gospels these men are usually called disciples, because as long as Jesus was with them they were still learners; after that, they are invariably referred to as the Apostles. The reading in Matthew would give the impression that Christ's call to these men was His first contact with them. However, in reading John 1:35-51, it is apparent that some of them had been disciples of John the Baptist and had had contact with Jesus previous to their call. These men were willing to forsake all to follow Jesus (Matthew 19:27), and because of that the Gospel has been preserved for us.


  • Give each student a small doll, finger puppet, etc., or a card with the name of a disciple on it. As the lesson is told each "disciple" will be called. Have each disciple talk about how he feels about leaving his nets, family, etc., to follow Jesus.
  • Illustrate the occupations of the disciples.
  • Let each child draw a picture of a way he could be a helper (or follower) of Jesus.
  • Make a class collage—"Who Does Jesus Call?" Let them cut out pictures from magazines representing different occupations, nationalities, ages, etc. Paste them on a large sheet of poster board or construction paper. Then let each child write his name on one of various colored pieces of construction paper and include these names in the collage also.
  • Talk about how teams are chosen for games at school. Jesus doesn't do it that way—He chooses anyone who is willing to follow Him and do His work.


  1. What are some things a friend should be?
  2. Do you think Jesus would like to find those things in His friends or disciples?
  3. What were two of Jesus' disciples doing at the seashore?
  4. What things did Jesus teach the men?
  5. How many helpers did Jesus ask?
  6. Why did Jesus need helpers?
  7. What does Jesus want His helpers to do today?
  8. Why do we need to learn about Jesus?
  9. From what does Jesus save us?


  • Ask each child what he wants to be when he grows up. Use this as a theme to show the students how Jesus calls them to be followers of Him. Bring pictures showing a mommy, daddy, nurse, fireman, etc., to illustrate that one can be God's helper no matter what his job.
  • As a variation of this thought, find or make hats appropriate to a number of different professions. Let the child select which hat he wants to wear during the class session as you talk about being a helper for Jesus.
  • Use a phone. When it rings, we don't know what the person wants until we talk to him. God calls us too. We must answer His call if we want to know what He has to say to us.


Gather a number of objects to carry across the room. Say, "Oh, there are too many for only one person to carry. I need help." Let several of the children volunteer to help. Emphasize how Jesus needs lots of helpers to carry this Good News to everyone.

Bring a phone. Pretend to call different friends, asking for help. Repeat their excuses for not coming to help. For example, "Oh, you mean you're too busy? Okay, thanks anyway!" Emphasize how Jesus calls us to be helpers and we should do what He says, not make excuses.

What was Jesus' prerequisite for His disciples? Ask your students to come up with ideas of what Jesus was looking for in the men He chose to work with Him. List their suggestions, and then make a like list of what Jesus is looking for in those He chooses to be His helpers today.

Have some students dressed as a fisherman, rich man, doctor, etc. What did they have in common? Their backgrounds, appearances and manners were certainly different. Have each one produce a heart saying, "I am willing." Then have another group come out dressed as a painter, janitor, secretary, etc. Have them show the same kind of heart.

Tell the story using an overhead. Introduce the men Jesus called—one at a time. Let the concluding scene be the figure of Jesus with all the faces of the men He called around Him. Write in names of children in your group.


  • "Jesus Chooses His Disciples" — Filmstrip and cas­sette, Nazarene Publishing House
  • "Early Life of Jesus" — Pict-o-graph, Standard Publish­ing
  • "Jesus and His Apostles" — Happy Day card game, teaches the twelve names of the Apostles, Standard Publishing
  • "Jesus' Helpers" — Classroom dot-to-dot book, Stan­dard Publishing
  • "The Twelve Fishermen" — Filmstrip and cassette, Concordia
  • "Jesus' Twelve Disciples" — Arch Book, Concordia