How movements spread

Zacchaeus - Palma, Jacopo-2

Jesus knhow important relationships are in the spread of a movement. From the beginning, the movement he founded grew through the favourable reports that spread from family member to family member, from neighbour to neighbour, from workmate to workmate.

Jesus recruited his band of disciples through relational networks. John the Baptist, a relative of Jesus, connected his disciple Andrew to Jesus. Andrew found his brother Simon Peter. Jesus called Philip who was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s town. Philip recruited Nathanael. The first four disciples Jesus called were two sets of brothers who were in business together.

Jesus turned individual ministry encounters into opportunities to impact whole social networks. The Gerasenean demoniac begged Jesus to be allowed to join his band of disciples. Instead Jesus told him to go home to his family and town and tell them what God had done for him. The testimony of the Samaritan woman at the well resulted in many people in her hometown believing in Jesus. Soon after Levi became a follower of Jesus, we find Jesus and his disciples at Levi’s house eating a meal with the members of Levi’s social network described as “many tax collectors and ‘sinners’”.

When Jesus reached out to Zacchaeus. His ultimate aim was not just to convert Zacchaeus but to reach his family and social network. The meal in Zacchaeus’ home was both a powerful way of demonstrating grace to an outcast and of ministering grace to Zacchaeus’ family and friends. At the end of the encounter Jesus says, “Today salvation has come to this house. . .”

Insight: Movements spread like wildfire along networks of pre-existing relationships.