IIT UBF - University Bible Fellowship at IIT




Jesus Calls the Twelve Apostles

Date: May. 19, 2007

Author: Bob Henkins

Mark 3:13-35

Key Verse: Mark 3:13-14

“Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve–designating them apostles–that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach....”

The United States Marine Corp’s motto is “Semper Fidelis” in Latin it means “Always faithful” and their slogan is “A Few Good Men.” Their belief is that "a few good men” is enough to get their job done. The Marines probably got their idea from Jesus who called a few good men to be always faithful. Today’s passage is significant in Mark’s gospel because we see the calling of the twelve apostles. In calling the twelve, Jesus begins to lay a foundation for ministry that will reach the whole world, and even future generations. Through this we can learn the mind and heart of Jesus. Through Jesus’ calling may we become one of the few good men.

First, Jesus called to him those he wanted (13).

In the previous passage, Jesus had been through a spiritual battle with the Pharisees. He compassionately healed a man with a shriveled hand. The religious leaders should have seen through this event that Jesus was someone special, not just your average joe. Instead of acknowledging Jesus as God and opening their hearts to him, they closed their hearts and began to plan how to kill him. How dark the world had become. Those who should have been shepherds, serving people with compassion, were filled with murderous thoughts. Most people would have been frustrated and either given up or taken revenge. What did Jesus do at this time?

It was a hopeless situation, but Jesus didn’t despair, instead he sought God for direction and help. Let’s read verse 13. “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him.” Luke 6:12 gives us more insight it says, “Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” God gave Jesus the direction he needed. Through prayer, Jesus asked God’s what to do and God gave him wisdom to call twelve men. He saw that the world needed shepherds. There were so many needy people and those who were called to serve them, the religious leaders, either abused their power or were indifferent to the suffering people. For this reason Jesus called the twelve to be the shepherds for their generation.

We can see from the beginning Jesus was the one doing the chosing. Jesus told them in John 15:16a, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last.” Jesus chose the twelve according to God’s purpose to bear spiritual fruit for his glory. Jesus’ calling was not earned or even deserved. It was purely God’s grace. It was not as if Jesus went on the free agent market to get the best players and negotiated with them to sign a long term contract. It was more like a spiritual draft. This calling was God’s grace, so the disciples should be thankful. Sometimes they may feel unworthy due to their failures and repeated sins. They may think, “Maybe God made a mistake calling me?” and want to give up their calling. But God calls people by his sovereign choice, and God does not make mistakes or revoke his calling. Romans 11:29 says, “...for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”

Whom did Jesus call? “...those he wanted....” Jesus did not call the disciples randomly, or vaguely. Jesus had a clear choice and purpose in mind when he chose the twelve. Jesus chose the best men to fit his purpose. To our eyes, the disciples may look unqualified compared to the religious leaders. But to Jesus, they were the best men. Humanly we don’t understand why Jesus calls whom he calls. There is a divine mystery in Jesus’ calling. In time God reveals his good purpose in calling each person.

Amy Carmichael was born in 1867 in Ireland with brown eyes. But blue was her favorite color. As a girl, she prayed one night, “God make my eyes blue.” The next morning, she ran to the mirror expecting to see pretty blue eyes; but they were still brown. Later, she went to India as a missionary. Sometimes she disguised herself as an Indian woman to help the suffering Indian people. One day she realized that blue eyes would ruin her disguise. In God’s purpose, brown eyes were just right for her mission. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We may not understand everything at the time of calling. But those who hear and follow Jesus’ calling can be sure of God’s love and purpose for them and in the end God will give them victory no matter what their present situation is.

Verse 13 ends, “...and they came to him.” Those whom Jesus called came willingly. God does not force anyone to come, he gives us free choice. Jesus calls but we must hear and follow his calling. Sometimes we may wonder, “Why did Jesus choose me, I wish he would choose someone else.” But we have to know that it is a very special privilege to be chosen by Jesus to be his disciple. I don’t know if you had this experience or not but do you remember as a youth when teams are chosen to play some sort of game? No one wanted to be the last one left because it meant that you were not wanted. But to be chosen first meant that you were wanted and needed. It was good to be chosen for a game but how much of a privilege is it to be chosen by God. It means that God want us and loves us and has a special purpose for our lives. Therefore we must thank God and do our best to follow him.

Second, “that they might be with him” (14).

Let’s read verse 14. “He appointed twelve–designating them apostles–that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach....” Out of all those whom Jesus called, he chose twelve of them to be special. From the beginning, Jesus designated them apostles. An apostle is one who is sent as a messenger of the gospel. These men would be ambassadors of Jesus’ kingdom. Their spiritual influence would change the world. Of course, Jesus knew that they were not perfect and that they needed changing. However, Jesus was sure that they would grow to be great apostles. Jesus prepared them by letting them “be with him.” This was the greatest privilege. Jesus is God. Jesus’ touch could heal any disease. His word could drive out demons and bring new life a soul. Everyone wanted to be with Jesus but he gave this special privilege to the twelve.

What does it mean to “be with him”? Literally it means to be with him. And the disciples did just that, they followed Jesus wherever he went. They were with him in the fields, by the seashore, on the mountain, on the road, in the synagogue, and at the temple. They were with him at the house, and with a mouse. They were with him in the boat and with a goat. They were with him here and there, they were with him everywhere.

Through being with Jesus they learned the word of God. Jesus taught them his mind and heart. They could see his compassion for the suffering people. They learned what it means to be a true shepherd. We even have a phrase in our time showing how we learn from Jesus’ life. The phrase is WWJD signifying “What would Jesus do” Through this we can think about what would Jesus do in certain situations and hopefully we would do the same. Being with Jesus sanctified their inner beings. It was a kind of cleansing of their souls and they were changed. For example, Matthew, a former tax collector and very selfish man, was completely changed and wrote the beautiful Sermon on the Mount after he was with Jesus. Jesus formed godly character in each of the disciples by being with them.

So was being with Jesus only a privilege the disciples could experience? Can we be with Jesus today? Yes! We can be with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Jesus dwells in those who obey his words. Jesus remains in those who remain in his words. We can be with Jesus through Bible study, Christian fellowship, and prayer. We should invite Jesus into all of our relationships. We must be with Jesus and his people. We must be with Jesus in our homes and in our dorms. In those settings, we reveal our sins and see others’ sins. We must learn to repent daily. We must learn to bear with others, forgive others, and pray for others. Let’s remember that the secret to growing as apostles is to be with Jesus and his people all the time.

Third, “send them out to preach” (14-15).

We learned earlier that Jesus called the twelve with a purpose, what was it? Look at verse 14, “He appointed twelve – designating them apostles – that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.” Jesus called them so that he could send them out to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. Preaching is declaring God’s word. In doing this Jesus gave them his authority. Look at verse 15. “...and to have authority to drive out demons.” Jesus’ disciples had the authority of Jesus’ word. To bear this kind of authority and responsibility, the disciples needed to learn and grow constantly. Especially, they needed to learn the humility of Jesus and the servant attitude of Jesus and the compassionate father’s heart of Jesus. They also needed to know the Scriptures, and the meaning of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection, and how to communicate with love and power. They needed to be courageous and bold. Each one was different, and each had his own gift from God. Yet they all participated in the preaching ministry.

As God’s people we too must always be ready to preach the word of God. St. Paul said to Timothy, “…I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Ti 4:2). From generation to generation, God chooses those who are willing to spread the news about his kingdom. Therefore we must preach the word as of first importance.

Look at verse 15 again. “...and to have authority to drive out demons.” Gospel work is primarily a struggle against the power of Satan and his agents. When Jesus’ message is preached in the authority that Jesus gives, demons tremble and flee, and people are set free.

Fourth, these are the twelve (16-19).

Mark introduces the apostles. Let’s read verses 16-19. “These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.” The chosen apostles were all men, and they were hard workers. They had learning minds and were flexible like new wineskins. They were faithful and courageous in putting Jesus first. Jesus took these men and changed them, by being with them, into men of God who shook the world with the gospel.

Let’s look at Simon briefly. Jesus gave him the name “Peter” which means “rock.” Jesus believed he would be a true spiritual leader and the foundation of his church. Peter was a hardworking man with a learning attitude toward Jesus, but his inner fear was his big problem. On the outside he appeared strong and bold but from time to time he would become unstable and make big mistakes. On the night Jesus was arrested, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. It was a complete failure as Jesus’ disciple. Peter wept bitterly. But he also remembered Jesus’ words to him. Jesus had foretold that this would happen. Jesus had promised to meet him again in Galilee after his resurrection. So Peter went there and met Jesus. Jesus cooked a delicious breakfast for him and said to him three times, “Do you love me?” “Feed my sheep.” The Risen Christ restored Peter, healing his fear with the love of God. After that Peter was changed. He became a courageous preacher of the gospel, even to the Jewish religious leaders. He became a sacrificial shepherd who gave his life for the flock of God. He became a source of great spiritual encouragement to the early church in the time of fierce persecution. God used him as a good shepherd to Mark who also experienced failure. In the end, Jesus made Peter the rock and used him greatly for his world salvation purpose. Each disciple has his own story. But the essential truth for each is that Jesus changed them into a powerful gospel messenger. Jesus still calls and uses a handful of ordinary men to change the world with the gospel.

Look at verse 20. “Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.” Jesus served the needy with all his heart. The disciples were helping and they suffered along with Jesus, having no time to eat. Jesus’ family members thought he was out of his mind. They went to take charge of him. Look at verse 22. “And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.’” These men were supposed to be the teachers of the law and know God. But in truth they were jealous of Jesus. So they called Jesus demon possessed. It was a effort to destroy Jesus and his ministry. When we make a decision to follow Jesus, there will naturally arise an opposition led by Satan.

Look at verses 23-27. “So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: ‘How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.’” Jesus pointed out that it would be completely illogical and irrational for Satan to oppose himself. Only a stronger power could subdue him. Jesus was the stronger power.

Look at verses 28-30. “‘I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.’ He said this because they were saying, ‘He has an evil spirit.’” When people say the Holy Spirit is a demon, they completely lose discernment between good and evil. They become too hardhearted to repent. They are destined to go to hell with the evil spirits forever.

While Jesus was teaching the people around him, his mother and brothers arrived and stood outside the door. They did not go in, but sent someone in to call Jesus. But Jesus did not move. Jesus said, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Then, looking at those seated around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’” Jesus had lived for 30 years as a good son and a good brother. But when his messianic ministry began, he put his mission first, before family fellowship. Jesus was not anti-family, or hostile to his family members. But Jesus set a clear priority to carry out his mission first. The best way to help his family was to carry out his mission to the end.

Jesus loved his disciples as spiritual family members. They put God first in their lives. They left everything behind to follow Jesus. Jesus honored their decisions and loved them dearly. Those who obey God’s will are all spiritual family members. We love and honor those who obey God’s will. Sometimes those who leave everything to follow Jesus feel lonely, missing their natural family members. However, we enter into a new family in Christ, a family of everlasting love that spans the globe and reaches down through the ages.

Today we mainly thought about Jesus’ calling the twelve. Jesus’ calling is his grace given to ordinary people for God’s purpose. Jesus calls us to “be with him.” Through this Jesus changes us into holy children of God and powerful gospel workers. Jesus can use a handful of ordinary men and women to revive the spiritual life in our nation once again. May God help us to hear his call and make us one of his few good men.

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Daily Bread

Every Firstborn Son in Egypt Will Die

Exodus 11:1-10

Key Verse: 11:5

and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle.

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