When one encounters new circumstances, one can wedge those new circumstances into an already existing understanding of the world, or one can change that understanding to accommodate the new circumstances. Therein lies the fundamental difference between those who did not believe Jesus and those who did. The Pharisees – and others who disbelieved – never strayed from their insistence that the world is as they say it is. Jesus’s own family started in this frame of mind. Their reasoning regarding the difficulties and controversies Jesus found himself in shows a family trying to fit what they see into what they know. What they come to realize, though, is that it doesn’t fit. They will have to live with that incongruity, or change their minds. The Bible records the family’s gradually allowing what they see lead them to know something new.
If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. Vs. 25
Much can be made of verse 24 in relation to today’s volatile political climate. Most of us, however, are content to rail against the current dysfunction and throw our hands in the air since we have little power over the outcome. Jesus was so keen that he did not leave that analogy at that level. He immediately brought it to a place that should reach each one of us. What is the condition of your home and family? Are you working in the very place that you can have influence to make sure that there is a zeal for the things of the Lord? Let’s start there, and see where the Lord takes it.
When you hear the words “mountain top experience” as it pertains to a physical mountain, what comes to your mind? Do you think of a great view? Do you think of the feeling of accomplishment of reaching the top? Do you think of the hard work that it took to get there?
Jesus often went up the mountain with His disciples. Why? Was it just to get away or was it more? Being on top of a mountain gives you a new found perspective. It causes you to look up and see where you are going. It causes you to look back and see where you came from. It causes you to look out and see a beauty that is not visible from the ground, only from above.
Jesus shows us that when we encounter Him, we have a mountain top experience. We are given new perspective from above!
Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth.”
The wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Revelation 21:14
While these were normal men, in fact they wouldn’t have won any popularity contests, they hold a significant place in salvation history. These men were appointed Apostles, with a capital “A.” They became the benchmark of God’s revelation through Jesus, and the forefathers of the church. There have been none like them since, nor will there be.
They became the immediate messianic community, representative of the twelve tribes of Israel. A sign to the world of God’s promise through Jesus, delivered through the Holy Spirit’s direct revelation. Most of us, in fact, can trace our spiritual lineage to one of these Apostles (I imagine others can be traced to close followers of Jesus at the time, even though they weren’t appointed in the same manner).
They became missionaries, preachers, and disciple makers, traversing the known world, repeating a pattern that began in Mark 3-disciples appointing disciples.
We will see their names one day written on foundation stones of the New Jerusalem. Until then we are to be torch bears of the same light, carrying with us the same redeeming and historic revelation they were appointed to deliver to the world so long ago.
“And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons.”
It’s a new paradigm. Jesus has embraced a different strategy for growing His kingdom. He has gone from discipleship to disciple-making. He did exhort and challenge people to “take up their cross daily, and follow Me”- discipleship. But now He is expanding the scope of His ministry and focus. The goal is relationship AND multiplication. Paul echos the same purpose, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also”. There it is. Certainly the gospel is being taught/shared. But now the goal is deeper and longer. Believers who are compelled and capable of leading others to become believers who can then lead others to become believers who are compelled and capable… – multiplication. Our time with the Lord AND our time investing in others who can then learn, lead, serve, and share is Disciple-making. An even greater perspective and privilege for growing God’s kingdom.
Our passage this week presents a very important period in the life of Christ…the calling of the twelve. These men would be tasked with spreading the gospel throughout the world. Jesus invested His entire public ministry time into these men. They were given great gifts…much was expected of them. When others fell away, they stood firm. Following the ascension of Christ, all eleven remaining disciples were still present.
Four of the men on this list are almost anonymous…we know little or nothing about them. Their mention here in this list of the called is the totality of our knowledge of them. They had no pedigree…they sought no recognition…they demonstrated no great insight or leadership…they disappeared almost without a trace.
These men were Jesus’ disciples. They were faithful to the end…they accomplished what they were called to do. No fanfare, just obedience! Many of us are called just as they were. No fame, no recognition, no high profile responsibility…just simple obedience to share the gospel. God is glorified by our obedience!
“And he appointed twelve, so that they would be with him and that he could send them out to preach.”
When God reveals himself, he does so through human beings. We’re frequently looking for revelation in some other form, though. We want a sign, a miracle, or a special effect to erase our doubts and calm our fears. In short, we want God to validate us. Then we’ll know he’s for us. Then we’ll know we’re safe. But here’s the punchline: God’s self-revelation through human beings is itself a validation of human beings. The Incarnation is the most glorious validation of all, followed by the sending of ordinary men and women to proclaim the truth: The Twelve, Mary Magdalene, Paul, et al. God tells you all you need to know about your worth when someone just like you speaks to you about God.
And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. vs. 13
He wanted them. I’m not sure this can be overstated: Jesus wanted to be around these men. You’ve heard about how God has consistently used flawed people to build his Kingdom, but have you considered the tedious nature of our rebellion? It’s one thing for flawed people to make good choices when it counts, but quite another to know these less desirable personality traits are a daily reality. Knowing that, he wanted them. Friend, Jesus wants you. This shouldn’t surprise you, but I hope that you will consider the fact that he can redeem even those rough parts, or use them for his glory. He wants you to be near him.