Now at this time Jesus went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. When day came, He called His disciples and selected twelve of them, whom He also named apostles (special messengers, personally chosen representatives): Simon, whom He also named Peter, and his brother Andrew; and [the brothers] James and John; and Philip, and Bartholomew [also called Nathanael]; and Matthew (Levi, the tax collector) and Thomas; and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; Judas [also called Thaddaeus] the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor [to the Lord]. [Luke 6:12-16 (AMP)]
We know Jesus prayed all night before choosing His inner circle. He had plenty of other followers; what made Him choose those twelve men? I can understand Andrew and John; they’d been followers of John the Baptist and were primed for the arrival of the Messiah. As for John’s brother James—the brothers were known as the “Sons of Thunder,” probably because they were passionate, impetuous, and quick to anger. Why James and not someone calm and even-tempered? For that matter, why fishermen? What special skills did they bring with them? You don’t have to know how to cast a net to go fishing for people! What about Simon the zealot? Zealots were agitators who wanted to overthrow the Roman government. Did Jesus need a radical activist in His entourage? Along with the rebellious zealot, Jesus chose Matthew, a shady collaborator. As a tax man, he may have smelled better than the fishermen but he carried the odor of corruption. The publican who was forbidden to testify in court was called to testify for Christ! While Matthew’s integrity may have been questionable, Jesus’ choice of Bartholomew (also called Nathanael) made more sense; Jesus called him “a man of integrity” when they first met. Since no mention is made of the other men’s backgrounds, we can only assume that they, too, were quite ordinary.
Why did Jesus call this odd assortment of men to be his apostles? As far as we know, none were theologians or scholars and, other than Matthew’s record keeping skills, it’s hard to see anything special they brought to the table. Why these nobodies rather than someone noteworthy or well-known? Why did Jesus choose these men to be the core of the new church?
Twelve men, remarkably unexceptional—twelve men just like you and me. Jesus wasn’t looking for accomplishments; He was looking for possibility. He didn’t care who they’d been or what they’d done in the past; what mattered was who they could become and what they could do in the future. Jesus provided them with all they needed to become the people they needed to be.
They didn’t have funding, organization, church buildings, choir, websites, apps, hymnals, or even the New Testament and yet, that first Pentecost, the remaining eleven and Matthias (who replaced Judas) brought 3,000 into the new church through the power of the Holy Spirit. Twelve ordinary men accomplished the extraordinary through the power of the Holy Spirit. Just think what we could do if only we would try!
Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.” [Matthew 28:18-20 (AMP)]
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