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THE CHOOSING OF THE TWELVE
Intro: This is a special passage. The ministry of Jesus is in full swing. The common people of the area follow Jesus because He preaches the Word of God in power and because He is working miracles for the glory of God. The religious leaders hate Jesus because He refuses to play by their rules and because He exposes them for the hypocrites they are. Our Lord’s days are filled with ministry and things are happening at a hectic pace.
These verses find Jesus taking some time out of His frantic schedule. He takes the time to commune with His Father and to choose the twelve men who will be His representatives to the lost sheep of Israel.
I said this passage was special and it is because it reminds us that anyone who will follow the Lord can be used by the Lord. As we look at the kind of men Jesus chose and used in those days it gives us hope in these days. If Jesus can use men like these in the manner that He did, then surely He can use you and me in these days. If you are saved, I want you to know that you have a place in the Lord’s service.
Let’s look into these verses and observe the blessings revealed here as we consider the subject of The Choosing Of The Twelve.
I. v. 13 THE MASTER
(Ill. In this first verse of our text, the focus is on the Lord Jesus Christ. He has stepped aside from His public work for a time of solitude. He has left the crowds so that He might call His disciples. Let’s look in on the truths revealed here.)
A. A Time Of Special Communion Mark just tells us that Jesus goeth up into a mountain. Luke is a bit more specific. He tells us that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God, Luke 6:12. Jesus is about to ordain twelve men who will be His spokesmen, His representatives to the people of Israel. This is a big decision and Jesus wants to be sure that He knows the mind of the Father. Thus, He sought a private place and spent the night in prayer seeking His Father’s will.
(Ill. What a lesson for us! Jesus, God the Son, God in the flesh, felt the need to commune with God the Father before He made a big decision. Jesus took time out of His busy schedule to spend a protracted time in prayer. Jesus saw the great need of reaching up to the Father for the help He needed day by day.
The fact that Jesus made prayer a priority in His life highlights our own need to seek the Lord in prayer. We are not God in the flesh. We are not the Savior and Redeemer of humanity. We are just a group of people that should have been sent to Hell. But, God in His great grace and mercy reached out to us and saved us from our sins. He brought us into His family and gave unto us the privilege of prayer. Just a brief glimpse at prayer and the promises attached to it is enough to showcase its importance in our lives.
· God has promised to hear our prayers – Jer. 33:3; Isa. 65:24.
· God has promised to answer our prayers – Matt. 7:7-8; John 16:23.
· God uses our prayers to accomplish His will in the world – James 5:16-18.
· God knows what you are going to ask before you ask it. Since that is true, some people have wondered about the need to pray. After all, God is only going to do what He pleases to do. Your prayers and mine change nothing! So why pray? Have you ever thought that the whole end of prayer might be prayer itself? Have you ever considered the truth that God commands us to pray because He longs for fellowship and communion with people like us? He desires for us to pray so that we might spend time in His presence. And time spent in His presence is well spent!
· Of course, the more time you spend with Him, the more you begin to think like Him. After a while, you only ask for those things that you know will glorify Him. Thus, communion with God brings closeness to God and that is His primary desire for your life. (Ill. Micah 6:8, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
· Let me just encourage you to be a man or woman of prayer! Seek the Lord and seek Him often. Nothing will develop your life anymore than prayer.
B. A Time Of Sovereign Choice There had been great multitudes following Jesus as He moved from place to place and ministered. Now, He chooses twelve men from among those vast multitudes to be His disciples. He had already called them to follow Him. We saw that with Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew. Now, He calls them to a special place of service.
Matthew 10:2 tells us that these men were set aside and were called “apostles. This world speaks of One sent with orders. It refers to a representative of the king; one who speaks with the king’s authority; one who must not be ignored. Jesus handpicked these twelve men and sent them out with His message.
Why did He call these men and not other men? Why were these singled out for this great honor? Was it something they possessed that other men lacked? Were they especially spiritual and close to the Lord? Did He know that they would make great preachers?
The Bible says “He called unto Him whom He would. There was nothing special in these men. As we will see in a minute, they were common men with common deficiencies and common problems. So, why did He call them? Because He wanted to! It was sovereign choice that He made based on His Own Will.
(Ill. May I just say that it is a privilege to be chosen by Him! you will notice that when He called, they came! That is how this thing works!
· First, He called me to come to Him for salvation. His call would not go away and it would not be denied. When I came to Him by faith and asked Him to save me, He did just that. Praise His name, He came into my life and changed it completely and made me a new creature, Eph. 2:1-10; 2 Cor. 5:17. I didn’t deserve even that, but He gave me more!
· Then, He came calling me to preach His Word. Again, His call came and it would not go away! What an honor it is to be called to handle the Word of God! It is a privilege to be one of His preachers!
· You might not be a preacher, but He has called you to serve Him too! In fact, He calls every person He saves into His service, Eph. 2:10; James 2:18. When He saved you, He gifted you and gave a place in the body of Christ, 1 Cor. 12:7-26. I encourage you to seek His face, find your gifts and get busy for Jesus!
· Ill. Jesus could have chosen a thousand different ways to get His work done on the earth. He could have used angels. He could have done it Himself. He could have created a special race of people to do it. Wait! That’s just what He did! He saved us out of our sins and created us as a special race to do His will on the earth!
· He chose you! Get busy and serve Him. His call will not go away, Rom. 11:29.
II. v. 14-15 THE MISSION
(Ill. These two verses tell us what the Lord expected these twelve men to do. These two verses establish a pattern of ministry that continues to this day. These verses also reveal a priority in ministry that we must not ignore.)
A. Involved Discipleship that they should be with Him This phrase highlights every disciples first priority: being with Jesus.
The Lord called these men to follow Him in a relationship of personal fellowship. He wanted to teach them His ways, and that required closeness. He wanted them to learn from Him and that required closeness. He wanted to train them by personal example, and that required closeness. Most of all, He wanted them just to be with Him because He loved them, and He desired their fellowship!
Being with Jesus should be the first priority in each of our lives. If we would be like Him, then we must spend time with Him. If we would serve Him like He desires, then we must spend time with Him.
There is nothing as important in your life as time spent with Jesus! The time you spend with Him in the closet of prayer is worth more than all the gold in the world. The time spent feeding in the green pastures of His Word is worth more than all the diamonds in the world. The time spent in His presence as you walk through your day is more valuable than all the wealth of the universe. Nothing compares to being with Him!
(Ill. We are as close to Him as we want to be! He has promised us that we can get as close as we like, James 4:8. I would like to be as close as John the Beloved was at the last supper, John 13.
He was close enough to hear the heartbeat of the Savior; to feel His breath on His hair; to hear His still, small voice and He revealed divine secrets. Intimacy on that level is available to all those who desire it.
Here is His promise to us: “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart, Jer. 29:13. You can be as close to the Lord as you desire! Stop holding back and get close to Jesus.
B. Involved Declaration Jesus called these men to go forth to preach. The word preach means to act as a herald; to sound forth the message of the King. Jesus handpicked these men and called them to take His message to the nation of Israel. What was the message they were to preach? It was the same message that Jesus Himself had been preaching. It was the Gospel of the Kingdom.
It was the good news that God had sent His Son into the world to be their Savior of sinners. It was a message of hope, peace and blessing. The disciples were to take this message to the people and call them to come to Jesus. What a great and high calling they received!
(Ill. We all know that not everyone is called to be a preacher. In fact, some of the people who claim to be preachers have never been called of God to that position. Some have called themselves. Others have been called by mom, dad, grandma or grandpa. Others have been called by the church.
You can tell when God calls a man. When God calls a preacher three things will be true: 1.) God will use that man by opening doors for him to preach; 2.) God will speak through the preacher to feed His sheep; 3.) God will make the preacher fruitful by saving souls under his preaching. That’s how you will know.
Now, while God only calls some to be preachers; He calls all His children to be witnesses! When He saved you, He placed His Spirit within you. When the Spirit came in, He gave you a testimony share and a commission to share it, Acts 1:8. So, while you may never stand in a pulpit and preach a sermon, you can still preach the Gospel everywhere you go to every creature you encounter, Mark 16:15. Jesus still wants His disciples to declare His message!)
C. Involved Demonstration The preaching ministry of these men was to be accompanied by miracles. They were given the power to heal the sick and to cast out devils. These were sign gifts. They were given this power to validate their ministry to the people they preached to. The people knew that Jesus was a Healer and that He had power over demonic spirits. When the disciples came preaching and demonstrating that same power, the people knew that their message was real and that they were truly the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Ill. In our day, we do not have those same signs following our ministries any longer. Oh, some people on TV and elsewhere claim to be able to heal and such, but they are charlatans and liars! If they can heal let them follow the New Testament model and heal whoever they meet that needs healing like Jesus and the disciples did, Ill. John 5:1-10; Acts 3:1-9.
We do not need the sign gifts to validate our message. Why? The sign gifts were designed to speak to the Jewish people to let them know that their Messiah had come, 1 Cor. 14:22. Today, our message is validated by the lives Jesus changes by His grace.
Every time He saves a soul and delivers a sinner from the grip of his or her sins, He is validating His message. Every time and alcoholic or drug addict is set free, He validates His message. Every time a marriage is put back together He validates His message. Every time a redeemed saint of God can stand and give testimony to the live-changing, soul-saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ He validates His message!
I am saying that we are seeing greater miracles today than the disciples were able to perform! Every time these doors open; every morning when we rise; every day that we live is a powerful demonstration of the power and presence of our God!)
III. v. 16-19 THE MEN
(Ill. These last verses tell us the names of the men Jesus chose to be His disciples. In reality, each of these men deserves a separate sermon, but time will not allow for that right now. Today, we will content ourselves with just gleaning the barest of facts about them.)
A. Their Names We will move through this list of names and learn a little about each of the disciples.
· Simon This is his Hebrew name. It means a rock or stone. Jesus changes his name to Peter. This is a Greek name and it also means rock or stone. Peter was the leader of the group. He was a fisherman with a family. He was outspoken and opinionated. He failed the Lord in a very public manner, but he humbled himself and was restored. He was used of the Lord is a mighty way in the early church.
· James He was a fisherman. He was a member of the Lords inner circle. James, Peter and John were singled out for a special time of ministry three times: when the daughter of Jairus was raised from the dead; when Jesus was transfigured; and when Jesus went a little farther into Gethsemane to pray. James was a great leader in the early church, serving as its first Pastor. He was the first of the Apostles to be put to death for his faith in the Lord.
· John He was the brother of James, also a member of that inner circle. John was known as the Beloved Disciple. He was a mighty influence in the early church, writing five books of the New Testament. John was the only Apostle not put to death for his faith, but he was persecuted, imprisoned and banished to a desert island.
These two brothers were nicknamed “Boanerges by the Lord Jesus. This name means the sons of thunder. This name fits because they had violent tempers, even wanting to pray down fire on a village that refused to receive the Lord Jesus, Luke 9:52-56. They also had a little bit of selfish ambition because they asked Jesus for a place of special prominence in the Kingdom, Mark 10:35-40.
· Andrew He was the brother of Peter. He had been a fisherman before he came to Christ and every time he appears in the Gospel record, he is bringing someone to Jesus. Andrew was a powerful witness for the Lord Who saved him.
· Philip Not much is known about Philip. Jesus calls him in John 1:43. Immediately Philip goes to tell Nathaniel (Bartholomew) about Jesus, John 1:44-45.
· Bartholomew He is also known as Nathaniel. He seems to have been a man with some issues with prejudice, John 1:45-46. He was also a man of honesty and deep religious conviction, John 1:47.
· Matthew Matthew was a Jew named Levi. He had been a tax collector for Rome. He was a controversial choice and was no doubt despised by many of the people, Mark 2:14. But, the Lord called him, saved him and changed his life. Matthew would write the Gospel that bears his name.
· Thomas This man is sometimes condemned as a doubter. We do know that he was loyal to Jesus, even to the point of being willing to die with Him, John 11:16. He was the only disciple not cowering in fear in the upper room on the day Jesus rose from the dead, John 20:25. He was a doubter of the unseen, but he was willing to accept the truth when it was revealed to him, John 20:28.
· James the son of Alphaeus Nothing is known about this man. We do know that his mother was at the cross when Jesus was crucified, John 19:25.
· Thaddaeus Nothing is known about this disciple.
· Simon the Canaanite The word Canaanite translates as word that means zealous. Simon was a revolutionary. He was a Jew sworn to the over throw of the Roman government. He was probably idealistic, proud, radical, outspoken, fiery and fearless.
· Judas Iscariot Judas was the only disciple to come from Judea. He was the treasurer of the group, but he was a thief and a miser, John 12:5-6. Judas was never truly saved and would eventually betray Jesus into the hands of the Jews for thirty pieces of silver, Matt. 26:7-15. He died lost and went to Hell.
Now, some wonder why Jesus chose a man like Judas. The answer to that question is not totally clear. However, Judas had a role to play and he played it perfectly. His sin, his hypocrisy and his betrayal were all a part of God’s redemptive plan.
Judas does teach us a valuable lesson. He teaches us that it is possible to look saved and act saved and not be saved at all. It is possible to be deceived in your salvation. That is why you need to heed the words of the Bible and “make your calling and election sure, 2 Pet. 1:10.
B. Their Natures I said at the outset that these men give us hope today. The fact that Jesus was able to use these men with all their weaknesses and failures lets me know that He can use me too.
These men lacked spiritual understanding. They lacked humility. They lacked faith. They lacked commitment. They lacked power. These men were always getting into trouble; missing the point or Christ’s teachings; lashing out at people who were different; saying the wrong thing; walking away from their commitment to Jesus; among other failures and problems.
In spite of their weaknesses, the Lord used these men to turn the world upside down for His glory. If He can use them, surely He can use us too! That gives me hope today!
Jesus led them patiently along, filled them with His Spirit and shocked the world with the way He used these men. I am convinced that He can and will use us, if we will place the clay of our lives in His hand and let Him have His way in us for His glory.
Conc: Jesus took twelve ordinary men, saved eleven of them by His grace and made something special out of their lives. He wants to do the same thing in you and me!
If you have never trusted Jesus as your Savior, you need to know that there is a place called Hell. If you die without Jesus you will go there, but it does not have to be that way. If you will come to Jesus, confess you sins and receive Him into your heart, He will save you and prepare you for Heaven. He will make you a disciple.
If you are saved, wouldn’t you like to be used of the Lord in a greater fashion? I challenge you to bring your life to Jesus, place it in His hands and ask Him to take you and make a disciple out of you for His glory. If He can use the likes of these twelve men, then surely He can use you.
If He has spoken to your heart, this altar is open. You come as He calls.