Jesus Calls the Twelve
By Moses Marji
Mark 3: 7-19
Key Verses 3: 14,15
“He appointed twelve designating them apostles that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons”
I thank God that me and my family were able to come back to our home church at Triton UBF and worship together with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is encouraging to hear what faith can do in our lives. Faith can direct our lives in the right direction, and lead us to make the right decisions before God. It was refreshing to hear Pastor Teddy’s message last week. Today we will study from chapter 3 in the book of Mark. Let’s discover together the hidden treasures in this chapter.
If we look at Jesus’ ministry through the book of Mark from the first Chapter until this point, we realize that Jesus took every opportunity to break every Jewish religious tradition that is empty and a burden on the people; from the way they viewed the Sabbath, fasting, disciples eating grains in the field to inviting tax collector and eating at his house. The Pharisees were very furious with Jesus since he did not follow their tradition and rather expose their hypocrisy through these traditions. Early in this chapter Jesus was healing a man with a shriveled hand in the Sabbath which was considered amongst the religious leaders not lawful and against their known traditions. They couldn’t confront Jesus because of their hypocrisy, so they simply plot to kill him.
Our study today starts from Chapter 3, let’s read verse 7 & 8 together “Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea , and regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon” We need to know here that Jesus did not withdraw to the lake because he feared the religious leaders, he knows that his time did not come yet. This was a strategic plan so that he can talk to the large crowd. Now this crowd came from all areas in Judea and around Judea from even the Gentile territories. Most likely the main reason that most people came for was because of what they heard concerning Jesus’ healing ministry and casting out demons. They had a certain benefit to be there. Now a days we still have this kind of crowd. We have the church goers who wanted to feel close to Jesus and benefit emotionally but don’t practice the word of God in their lives the rest of the week. This crowd was in Jesus’ times and in each generation until our generation now. From a boat that was prepared for him, Jesus served the crowd who came to meet him. He healed many and what is interesting how the evil spirits recognized Jesus even before Man.
Look at verse 11 “Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God”. But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was” Jesus was driving out these demons, but these demons recognized Jesus as the son of God. Jesus did not come to save demons, he came to save Man. But demons recognized Jesus as the son of God and Man did not especially the religious leaders, how ironic is that! This reveals how much the religious leaders were so blind in their own way and their own traditions to the point that they did not recognized that Jesus is the Son of God. And this is exactly why Jesus wanted different type of people to be his disciples which leads us to the second part of this message,
The appointment of the Twelve Apostles
Let’s read verse 13 together “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him” We realize that the crowd that came to Jesus by the lake was a huge crowd. The crowd that comes to Jesus in the churches now a days is a huge crowd as well. Yes Jesus will serve that crowd, but Jesus’ most interest is to raise disciples and true followers. Jesus called whom he wanted “those who have the heart and desire to follow Jesus” out of the crowd to go to the mountainside. Now we need to really check our hearts and ask ourselves “Do I want to stay among the crowd? Am I ready to go up to the mountain and truly follow Jesus? If a person is still in that gray area where he or she comes to Jesus only when it suites them, they need to check their hearts and lives before God. And when following Jesus becomes difficult and requires sacrifice they disappear; then take note that Jesus will not count this kind of Christianity. It is a very shallow Christianity that will not stand the test when time comes. Jesus chose whom he wanted, because he knew the hearts of these men.
Look at our Key verses for today 14 & 15 “He appointed twelve designating them apostles that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons”
There are many true followers who came to the mountainside with Jesus, among these followers Jesus appointed twelve designating them apostles. Jesus’ interest was to raise faithful followers who will carry salvation message to the whole world. Jesus called these twelve whom he chose “apostles” which means sent. These men left the crowd and were ready to serve the mission they were designated for. Again pause for a little time and ask yourself “Did I accept Jesus’ mission for me or am I still hanging with the crowd with undecided heart?” I remember a point in my life when I wanted to stay among the crowd and take what suites me from the bible and leave the rest that requires sacrifice. I cried, I couldn’t sleep, I wondered what my life worth was without Jesus. I struggled so much to make this decision. But at the end I realized that the right decision is to be with Jesus. When these men followed Jesus on the mountainside, they knew that this is life commitment they are making, and they knew to do so, they needed to forget the way they were carrying their lives all along and start a new life with Jesus. No one who is truthful will tell you that life following Jesus is easy. No it is not easy. But I can tell you for sure that life with Jesus is a life and filled my heart with peace despite all the troubles and hardships that we might go through because of the word of God.
When I was meditating on this passage, I asked myself this question “If Jesus came today, where he would choose his disciples from” Would Jesus go to the most popular churches of love and prosperity and choose his disciples. Or would Jesus go to the theological schools to choose his disciples. Would Jesus go the most intellectual people and choose his disciples. And would Jesus go to those who are very popular and visit the white house with religious umbrellas and political ambitions to choose his disciples. All these kind of people were there during Jesus’ time and they are still there in our generation. But how did Jesus choose his disciples.
Let’s look at verses 16 -19 “There 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, Thadaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.” Let’s look at the list of names and the kind of people Jesus chose to be his apostles and decide by yourself if you have a chance to become an apostle of Jesus for this generation or not.
From what we know about Simon in the bible, we realize that Simon was the most emotional man in the bible. He reacted based on his emotions. He always wanted to do great things, and always challenge to do great things based on his emotions, but at the end he end up failing because he depended on his own strength. His spiritual journey with Jesus while Jesus was on earth was full of these kinds of moments to the point he promised Jesus that if everyone abandoned Jesus he will not. But he end up denying Jesus when the time of testing came. But when Jesus chose him to be among the twelve, he gave him the name “Peter” which means the rock. Wow, how come giving an emotionally unstable man the name rock, what a contradiction. This is far from his character. But later after Jesus’ resurrection and Peter again overcoming his despair over his failures, he became a true rock for the church; he became the rock on which the church was built. What a beautiful testimony to change from an emotionally unstable man to a rock where the church is built on.
James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, from the nickname they were given “The sons of Thunder” it is clear that they had hot temper and quick to anger when something that they don’t like happens. We know that John was one of John the Baptist disciples, later John became one of the most patient men and took issues based on much prayer instead of his anger bursts. Who else Jesus chose; Jesus chose Matthew, the tax collector, a public sinner in the eyes of the religious institution at the time. Imagine if Jesus is in our generation and choose a night club manager to become one of the apostles. But Mathew was not ashamed to disclose the grace of Jesus is his life. In fact he was happy to tell about Jesus he reached Egypt and beyond later in his life. So for those who say that they are ashamed to disclose that they are Christians to their friends and they never did, it means that they still did not experience the grace of Jesus in their lives personally. They need to come to Jesus to pour his grace upon them. Again Jesus chose a doubter in Thomas and an intellectual calculator in Philip, what is interesting about Philip is that he was calculating everything to see if it makes sense and logic or not, but later in his life, he was like a moving airplane, the spirit used to move him in an instant from one place to another, and how would he calculate that one, how many miles per hour he was flying. Then Jesus chose a betrayer in Judas Iscariot. These are few examples of what Kind of people Jesus chose to be his apostles to the world.
Now, does anyone in this place still thinks that he or she are not good enough to be apostles of Jesus for this generation. Ask yourself again “What is holding me from becoming an apostle of Jesus?” For me personally, when I was struggling to commit my life to Jesus, what was holding me is this, I was studying the bible and I was discussing and arguing with my shepherd but intellectually like a Sadducee. But deep in my heart I was thinking about three issues that hindered me from committing truly to Jesus’ ministry. You see, I was an ambitious man, growing up I was the first in my class at all times. I represented my schools from primary to high school in all competitions. I had straight A’s. There were many students from different grades who knew me by name but I did not know them. When I entered university, the study was credit hours system, and zoom it took me only three years to finish my Bachelor degree. I had the respect of those who were around me including my relatives, neighbors and my extended family. My family not just my parents, but my entire clan truly were thinking that one day I will be a minister in the government and carry a high position. In my secondary school I was called by some of my classmate parents to teach their children math for 10 USD per hour, I was only 14 years old. So imagine how much pride I had inside me. Pride and ambitious hopes were the titles on my forehead. Now you know why my spiritual name is Moses. The most humble Man. I had dreams and pride, deadly combination. I thought if I commit my life to Jesus I will have to abandon all my dreams. Little I knew that Jesus will provide what I needed. The other major obstacle that prevented me from committing my life to Jesus while I was studying the bible was my fears. I really feared suffering. In fact I did not want to suffer and I wanted to have a simple comfortable life. So God really took care of that and I suffered well enough in my daily life. Life is full of suffering and struggles, but let us struggle for the good reason. And God really trained me to suffer. While I was studying the bible for the first two years my life was very mysterious to many people in our chapter here at Triton to the point people were wondering who is this man. Because of my pride I did not ask anyone for help and I always depended on myself, notice not on Jesus but on myself to get things done. I worked 60 to 80 hours a week to finish my school studies and at the same time I studies and paid for my school fees without any help from anyone. To most people, this is very admirable and commendable to be self dependant hard working man who builds his own future. But I knew that I was rotten from inside and this was nothing without Jesus. So I feared suffering, but God brought me my own struggles and suffering in my daily life. God as well trained me so many times to overcome my pride. I was in charge of cleaning the toilet every Saturday at the bible house. I was chosen to play a jaz crazy singer in a play for Easter where I have to move my body like crazy like never before. I had no choice but to accept the role. It was the most entertaining view for the whole audience in that conference but not for me. Oh boy, God really trained me to be humble like Moses. But at that time I still had these issues in my heart until I was so tired of having one foot in with Jesus and one foot out in the world in this difficult gray area. After work and classes, I came back home at midnight, I poured out my heart to Jesus to help me overcome so that I can commit my life to him, I struggled all night with prayer and crying to God to help me, until Jesus responded and a sensational experience over my whole body came, while I received so much peace in my heart, it was 5 hours later at 5 AM after so much struggle with God. I was a single overjoyed man. At 5 in the morning I called the bible house to tell my shepherd what Just happened to me and guess who answered the phone. Iris answered the phone because it was the girls night at the bible house, I did not know that she would be my wife few years later. I explained to my shepherd what happened to me and his answer was “I was waiting for this moment” My life was completely changed after this. I was ready to serve Jesus anytime anywhere. My view of the world and everything in it was completely transformed. I was able to see the beauty of everything around me and I started to see God’s image in everything around me.
What were the characters with which Jesus chose these apostles? What was the common denominator that gathered them all as a group? They all were willing to learn and ready to change their lives. Of course it will take a lot of training and years of failures and getting up again. They were all ready to repent their past lives and accept a new life created in Jesus. They were all like a tender shoot, like a sponge like a new wine skin ready to receive what Jesus pour to them. Are you like this, and if not please pray for Jesus to make you ready to accept him in your heart. Jesus will come to you and he will aid you. Then your life will be transformed with so much joy. Amen.
Let’s read our key verses one more time.