JESUS CALLS THE TWELVE APOSTLES

Mark 3:13-35

Key Verse: 3:13-14a

 “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....”

In the previous passage we learned that Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. He came into this world to save lives and set us free from the bondage of law. Jesus healed the sick and preached the gospel. But today he calls the twelve apostles. It was a turning point in his ministry. Jesus knew that the gospel work needed the gospel workers. In calling the twelve, Jesus prepared his future ministry to reach out to the whole world. He chose the twelve among the ordinary people and designated them apostles. His purpose was to send them out to preach the message of love and hope. He would train them to become powerful servants of God’s word with personal instructions. I pray that we may learn Jesus’ prayer for his apostles and become disciple-makers like Jesus.

PART I. THE APPOINTING OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES (13-19).

The focus of Jesus’ ministry is to raise up future leaders. Though Jesus served the crowds, his priority was to train the twelve apostles who became the core group in his inner circle. Look at verse 13. “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him.” Luke 6:12 says, “Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” Jesus prayed, “My Father, time is dark. What shall I do when the religious leaders neglect their sheep? Show me the way.” Through prayer, Jesus asked God’s direction to choose the twelve. Thus, their calling originated in God, not in themselves. 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. Here we learn that calling is God’s initiative not men’s choosing. We were called not because we were deserved but because God had mercy on us. No one chose to follow God with own initiative but each of us is called by God’s sovereign choice. Jeremiah 1:3 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart: I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” God called Jeremiah to a prophet to the nations before his birth. It was not his making but God’s making. So Jeremiah delivered only the message God gave it to him though the message was very unpopular. God’s calling is based on his sovereign choice, and God does not revoke his calling. God’s calling cannot be canceled because we feel uncomfortable or it is costly. Why? It is from God. Romans 11:29 says, “...for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”

Whom did Jesus call? “...those he wanted....” Jesus knew what kinds of people he wanted to be his future successors. Jesus did not call the upper class people like the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. Jesus called the ordinary blue-color workers with humble backgrounds. He called his apostles from the Galilee district which was known as the despised and oppressed. Jesus chose the new wineskin-type of people with learning mind to become his apostles. To human eyes, they may seem unqualified. But to Jesus, they were the best men. They were men of many mistakes but they were men of learning through their mistakes. Jesus was right in choosing them to become his apostles to change the world. They were transformed into new people. They obeyed Jesus’ teaching and preached the gospel message to the whole creation.

We have our own idealistic disciple candidates. But our type is different from Jesus’ type. To participate in Jesus’ ministry as disciple makers, we must recognize Jesus’ sovereignty. Jesus chooses whom he wants. The people Jesus chooses may not be the ones we want. But if Jesus has chosen them, we must learn to accept them. This is the first step in being a fruitful disciple maker.

How did they respond when Jesus called them? Verse 13 ends, “...and they came to him.” Those whom Jesus called came willingly. They did not make any excuses. Nobody said, “It is not me. Call someone else.” They just came. This is amazing. They did not ask what would be their salary or where they would stay. They simply came to him. This is evidence that God moved their hearts to accept Jesus’ call. God’s sovereign will compelled them to accept Jesus’ calling. There was irresistible grace in Jesus’ call. Their response indicates that their calling was based on divine plan in their lives.  

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....” From the beginning, Jesus designated them apostles. The word “apostle” means one who is sent. Jesus had a clear purpose to call his apostles. It was to send them out to preach the message of God’s salvation. Jesus wanted to use them as ambassadors of Jesus’ kingdom. Their spiritual influence would change the world and future generations. Jesus was sure that they would grow to be great apostles.

How did Jesus train them? He allowed them to “be with him.” Jesus invited the first two disciples saying, “Come and see.”  Seeing is believing. Staying together is the best way to learn. There is no training manual at that time. They had to know Jesus by being with him. This was the greatest privilege. Jesus is God. Jesus’ one touch could heal any kind of disease. Jesus’ one word could drive out demons and bring new life to the soul. Everyone wanted to be with Jesus. But Jesus gave a special privilege of being with him to the twelve appointed men. Jesus paid special attention to these twelve men.

What does it mean to “be with him”? To begin with, they followed Jesus everywhere. They were with Jesus at the house, in the fields, by the seashore, on the mountain, in the boat, on the road, in the synagogue, at the temple, and in the upper room. They were with Jesus in Nazareth, Capernaum, the Gerasenes, Caesarea Philippi, Jerusalem, Dalmanutha, and Gethsemane. They were with Jesus when he was traveling, preaching, teaching, driving out demons, healing the sick, calming storms, feeding crowds, eating and sleeping. The only times they were not with Jesus were when he was praying in private, and at the cross. Jesus taught them the word of God. Jesus taught them his mind and heart. Jesus engaged them in his ministry in various ways. They learned Jesus’ person and character, including his spiritual life. Being with Jesus sanctified their inner beings (Jn 15:3). For example, Matthew, a former tax collector, wrote the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus formed godly character in them to be his ambassadors on earth. If we want to know someone very personally, we should live with that person together at least for a month. Who knows Sarah Lee best? They are her house mates. Who knows Tommy best?  They are his house mates. Who knows me best? It is M. Esther Lee. Who knows Jesus best? They were his disciples. Their staying with Jesus opened their spiritual eyes and led them to know Jesus’ person very personally. Later, Peter confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:16) In the early ministry God used our common life together to learn the life of Jesus. God may raise up many spiritual leaders though our brother’s and sister’s prayer houses. I pray that God may open many common life houses to share the life of Jesus together. In a selfish and privacy-centered world it is unthinkable to open our house for others. But it is possible when we have faith in God. S David B. is fruit of common life together and S. Paul S. lived with my family. M. Wynelle N. lived with us too. M. Steve Haga lived in the prayer house too.

Jesus did not intend for his apostles to form a separated holy club. Jesus wanted to send them out to preach the gospel. Jesus wanted to use them as Bible teachers. Jesus wanted them to preach the message of repentance. 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. They needed to learn 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. Peter preached the word of God powerfully in Acts 2.  Peter’s spoken sermons are filled with encouragement about suffering. John’s gospel sermons are filled with God’s love.  Matthew’s Sermons are filled with God’s hope. How did they become such powerful servants of God’s words? They became servants of God because Jesus spent time with them. They learned from Jesus with humble learning minds. Jesus called us to preach the word of God. It is a great privilege to preach the word because it may bring salvation to many students. Missionaries came here to preach the word of God. God called us to preach the word of God through 1:1 Bible studies and messages. Purdue ISBC is the feast of God’s word. We will hear the powerful messages preached through many messengers.

Look at verse 15. “...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. When Jesus called his apostles, he did not equip them with worldly wealth but equipped them with spiritual authority. During their field work trip, they drove out many demons and anointed sick people with oil and healed them. (Mark 6:13)

Who are the twelve? 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 all were different in sizes and shapes and characters and tastes. They were unique in character. They represented all different kinds of people. One thing was common among them and 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.

The twelve apostles represent 12 tribes of Israel. Jesus envisioned that the twelve apostles would cover the whole human race. Simon means “sand” but Jesus changed him to become “Peter” which means “rock.” He was shaky in his character but later he became the foundation of Christian church. John was a man of temper as his nick name “Sons of Thunder” suggests. But later he became a disciple of love. Andrew was in the shadow of Peter but he was a man of simple faith bringing 5L and 2F which Jesus used to feed the five thousands. He was good in fishing because he brought Simon to Jesus. Philip was excellent in math. He was a man of calculations. But he later became a man of sacrifice. Thomas was a man of doubt but later he was a man of faith who went India and martyred for the sake of the gospel. He became a courageous man of faith with world mission vision. There are many Thomas in India. Jesus called revolutionary to be his disciples. Jesus called Matthew, a former tax collector, to be his apostle. Later, he added Paul to become his apostle to bring the Gentiles into Christian faith. Paul’s personal goal of life was to know Jesus personally through suffering and resurrection. 

PART II. JESUS IS STRONGER THAN SATAN (20-30).

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 fully engaged in watching and assisting. They must have felt like special people, though they were still young in their faith.  Anyway, they suffered 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 accredited teachers of the law from the best university in Israel. They carried the official decision of the “Jewish Religious Leaders’ Association.” But in truth they were jealous of Jesus. So they called Jesus demon possessed. It was a diabolical effort to destroy Jesus and his ministry.

Let’s read 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 man. Who is stronger than Satan?  Yes, Jesus is stronger. Who can rob Satan’s house? It is Jesus. Only Jesus can enter Satan’s house and tie up Satan and rescue people from the power of Satan. Later, Jesus’ apostles drove out demons in the name of Jesus. The demons are afraid of Jesus’ name. In the name of Jesus they flee.

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.

PART III. JESUS’ TRUE FAMILY (31-34)

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. Perhaps they wanted to take Jesus so that he could eat fully.   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.

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 regardless of any human differences. We love and honor those who obey God’s will. Recently, Missionary Allison was sick and went surgery. She needed fund to cover medical expenses. Many people sent checks to pay the bills. It was more than she needed. 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. We share the suffering together as we share the glory of God together. In a sense we are extended family of God. Jesus said in Mark 10:29-30, “No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields-and with them persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.” We Christians are a big Christian family with Jesus as our head. We belong to Jesus’ family. When we follow Jesus, our human family persecute us because they don’t know what we are doing. But we need to be patient with them and show our changed life and our love for them also. Then they will accept our new relationship with Jesus. When I went to Korea for John’s wedding, so many UBF members came to celebrate this joyful wedding because they regarded John as their brother and son. I have so many brothers and sisters in Christ. When I returned, so many sisters in Christ served me like a king bringing food daily. We are community of love and we must share the love of Christ in our journey of faith. Then God will make us to become strong family of Jesus to serve his will for campus and world mission.  

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.” Jesus changes us into holy children of God and powerful gospel workers. Jesus can use a handful of ordinary men to revive the spiritual life in our nation once again. Let’s read the key verse 13-14.