JESUS CHOOSES THE TWELVE AND DESIGNATES THEM APOSTLES
Key Verse 6:13
“When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles.”
Good morning and welcome to Sunday worship service. Thank God for giving us this New Year! At the end of last year, we heard several Christmas messages and were reminded that Jesus was born in a manger to be God’s wonderful sign and good news for all people. In the New Year’s message, P. Jacob spoke about the day of the Lord, and encouraged us to live holy and godly lives in view of the coming day of judgement. May God help us prepare our hearts through the word of God and be awakened to God, and grow in God as His faithful servants in 2017. As we return to Luke’s Gospel we want to continue thinking about Jesus’ disciple making ministry. In today’s passage, Jesus chose 12 disciples and designated them as apostle. He then begins to teach them kingdom lifestyle. May God bless us to learn from Jesus disciple making life and kingdom priorities.
Part 1. Jesus Chooses 12 Apostles through intense all night prayer (12-16)
Look at verse 12. One of those days, Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
One of those days…what does Luke mean by one of those days? At that time, Jesus was facing increasing hostility from the religious leaders who were enraged that Jesus broke their human traditions by healing a man on the Sabbath day. Because of this, they planned to get rid of Jesus (6:11). Jesus knew what is coming and he had given his disciples a hint of what is to happen in Luke chapter 5:35 when he said “But a time will come when the bride groom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”
Recognizing he had a short time, Jesus felt the urgency to raise successors for his gospel ministry, so He went up a mountainside and spent the night praying to God. Have you ever prayed all night to resolve an important issue before? Jesus had to choosing 12 leaders from among His many disciples. These are the men through whom God will change the world. What will you do if you are given the responsibility to choose 12 people through whom God will change world history?
Choosing a leader is not a small matter. Let us see how Jesus proceeded at this important moment? One of those days, Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. Jesus went out to a mountainside and spent the night praying to God for guidance. As Omnipotent God, Jesus could have simply chosen those He wanted but instead Jesus engaged in intense spiritual struggle until he was in perfect alignment with the will of the Father.
Although Jesus is God. He could control the winds and the wave. Demons and sicknesses were no match for Him, yet we see Jesus dependent on the Father that he prayed all night in order to choose the 12 apostles. Here we see that discipleship ministry thrives on prayer…Jesus emphasized prayer throughout His ministry. Full of the Holy Spirit He began ministry by 40 days’ prayer and fasting in the wilderness (Luke 4:1). In Mark 1:35 “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
The Disciples knew about Jesus’ prayer life. They wanted to be like Him in his prayer. One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)
If Jesus prayed like this, how important it is for us too to pray! We need to ground all our important decisions in prayer! Dr. Anand is going out to Colorado for 6 months. We need to send him out with prayer and pray for him over the next 6 months while he stays in Colorado.
- Jacob often said that God has blessed our early morning prayer meetings in the last 16 years. This means that God blessed our church community and sustained us these many years through the power of prayer. If there is anything the apostles learned from Jesus it is His faithfulness in prayer to the Father. In the Acts of the Apostles, when the church faced many crises, they focused on prayer and the ministry of the word of God. Then the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith (Act 6:7).
While on the mountainside, what did Jesus pray for? We are not sure exactly, but we know from verse 13 that after his all night prayer, Jesus immediately calls his disciples to him, and chose 12 of them. Let us read verse 13 together.
When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose 12 of them, whom he designated apostles:
Jesus probably prayed for wisdom and guidance to choose those whom the Father wants. These disciples will carry on with gospel ministry after he leaves this world. In light of salvation history, they will play a very important role. So Jesus although He is God, chose these 12 men with humble prayer and dependence on God. In summary, He chose 12 men based on God’s leading and direction.
Look at verse 13 again. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose 12 of them, whom he designated apostles:
Who were the 12. Luke listed each one by name. Look at verse 14-16. Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Mathew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Peter was named first. Is past name – Simon has the connotation of someone unstable and impulsive. He failed Jesus by denying him 3 times even though he promised to lay down his life for Jesus. Jesus knew that Simon loved him, but he also knew Simon is weak and fallible, so He prays for Simon, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers (Luke 22:31).” Later Jesus restored Peter on the Lake shore in John 21 and used him on the day of Pentecost to preach a powerful message that brought 3000 people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ (Act 2).
Next on the list is Andrew. Andrew is introduced as Peter’s brother. What do we know about Andrew? Andrew is always bringing people to Jesus. He brought Peter His brother to Jesus (John 1:40-42) and them took the backseat – not an easy thing to do!
Two other top disciples of Jesus were brothers. They were James and John the sons of Zebedee. James and John were ambitious (Matt 20:20-21) and Jesus called them sons of Thunder (Luke 9:54). They had a fiery temperament, but after being with Jesus, John and his brother James were transformed. John became the “apostle of love” and is known as the disciple Jesus loved (John 13:23). He wrote John’s gospel, the Johnnine epistles, and the Book of Revelations (Rev 1:9). James grew to be a man of steadfast faith and was the first martyr for the gospel (Act 12:2). These show the transforming power of Jesus in the hearts of people that stick around Jesus.
Jesus had the mindset of a disciple maker. He chose 12 men out of His many disciples. As we have seen so far, they were normal people from various backgrounds and with different personalities. They are like YDJ members who have come from various backgrounds. They loved Jesus and want to learn from Jesus, so they gathered around Jesus to be with Him that he may send them out to preach the and to have authority to drive out demons (Mark 3:13).
As the year was ending in 2016, YDJ members gathered at camp Lets in Southern Maryland to learn Jesus. We read from the prophet Daniel and from the Acts of the Apostles. P. Ezra gave a talk on the revivals that happened historically. Although it was a small gathering, everyone was encouraged and challenged to awaken from slumber. It was a blessed retreat and we agreed based on Scriptures that we all need an awakening. I was particularly moved because Emerald Brooks was sick, and yet she did not call in sick but took on the responsibility of giving a Bible message at the retreat. I thought wow, if she can give a Bible message while she was down with sickness, I have no excuse. All excuses are forever banished! Even though I could only attend one day, I saw through the retreat that when we have the Holy Spirit everything is possible. We can awaken to preach the gospel, we can awaken to God’s glorious vison for each of us to be a blessing, and we can awaken to build a loving community that welcome and support many needy people as we witness to the resurrection of Jesus. Our differences will disappear and in Jesus we really do become 1 body with a myriad of gifts through which God can reach the whole world with the gospel of His glory.
Jesus chose 12 out of many whom he designated apostles. So who then is an apostle? An Apostles is one who is sent with the authority of Jesus Christ.
Through these men, the Christian church would be founded and established. They will be history makers bringing the salvation of the Lord to the ends of the earth.
It’s also important to note that Jesus chose 12 men – they did not volunteer, but were conscripted. He said, Simon, James, John, Andrew…come! He chose them and they became apostles. Later on in John 15:16 Jesus said to them, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last -.” We often think we are Christians or disciples because we decided to follow Jesus, but that is not correct. We were chosen. Apostle Peter describes this very well when he proclaimed, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possessions, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Pt 1:9).” You are chosen by God. We can’t volunteer for Christian service. If we have come to know Jesus, the H. Spirit conscripted us by drafting us for kingdom service and equipped us to carry out ministry among campus students. If God’s hand is upon your life, you are His servant! God’s servants must have a ministry mindset. We are called to be faithful to serve the Lord with the gifts of ministry he has gifted us with.
Part 2. Jesus Healing ministry to the Crowd of People (17-19)
Now Jesus brings His disciples down from the mountainside to show them what their work as Apostle will entail. A large crowns of people were waiting for help. They had traveled from many different places – Judea, Jerusalem and northern coastal regions of Tyre and Sidon.
Look at verse 17-19.
“He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured and the people all tried to touch him because power was coming from him and healing them all.”
In this ways, Jesus begins to show what apostolic ministry entails…
Unlike doctors, shepherd do not just clock in and clock out, they are always ready to serve God’s flocks. Jesus is the best example of a good shepherd (John 10:11). He is an unending source of power. The people saw this and all tried to touch him because power was coming from him and healing them all.
Luke differentiates 2 groups of people in the masses (17). The first group were disciples – they are committed followers of Jesus. They stuck to Jesus in good times and in bad times. In short, Jesus was the focus of their lives. The other groups consist a great number of people who were not disciples. Though they came to hear Jesus preach and to be healed of their diseases, they were not committed to Jesus on any level. They only came with their problems in hopes that Jesus will give them a solution so they could go back home and enjoy their new found healing.
If we only focus on physical needs, then we overlook the deeper and more important need which is the salvation of our souls. We will not live here forever, we are going to die one day and face Almighty God. When that time comes we need to be ready to meet with Jesus Christ Whom God had appointed as the Judge of the living and the dead (Act 19:)
Disciples focus on Jesus. They depended on Jesus and stayed with Jesus even after everyone else left. In good times and in bad times disciples remained faithful to Jesus. For the disciples, the kingdom of God mattered more. They understood spiritual things and they were open to learning from Jesus.
Last week God called my spiritual mother M. Monica Park to heaven. Her family had served Lagos UBF for 25 years – in good times and in bad times, they remained faithful to God and in their mission. For many years M. Monica suffered due to health problems and kept on serving. After 25 years they went back to Korea, and in the last 3 years her sickness worsened until God called her to heaven last week. I will always remember the love and care I received from my spiritual mom M. Monica. I believe God called her to heaven for a good purpose and one day I will see her again in the kingdom of God. She left us a legacy of sacrifice and faith and her labor in the LORD is not in vain.
Like the disciples it is important that we follow Jesus not only as a Healer, Provider and Solver of problems, but we must also follow Him as our Savior and Lord. May God grant us clarity in this matter as we draw nearer to Jesus every day in 2017.
Part 3. The Beatitudes (20-26)
In this part Jesus teaches His disciples how to live a blessed life. We all want to live blessed lives in 2017. Let’s listen to Jesus and learn how to. After Jesus gave the apostles a visual lesson of what their apostolic ministry will entail, he begins to teach them with words. In verse 20,
“Looking at his disciples, he said: Blessed are you who are poor for yours is the kingdom of God.”
Riding on the wave of Jesus’ popularity, the apostle might have been tempted to feel proud or important, so Jesus explained to them the way of discipleship so that they could understand kingdom priorities.
Jesus came to bring kingdom blessings not fame or fortune and in his teachings in verse 20 -26, he contrasts kingdom values with worldly values. He teaches the disciples the meaning of true blessing. What then is true blessing? Look at Psalm 1: 3 “That person that is blessed (emphasis mine), is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yield its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prosper.”
In other words, true blessing is to be favored and approved of God. It is to live as Jesus disciples and to have the kingdom of God in our hearts. But when we live as disciples of Jesus sometimes we may be physically poor, nevertheless we are blessed because we have the kingdom of God. Though we hunger now, Jesus promises to satisfy us and when we weep God will wipe away our tears and make us laugh again (Rev 21:4). When people persecute us, exclude us, insult us, and reject us as evil because of the Son of Man, we should rejoice and leap for joy because we have a great reward in heaven. In short, as disciples our main focus of life is the kingdom of God and Jesus Christ, so we are blessed because we have set our priorities right. We do not live for money or food or laughter or people’s approval. Instead we live for the King and for the kingdom. Those who do this will have a great reward in heaven and a very happy blessed life.
Conversely people who live with fleeting worldly desires will be disappointed. Look at verse 24.
“But woe to you who are rich for you have already received your comfort.”
The term “woe” refers to a grievous distress and affliction that await people with misguided worldly proprieties. Notice the common factor that runs through 24-26. These people’s focus is to be rich now, well fed now, laugh now, and have everyone approve of them now. To them God’s approval and God’s way does not mean much. They do not value kingdom lifestyle and think that coming to church to learn about Jesus is a waste of time. Jesus warns that sadness lies ahead for people who make these nearsighted choses – their life focus is money, food, fun and fame.
When they die they will find that money, fame and physical comfort to be the only reward they get and that these things do not last. They are like the rich man in the story of Lazarus who had his comfort only in this world and lives in agony after he died. Lazarus on the other hand although he suffered in this world, kept His faith in God and was welcomed to Abrahams bosom where he is now comforted.
In this part Jesus lays before each one the way of discipleship which leads to a blessed life and the way of the world which leads to a curse. The standards Jesus calls us to live by are completely different than the world’s standards. The things associated with a blessed life are hardly seen as desirable in the world; conversely the things the world consider good and important are things that Jesus warns sternly about. Although God is not against food and laughter and money, these things must never become our priority in life. If they do, they sure will bring curses and not blessings. May God help us cultivate kingdom priorities by renewing our minds in the work of God daily in 2017.
In today’s Bible passage we learned that Jesus chose 12 men designating them apostles after humble dependence on God in all night prayers. The endless needs of the crowds were met through the all sufficient power of Jesus Christ and Jesus teaches the disciples the core principles of kingdom lifestyle.
May God help each of us walk closely with Jesus and hold one word of God in our heart in this New Year.
Key Verse: 6:13 “When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles.”