Intro: Good morning church. Scott Foster, a 36-year-old accountant, hadn’t played a hockey game in over a decade, but because of his background as a goalie for Western Michigan University, he’d been designated as an “emergency goalie” for the Chicago Blackhawks, an honor that usually just results in free food in the press box. At a game in 2018, the goalie, Anton Forsburg was injured, and then in the 3rd period the rookie substitute goalie Collin Delia was also injured. Foster who was sitting in the stands was told, “Put your helmet on”. Foster went on to stop all seven shots attempted, earn the team belt (an honor reserved for the game’s best player), and set the media ablaze with tweets and posts from fans and analysts who could not believe he had never played professionally. Imagine getting tapped on the shoulder for a life-changing assignment, one for which you’re not prepared.
A few weeks ago, in Mark’s lesson from Mark 3:7-12 we read that “…a great multitude, when they heard how many things He was doing, came to Him.” Today we will continue using the third chapter of Mark’s gospel and begin to read at verse 13. In Mark 3:13-19 the bible says that Jesus; “… went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons: Simon, to whom He gave the name Peter; James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom He gave the name Boanerges [boa-ner-gees], that is, "Sons of Thunder''; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Canaanite; and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. And they went into a house.” [NKJ]
In Luke’s account of this event he says simply; Luke 6:13 - “he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;” Twelve men charged with the most awesome responsibility with which men could be charged. Luke’s account and Matthew’s account of this event gives us a little bit more information than does Mark's gospel record. In fact, if you notice here, Mark does not even refer to the twelve by the name apostle. Yet, later in his gospel Mark does refer to them with that name. It is Luke who calls these men the apostles. Of them he chose twelve and he named them apostles.
We remember the names of some of these people for the involvement they had in establishing the Lord's church. We see them in scripture as being active in that way. Yet there are others of these names which are not all that familiar to us. We have very little reliable information about some of them. I recognize that there are many traditions which have grown up around the names of some of these men. And we need to be careful when hearing of traditions. Often that is just what they are - traditions, with no credible historical information and certainly no scriptural information to support them.
What I would like for us to do today is just briefly consider what I would call this “landmark” event in the earthly ministry of Jesus.
I. THE CHOOSING OF THE TWELVE IS PRECEDED BY PRAYER - There are some events that are very significant to Jesus’ purpose and what He is going to do. So significant that they can only be seen as – landmarks. This is certainly one of those.
A. I invite you to turn in your Bibles to the gospel of Luke 6:12. What I want to note here is something that is so telling, and so like Jesus. Prior to the call of these twelve people, in verse 12 it says: Luke 6:12 - "Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God."
1. Notice that prior to this “landmark” event for appointing the apostles, Jesus is found apart from everyone else in a night of prayer.
2. Before this very important event we find Jesus in prayer, and then immediately upon the coming of the day, He calls to Him His disciples and of them He chooses 12. There must have been more than 12 disciples for Him to choose 12. The 12 He calls or names “apostles”. It is typical of Jesus that before significant occasions, we find Him in prayer. The most significant of those times of course is the night before He is crucified. He is in the garden of Gethsemane and there He is praying alone. Praying alone is also typical of Jesus.
B. I mention this because I want us to draw a lesson from it. The lesson is in this question: should we not, you and I, more actively follow this example of Jesus in the matter of significant events or occasions in our lives?
1. Is it not true of us, many of us, that we rush into decisions and into significant events without sessions of prayer?
2. Perhaps we have become such a do-it-yourself society that, even in these matters, that’s exactly what we tend to do. We do it ourselves, and we do so, I fear, because we say; I am independent; I do not need help. I'm going to do this myself – without accessing the incredible resources of prayer. We rush headlong into events whatever they may be, with our human wisdom as the only wisdom we are using.
3. Here is the son of God, about to choose the 12 men with whom He is going to entrust the proclamation of the gospel and the establishment of His church. This is the son of God, and I wonder; should He have needed to pray? He is Jesus, He is the Christ. Then I realize just how beautifully and how well He teaches us by the illustration of His life. And this is one of those illustrations. It is my belief that we need to use this example in our own lives more often. I know I need to use it in mine.
II. WHAT WOULD BE THEIR PURPOSE? - He chose the 12… and what would be their purpose?
A. Consider for just a minute, the words apostle and disciple. If you look in Luke’s narrative the sixth chapter, you read this at verse 13; " And when it was day, He called His disciples to Him; and from them ( that is, the disciples) He chose twelve whom He also named apostles;" Think of the words “apostle” and “disciple”
1. The first thing we can say is that apostle and disciple are not interchangeable terms. The word disciple means a learner, a pupil, a follower, and all those from Acts the second chapter who were baptized into Jesus Christ we call disciples. Remember in the 11th chapter of the book of Acts at verse 26, the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
2. The name disciple is not apostle, it is different from apostle. Apostle means ambassador, one who is chosen and sent on a specific mission. A commissioner of Christ having miraculous powers. We know that in our own country we have ambassadors from various countries in the world. They come to Washington DC, and they present their credentials. Not just everyone can be an ambassador. That person must be chosen by the Head of State and he is entrusted with a specific mission, given particular credentials and sent.
3. That is exactly the nature of these 12 men. They had to meet certain qualifications. If you turn in your Bibles to the book of Acts, chapter 1, at verses 21 and 25 here’s what we read about the manner of the apostles as they replaced Judas. “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, "beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.'' And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, "You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.''”
i. They had to meet certain qualifications and the actual choosing is left to the Lord. Notice the qualifications. Beginning from the baptism of John, now let me ask you: are any of us qualified? We may be righteous people. We may be good people. We may be knowledgeable people, but is any one of us qualified based on that one thing?
ii. Of course, there are in the religious world today, those groups who have their “apostles” as they call them. Folks, based on scriptural qualifications, these people are not apostles like the 12. Wearing the name doesn’t mean you’re an apostle. If you don’t have the credentials, you’re not an apostle as they were.
4. The qualifications were given, and these 12 men were endowed with miraculous powers. In the 16th chapter of Mark’s gospel, at verse 20, here’s what we read: “they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.” Not only were they endowed with miraculous powers, but here’s something else that is significant about apostles. It was they, and they alone, who could impart miraculous gifts to others.
5. I would like you to turn in your Bibles to the eighth chapter of the book of Acts and there we’re going to read of some of the things that were happening in Samaria. Beginning at verse 14, “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them” You remember Peter and John are apostles. We read their names a while ago. “who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.: For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Then they laid” (Peter and John, two apostles) “ then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” The apostles possessed the credentials, the appointment of the Lord, possessed miraculous power, and could pass those gifts to others. If we stop and think about that, we realize if that’s the case, then with the death of the last apostle this particular power ceased.
6. Are there miracles today? There are unusual things that certainly happen. People often call them miracles, but they are not miracles, in the sense that the New Testament uses of the word. There is providence today; but not miracles in the New Testament sense. That phenomenon ceased very naturally with the death of the last person on which the apostles had laid their hands.
B. There were 12 of them. We’re told, - of them He chose 12.
1. In scripture numbers are very significant. Numbers are not all that significant to us except as they relate to our bank accounts, or as they relate to something that we want to purchase, then numbers are very important. In the days of the New Testament, in ancient times, numbers had significance because they were part of communication. Numbers were used symbolically to represent certain things. It has been said that on average, one of every five verses in scripture contains a number. Numbers were part of the communication.
2. The number 12 is often found in scripture. One of the things that it represents symbolically is wholeness or completeness or perfection. Something that it would invariably represent in the minds of the people then, is the nation of Israel. There were 12 tribes.
3. Let’s stop and think a little bit about that—12 tribes, Israel. There are 12 apostles. What could be the significance of that? Is there any significance? I would not tell you that I know for certain that there is, but let me suggest this…
4. The church is the Israel of God — the spiritual Israel.
5. Turn in your Bibles to the sixth chapter of the book of Galatians, verse 16, here’s what the apostle Paul writes: “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” The writer is referring to the church, as the Israel of God. Galatians 3:7 – “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.” And next at verse 29 – “And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
C. Something else to note. As Mark gives us his recollection of this event, by inspiration, he says of the apostles, that they should be with him, that is with Jesus.
1. One of the interesting things about the rabbis of that time was that many of them were itinerate or traveling teachers. As they traveled, they would have a small entourage of people with them. Disciples who were learning and watching. These disciples themselves might one day become rabbis I would assume. In this case it is Jesus and the 12. They would be with Him and during this period of time the 12 apostles would hear Jesus teaching many things concerning the kingdom of God.
i. This choosing of the 12 marks a very definite ending of one period and the beginning of another in the lives of these men. It is time now for them to learn of things concerning the kingdom.
ii. If you’ll turn in your Bibles to the gospel of John, chapter 14, there’s something that is said there that is, I think, significant for us. At verse 25 and 26, Jesus says: “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. We remember that Mark said that the apostles would be with Jesus. Here Jesus is referring to the many, many things that He has spoken to them while He was yet with them. Now let’s look at the next verse; "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
2. There’s a second thing happening as well. Not only were they hearing things concerning the kingdom of which the Holy Spirit would remind them at the appropriate time, but they were also seeing Jesus as He interacted with people from all walks of life. How did Jesus deal with real life situations? They were in effect learning “what would Jesus do”.
3. What they would learn would stand them in good stead in the years to come. If the future of the Lord’s church was going to be entrusted to these men, they would have to be well schooled in Christ.
4. Next look at Matthew 28:19-20. Jesus is ready to ascend. The last written words we have of His while He was on this earth are these: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Then verse 20, and it is here we find why it was so important that they be schooled. And the reason why it was so important that the Holy Spirit remind them of those things in which they were taught… “teaching them (those people whom they are baptizing, people who would then become disciples of the Lord, Christians) teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you”
D. They needed to know these things because He would send them forth to preach.
1. Going back in the gospel of Matthew to the 10th chapter, let’s read together verses five through seven, just after their selection. What we’re going to discover is the preaching that they were going to do at this point in time was of a limited nature. It was limited as to the people to whom they would go. We begin to read at Matthew 10:5-6: “These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. "But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. ” At this point their preaching was limited to the “house of Israel”
2. Jesus goes on in verse 7: “And as you go, preach, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'” Their message was to proclaim the imminence of the kingdom of heaven.
3. Scripture continues in verses 8-9: “"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. "Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your moneybelts,” They are to go to the house of Israel, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. “You go preaching and here’s the message”. They were not yet to go to the Gentiles. That would come in time. In this part of the ministry of Jesus they were to go only to the Israelites. Their message was - the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. They were to go preaching of the imminent coming of the kingdom of God.
4. The kingdom would soon be set up. Mark 9:1 reveals that Christ promised it to be done during the lives of some of them. “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”
5. I imagine an image of the ripples on a quite pond which come from the dropping of a single stone into the water. The ripples begin where the stone drops in and then spread out. What we have here folks, is the message of the kingdom spreading out. You go, and you preach, and you teach. He sends ambassadors with credentials, His apostles, to accomplish the preaching and the teaching - of the coming of the kingdom.
E. There’s one more thing that Mark tells us. Jesus gives them power.
1. In Matthew 10:8 we are told that they were given the power to: “"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons...
2. The fact they are endowed with these miraculous powers would in the minds of the people, associate them with Jesus for these were the very kinds of things that were being done by Jesus Himself.
3. There is something else that Matthew tells us. Let is continue in verse 8 of chapter 10. Jesus says to them: “…freely ye have received, freely give”.
i. Notice the thing that has immediately preceded these words; “And as you go, preach, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.” “Freely ye have received, freely give.” The knowledge and ability you have received you are to freely give. This would have been readily understood. A Rabbi was bound by law to give his teaching freely asking for nothing; the Rabbi was absolutely forbidden to take money for teaching the Law which Moses had freely received from God. Jesus extends this to the apostles He is sending out. They were not to charge for these services, teaching, healing, cleansing, raising the dead or casting out demons.
ii. Can you imagine the amount of money they could have raised among themselves with these incredible powers? He goes on to say, don’t provide gold or silver or brass in your purses nor script for your journey. You have received this power freely, you’ve received the message freely therefore you freely give it to others. Neither the message nor the powers with which they had been endowed were their personal property or domain…
4. I would also like you to turn, with reference to these powers, to Hebrews 2:3-4 – “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, (and notice this) God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” No, these miraculous gifts were not their own personal property. These miraculous gifts and powers had a very specific purpose and that was to confirm the message as a message come from God Himself.
F. What then is the purpose of the apostles? Ultimately it was to be witnesses of the risen Christ.
1. Turning to Acts 1:8, Jesus says to the apostles, by the way, if you follow the pronouns all the way back through this part of the chapter you get to the apostles. Acts 1:8 – “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” What was their purpose? To be witnesses of the resurrection of the risen Christ. Notice at verse 22 of this chapter the selection of the person who would replace Judas as they give the qualifications necessary: “beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” The “us” refers to the 12, the apostles.
2. Then in Acts 2:32 – “This Jesus, God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.” Again, if you follow the pronouns in this passage, you’ll come back to the 12, the apostles.
3. One of the things that we hear often today is the use of this word witness, “I’m going to witness to this person. Or witness to that person.” We need to be very careful in our use of the word witness. Today the word witness is used in a way it is never found in the New Testament. I cannot witness to that which I have not seen. I just can’t do it. What I can do is tell people with my mouth of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. I can tell of the action of the gospel in my life.
4. I can teach, but I cannot witness to people as if I have seen the resurrection. I am not a witness of the risen Christ. I didn’t see Him. I can recount the testimony from scripture, but that’s a whole lot different from witnessing. The apostles were witnesses -- not me. In that respect we’re not witnesses, we are teachers.
III. THEIR NAMES
A. What were their names? Most of their names are familiar to us. We remember Peter, and his brother Andrew, James and John the sons of Zebedee, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas and Judas Iscariot. We remember those names. They’re familiar.
1. A few apostles might not be as familiar, such as Philip, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas, sometimes called Thaddeus.
2. What we want to understand is: it’s not as important to be able to list the names as it is for us to realize that the 12 came from various backgrounds. If we look at the 12, we see in these men nothing from an earthly point of view that gives them any stature. They have little if any formal education. They have no position, no wealth. They’re just ordinary people, common men. Yes, they were industrious, keen of mind, sensitive of soul, honest, perceptive, and courageous. They were — 12 very common men from very common lives, common backgrounds, and they heralded the establishment of the Lord’s church and constituted it on this earth.
B. There’s one final reminder to which I would like to call attention. In Jude at verse 17. Jude 17 – “But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ:” The challenge — remember the words of the apostles.
1. I know verse 18 goes on to give a specific illustration of the kind of thing to which Jude is referring. They were told there would be mockers in the last times, those who would walk after their own ungodly lusts. The apostles warned that would happen.
2. I want to come back to verse 17 with this: remembering the words of the apostles should be broadly viewed. Do you remember Acts chapter 2 and verse 42? The disciples, those people who had been baptized into Christ, later called Christians, the disciples continued how? Acts 2:42 – “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
There is so much more that we could say today, but there is one last thing I would like us to remember. The role of apostle as it is epitomized, exemplified by the 12, remembering of course that the Apostle Paul was chosen as one out of due time. The role of apostles was a onetime role in the Lord’s church during its beginning days, its infancy.
Now we have the word of the covenant, which is God’s instrument in conversion, in sanctification, and in the constituting of the church. Having the word of the covenant, tells me that the apostles did their work well. Where He leads me, I will follow. I was thinking that that song is appropriate for today’s thoughts. Where the Lord leads me, I’m going to follow Him. He went through His life serving others. Where He leads me, I’ll follow. He’s going to lead in a life of service. He went through life making sacrifices as He served. Where He leads me, I am willing to go and make sacrifices.
The place where we need to go first, folks, is with Jesus into His death. And the way we do that is we go with Jesus into baptism. We are buried as He was buried, and we are raised as He was raised to walk in newness of life. Romans, the sixth chapter. Where He leads me, I will follow. Will you follow Him through His death to be raised as He was to walk in newness of life today?
While we’re singing this song would you think about that? I want us to realize that the disciples today are not folks that are distant from Christ. They are those people who have been baptized into His body. I want you to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and so does He. You can only do that if you follow Him into His death and then ultimately into His resurrection. If you need to be buried with Christ in baptism today, why don’t you make that decision? If there’s any way that we can be of service to you, we invite you to come while we stand and while we sing.
Reference Sermon by - Cecil A. Hutson
Where and when we meet
Chardon, Ohio 44024