Today in our journey through Mark, we look at Mark 3:13-19, where Jesus appoints His twelve disciples:
13 He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, 15 and to have authority to cast out demons. 16 So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
A couple of things that we notice in this passage. First, some clarifications of language. Here it says that He appointed “Twelve.” They aren’t given a title. Before the Resurrection, these twelve are called Disciples and after they are called Apostles. Same people, though. The definition of an Apostle is one that Jesus appeared to and gave a specific task. That’s why Paul is an Apostle, even through he was not one of the Disciples.
Another thing is that there are different “levels,” if you will, of people who follow Jesus. There are the general crowds that follow Him when He preaches, but those crowds go back to their homes when the day is over. Then there are the women that followed and supported His ministry, like Mary Magdalene. And in this culture this is extraordinary. Women didn’t leave the home, much less follow an itinerant preacher around Galilee. But Jesus included them in His followers and it was Mary that was the first tell anyone that He had risen from the dead.
Then you have the 72 that Jesus sent out to do ministry as well. This would have been those that were close to Him, that were faithful and that followed Him. He had a large group with Him at almost all times.
But we see in this, the Twelve. There is great symbology about the number twelve, remember there were twelve tribes of Israel, in appointing twelve, Jesus is showing that His ministry stands fully in line with the Old Testament and that all the promises of the Old Testament were ultimately pointing to Him.
Notice, though who He calls. Not many were educated. They were fishermen. They were common. In fact, we don’t know a lot about many of them. But let me tell you my favorite thing about the Twelve. There is Simon the Cananaean. And there is Matthew (or Levi) who we saw Jesus call earlier. Matthew as a tax collector. Simon was a member of a group known as the Zealots. The zealots were a group of Jews that wanted to drive out the Romans. They HATED the Romans. They would often carry a dagger in their belt so that they could kill a Roman when the chance came.
And you know they only people they hated more than Romans? Tax collectors. Why? Because tax collectors where traitors. They betrayed their people to work for the Romans. Man on man, did they hate tax collectors.
And who were two of the Twelve? Matthew, a tax collector. And Simon, a zealot. Through Jesus they could move past their hatred, their distrust, all the baggage that they brought to this group.
Through Jesus they could. Through following Him, through making Him their Lord, they could.
If they focus on their “stuff” they would have killed each other. If they focus on Jesus, they have unity. When Jesus is in the middle, He brings life out of our diversity and difference. When we put our “stuff” in the middle, it tears us apart.
Jesus was able to bring unity out of such great difference. And He can do the same today.
May we find our unity and purpose, today and each day, in Jesus Christ.
Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 3:20-30.
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