The Twelve Apostles12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles:
Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermon: Jesus calls the Twelve
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: Common Men, Uncommon Calling
The next section of verses don't seem to require one sermon for every half verse, but MacArthur has an excellent series that really gives us a picture of who these twelve disciples were and how God worked in their lives to transform them from weak, doubting men, into humble yet mighty servants to spread the gospel and changed the world forever.
MacArthur: Sad to say we don't make much of them. Oh we make a little bit about Peter because he's dominant in the gospel account. We make a lot out of Paul who was a late Apostle and who was actually a Pharisee. We make something out of James and something out of John, maybe a little bit out of Philip and Andrew and something, at least, about the story of Matthew and we identify with him because he wrote his gospel. But for the most part, they're not heroes to us and that's sad....
when you get to heaven some day and you walk through those gates of the city, the New Jerusalem, the glorious city of New Jerusalem, when you walk through those gates, those twelve gates, three on each side, it's a four-square city, when you walk through those gates at the top of each gate there's going to be a name and the name at the top of the gate is going to be one of the twelve tribes of Israel. But there's going to be a name at the bottom of every gate and the name at the bottom of every gate is going to be the name of an Apostle. They are going to have an eternal tribute in heaven and you ought to know about them and you ought to know all there is about them from the text of Scripture and from history. And you're going to find this is tremendously encouraging because God was able to do so much with so little...and that gives us all hope, doesn't it?
Of course, in no way is MacArthur saying we should turn them into saints to be worshiped. But they should be inspirational to us. Why? Because they were common, ordinary, very flawed men. Men who had flunked out of rabbi school. They hadn't made the cut, and therefore they all had jobs ranging from fishermen to tax collectors. None of them were scribes, priests, Pharisees or Sadducees - which was in itself a judgment on the religious system.
The fact that they were such common and flawed men insured two things. First, that their incredible impact on the world would be credited to God and not themselves. And secondly, that we would realize that God can use us, common and flawed as we are, in a similar fashion, for His glory.
One thing MacArthur explained, which was helpful, was that this is a different calling than the original calls we've read about. Jesus had a large following of disciples - some of them He called specifically (such as Peter, James and John with the boat incident, such as Levi at his tax collector booth), and some simply followed on their own. And out of this large group of disciples, Jesus was now about to choose 12 to specifically train and prepare to send out into the world.
first they were called to believe in Him. Then they were called to drop everything and follow Him. And now out of that group who have dropped everything and followed Him, He called them to Himself, He called them to drop everything, and now He identifies them as apostles. Later He will gift them miraculously and finally He will send them out. They will go out on short-term mission opportunities to preach and heal and do great miracles and then they'll come back. They'll go out and come back, they'll go out and they'll come back. Finally He leaves and they go out for good on their own. These are the apostles.
He did it "at this time". When was that? When there was a marked increase in hostility from the religious leaders, when the inevitability of the cross is looming, and Jesus knows He needs to prepare men to carry on His ministry for when He is gone. These twelve men will become the new and true spiritual leaders of Israel that are going to preach the gospel of salvation by grace and faith, and give birth to the church.
Knowing that such a crucial choice was upon Him, what did Jesus do?
He sought the will of the Father.
All. night. long.
Another interesting note in the Greek language you don't see in the English, it says at the end of verse 12 He spent the whole night in prayer TO God. Actually in Greek it says...He spent the whole night in the prayer of God. And we find that He was not only man, but here He is God. It is the prayer of God. And what that indicates to us is that He is now engaged in inter-trinitarian communion. It is the very prayer of God that is going on there as the two members of the trinity are communing with one another. So here is Jesus in His humanity having to pray all night to get clarity on this matter and Jesus in His deity praying the very prayer of God. What that means is, His prayers were all perfectly consistent with the mind and will of God for He Himself was also God. And therein do we see again the incredible mystery of His humanity and His deity brought together.
If Jesus, God incarnate, needs to spend the whole night in prayer before making a major decision, what do you think we need to do?
Only then, after praying all night long, He chooses the twelve.
What did He choose them for exactly?
They would be the foundation of the church, the new spiritual leaders of Israel, the recipients of divine revelation, the source of sound doctrine, given to edify the church as preachers and teachers, examples of virtue and godliness, and were given miraculous powers to confirm their message.
And He needed to train them, intimately. They were in no way ready for this commissioning. They lacked spiritual understanding, they lacked humility, they were self-centered and proud, they lacked faith, they lacked commitment, they lacked power.
Just perfect candidates for God to use because then there is no human explanation for what happened, right? And that's the church....So He took them as they were and He taught them and He set an example before them and He did miracles and He prayed and He gave them the Holy Spirit, and you and I today sitting here are testimony to the fact that they changed the world....
What Jesus here has then is twelve men to whom He will delegate His power, delegate His authority, delegate His message and they will go and represent Him as official representatives. The Jews understood this in the Jewish Mishna, which is ancient Jewish writing, it says this, quote: "The one sent by the man is as the man himself." So they understood this kind of identity, a commissioned representative they knew acted with the same authority as the one who sent him. An apostle then was a title of great respect, a title of great honor and a title of privilege and a title of authority because it bore with it power. Jesus is saying...I'm now identifying you twelve as My official representatives....
Why twelve? Why not eight, why not twenty-four, why twelve? Answer, because there were twelve tribes in Israel. You say, "Well why does that matter?" Because this was symbolic. Israel was apostate. The Judaism of the time of Jesus was not...was not the truth of the Old Testament. It was not the true worship of the true God. It was a system of self-righteous works and ceremonies, it was apostate, it was heretical. And it was time for a new leadership in Israel and the Apostles were the new leaders of the new, true Israel of God who would believe the gospel. And the fact that there were twelve symbolizes that Jesus is calling for a new leadership for the whole nation.
Luke 22:28-30 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
That proves the point that the Apostles were chosen to be the leaders over a new Israel and some day in the Kingdom, the Millennial Kingdom, each tribe of Israel, each tribe will then be made up of believing Jews, we know the twelve tribes are going to be identified, aren't they?, in the time of Tribulation because twelve thousand out of every tribe will be chosen to preach the gospel, totaling 144 thousand. All Israel will be saved. There will be converted people out of every tribe in Israel. They will go into the Kingdom. Each of those tribes will therefore be identified and one of the Apostles will literally sit on a throne ruling over that new spiritual true believing Israel....
During the Millennial Kingdom they are going to sit on thrones and rule the tribes of Israel....not only are they going to reign in the Millennial Kingdom, but they're going to be immortalized eternally in the foundation, their name is going to be emblazoned in the gold foundations of the holy city, the New Jerusalem, forever and ever and ever. Every time you go into the city you're going to go over the name of an Apostle and under the name of the tribes of Israel. This is to show that God once brought the truth of His saving message through the tribes of Israel, and then again later on through the Twelve Apostles.
Now these men are important then. They are eternally important. I don't want you wandering through the gate and not knowing whose name is below you, okay? So we want to learn about these men
Is your curiousity as piqued as mine is?! I want to learn about these men, and I'm looking forward to the next several days!
Check out Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Did you catch that? They were unschooled and ordinary men, but it was obvious that they had been with Jesus.
Is it obvious that you, that I, have been with Jesus?
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 6:14