In today’s passage, Mark tells us about Christ’s choosing of the 12 apostles. Some have already been mentioned, while others are mentioned for the first and only time in this gospel. While Jesus no longer appoints apostles today, He still calls all of us to be His disciples.
The Text (Mark 3:13-19)
13 And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. 14 Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, 15 and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons: 16 Simon,to whom He gave the name Peter; 17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom He gave the name Boanerges, that is, “Sons of Thunder”; 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Cananite; 19 and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. And they went into a house.
By this point in His growing public ministry, Jesus now has many “disciples,” or followers. Some of these would stay with Him as sincere students of His teaching and become Christians after His death and resurrection. Others would walk away at some point before or after Jesus’ trip to the cross, unwilling to commit themselves to the high cost of being His disciple. As His following grows, Jesus now picks 12 men to become His inner circle of closest disciples. 11 of these 12 men would become the “apostles,” or founders of the church; one of them, Judas Iscariot, would betray Jesus to His enemies and never come to repentance, tragically choosing to commit suicide rather than being restored to Christ. During the rest of Mark’s gospel, the 12 apostles will learn the ropes of ministry. They will stay close to Jesus, listen to His teachings, watch Him work miracles and interact with all kinds of people. They will be challenged to do their own preaching and healing in His name. They will learn from Him the meaning of the cross and then see Him crucified. In all, Jesus will pour about three years of daily discipleship into these 12 men to prepare them for the work of ministry that lay ahead.
The 12 disciples were just ordinary men when Christ called them to service. They were not religious leaders or wealthy elites; they were just regular working people. But when Jesus picked them, they said, “Yes” and followed Him wherever He led. At times they sinned and failed to be faithful to their Lord. They often struggled to understand Christ’s teachings. But they pressed on after Jesus and kept coming back to Him after each failure. Judas Iscariot did not, but from his words and actions in the gospels, we see that He had never really given His heart to Christ. Judas followed Christ for the wrong reasons, seeking earthly gain from Jesus instead of spiritual salvation and a relationship based on grace. Mark lists all of the apostles by name and emphasizes the special importance of Simon Peter and then James and John by listing these leaders first. Even within the 12 apostles, there seems to have been three groups of four and even ministry pairs for when the disciples were sent out to preach and do miracles.
There are no apostles today. The 12 apostles plus later Paul were appointed for a very specific task, the founding of the church after Christ’s ascension (return) to heaven. They were empowered to heal and cast out demons to demonstrate the power and approval of God on their unique ministry. Samples of the type of ministry they did are recorded for us in the book of Acts. They either directly or indirectly (by lending their memories and authority to the authors) wrote the books of the New Testament. When they died, God did not need to replace them because their work was finished. The church was established and God had finished writing the Bible.
But today God still calls men and women to become His disciples, and it still takes mentoring and time for God to make us into His disciples. After calling the 12 disciples. Jesus spent three years training them. This was intense, daily training in how to live the Christian life. We had many students make first time decisions or recommitments to follow Christ this spring. That surrendering of the heart to God is the first step; what we need now is follow-up discipleship. To grow in Christ, you need to find Christian mentors to help you as you learn to read the Bible, pray, and hear from and obey the Lord. You will struggle like the 12 apostles, and you need encouragement and help from experienced disciples to stay on track. If your parents are mature believers, then they are the first people that you should look to for guidance in your walk with Christ. If you can get to church regularly, it would be great to find adult mentors like small group Bible study or discussion leaders. Finally, as a Christian school, we can and will offer more discipleship opportunities like the lunch time Bible studies. I believe that if you really want to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, God will honor that desire and provide mentors to help you. But you have to want and take advantage of those opportunities when He presents them. Still praying for your growth today. Blessings.