Here we find the Son of God appointing twelve apostles who would carry forward the work after His death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven. These few fishermen are known throughout the world as the followers of Jesus whereas the names of kings and mighty men have been forgotten. These men are remembered because they trusted in the One who is the most important Person who ever lived. These preachers are held in “everlasting remembrance” (Psalm 112:6).
“And He goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto Him whom He would: and they came unto Him. And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils” (Mark 3:13-15).
Jesus had spent all night in prayer before choosing the twelve (Luke 6:12). Their ordination set them out as a distinct group of men. The Lord trained them to preach and minister. They were to be the pattern and model for all believers that came to Christ through their ministry. The only true successors of these men are those who faithfully follow the same Jesus as they did. Their calling was threefold:
1. They were called to be with Jesus. Faithful ministers of the Gospel ought to stay close to the Lord. The believer must abide with Christ, for only then is it possible to follow His teachings. “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). The world recognises those who are with the Lord, “They took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
2. They were called to preach. Preaching and teaching the word of God is the most important work on earth. An unpreaching minister is as useless as a lighthouse without a lamp, a silent trumpeter, and a sleeping watchman.
3. They were called to do miracles. We may not be called upon to heal sick people in the name of Christ, but we can pray for them and comfort those in need. The disciples / apostles did heal the sick and cast out devils.
“And Simon He surnamed Peter; And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and He surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite, And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house” (Mark 3:16-19).
Out of the multitudes that followed Jesus twelve were chosen to be His apostles. The word ‘apostle’ is derived from the Greek ‘apostolo’ and means ‘ambassador, messenger, set apart for important business’. The Lord Himself is the chief Apostle, “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to Him that appointed Him” (Hebrews 3:1-2). These men, except for Judas, would build the church upon the foundation laid by Christ.
The apostles were converted men the moment they responded to the call of Christ. There are many in pulpits today, who have gone through theological training, but do not see the need for being born again. Those who have never been with the Lord are incapable of urging the lost to come to the Saviour. To them the ministry is a good living rather than working for Christ. Such men are a joy to the devil and an offence to God.
“And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when His friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on Him: for they said, He is beside Himself” (Mark 3:20-21).
News about what Jesus was doing spread fast. When His family, relatives and friends heard of it, probably out of embarrassment, they sought to stop Him. They considered His ministry to be sheer madness. The devil used every possible means to hinder the Lord’s work.
This event stuck in the minds of the apostles for they would experience the same thing in their own lives. Those who are blind to the truth think that preaching the word is a sign of a mental disorder. The prophet who came to anoint Jehu was considered to be mad (2 Kings 9:11), and Festus told Paul that he was a madman, “Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad” (Acts 26:24). Believers today are thought of as mad if they do not follow the multi-faith road, ecumenism or accept evolution. Isn’t it strange that a person who wears himself out with exercise or in climbing tall mountains is considered to be dedicated and diligent, but those who labour for the Lord are branded fools and fanatics? Spiritual things are foolish to the natural mind, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). The Lord stands by those who suffer for His sake.
The apostles were not called to a life of luxury and ease, instead they would face all of the problems and persecution predicted by Jesus. Everyone of them had an eventful and blessed life, but all suffered greatly for the cause of Christ. They were misunderstood, beaten, imprisoned and put to death. The compromiser never has to worry about any of this. We must continue to spread the truth regardless if the world receives us or not.