Speaker: Jim Stanley
Series: Discipled to Disciple
Text: Mark 3:13-19
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve — designating them apostles — that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. - Mark 3:13-15 (NIV)
Here we have the passage where Jesus appoints the twelve. These are the men most commonly called disciples in the gospels. In broad brush-strokes we find their intended purpose as well as the source of power that would enable them.
The account in Luke tells us that Jesus spent the entire night before praying to the Father. Because of what is at stake, matters of discipleship require seasons of prayer. Those who have been reached are being equipped to reach others; those who are being equipped are being trained to equip others. The establishment of the kingdom of God rests on their shoulders. None of this can happen apart from the active involvement of the Father.
A distinction is made between “those He wanted” and the twelve He appointed. Others would be trained and sent at a later time, all the way down the generations to include us. These were the initial ones who would be equipped to reach others. Jesus wants all who have believed in Him to follow Him but He also wants to use those who have come first to equip them. The pattern is being set here.
The word “appoint” is a far-reaching word. It is used 568 times in the New Testament. Its meanings include “to make” as when Jesus told the fishermen He would “make” them fishers of men (Matthew 4:19), “to do” emphasizing action, “to bring forth” pointing to a thing accomplished. When Jesus “appointed the twelve, He was looking forward to what they would do as His disciples. He would equip them far beyond their limited abilities to become what He here envisioned them to be. Jesus sees us not in terms of our present limitations but in terms of what He can do in and through us.
He designated the twelve as apostles. As with many terms in the Scripture it has both a specific and general reference. Specifically, these twelve (excluding Judas adding Matthias and the apostle Paul), would be the founding and defining members of Jesus’ church. They would be responsible for writing most of the New Testament. They would define and safeguard church leadership. Generally, they would pave the way for multitudes who were “sent” later, those who through the age have planted churches and “made disciples of all nations.”
The source of power for all this is caught up in six words: “that they might be with Him.” Jesus is the source of everything God intends to accomplish through His church. The apostles would receive it from Him and He would accomplish it through them. Their being with Him was the place where the power would be exchanged. This is even more true of us because we literally have Him with us at all times through the indwelling Holy Spirit. We will be “sent ones” to the extent we live our lives “with Him.”
The purpose of the twelve is conveyed with two words: preaching and power. He appointed them “…that He might send them out to preach.” Clearly the purpose begins with proclaiming the gospel. Nothing changes unless the gospel is believed. The primary task of the disciple is to proclaim the gospel, period end of story. Jesus made them fishers of men. He has appointed us to do the same. Failure to fulfill the great commission is the greatest failing of the church today.
The additional purpose of power may be found in both the spiritual and physical realms. Just as Jesus demonstrated, the message is validated with the display of power. God will provide the power to prove the validity of Hid message. We don’t tell Him how but we can trust that He will. Obedient disciples who spend time with Him will never lack it!
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