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Commissioning the Disciples

Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; (Matthew 10:1-2)

Over the next several weeks we are going to look at the King’s Men, His twelve disciples who became the Apostles. We see in the first verse of our opening scripture that he called his twelve disciples. Jesus called the twelve.

The world that Jesus viewed was that of a great field where mankind was lost and moving to their final destruction in the Day of Judgment. “But rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:6) This great field was not only in the day of Jesus, as immense as it was, spanned the ages after His ministry here in the world would be past. The field of this world is then, now, and until the Day of the Lord. The task is more than one man can do and Jesus knew the harvest was plenty but the workers for the harvest are sadly few. “Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37) Our Lord needed men who would be fully committed to spreading the gospel of salvation to the utter most parts of the world until the end of the age.

Jesus had many disciples who were following Him but not all of them were true believers. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.” (John 6: 63-66) It is as today sadly that Churches are filled with many fans of Jesus. Those who believe that by their association with a religious organization, association with the following of Jesus Christ, that they are assured a room in the many mansions of His Kingdom. There is a quite bit of a difference between those who believe and those who walk in faith with Jesus. “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” (James 2:19) It is good to believe in Jesus but better to claim Him as you Lord and Savior. There is no denying that Jesus lived but do we recognize fully who He is? We believe in Him but do we live as though we believe in who He is? Jesus, the beloved Son of God, the almighty co-deity of the Godhead, the Holy Trinity, full of the majesty of God, humbled Himself to become as we, human, and considered His former position to be sacrificed to His present station, that of a man. “Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.” Philippians 2:6) The result of which allowed Jesus to have empathy with us in our human condition and also to show the example that we should have complete obedience to the will of the Father.

Jesus, in His complete obedience to the Father, did not chose His disciples on His own initiative but that of the Father. We see the account in Luke that Jesus spent a night in prayer to the Father seeking His will for whom He should choose from the many who were following Him. “It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles.” Luke 6:12-13) After a night of dedicated prayer to the Father seeking His will Jesus chose the twelve that would lead the beginning of the work of the Church to come. In verse 6 they were to “Go” to the lost sheep. Jesus didn’t tell them to build a building and put out a sign inviting the lost in but to go into the harvest field. In verse 7 they were told to preach that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. They weren’t to criticize or to look down to the lost but to preach to them the way to restore their relationship with the Father. They were to teach the lost sheep that Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

Jesus first called His twelve after a night of prayer to the Father. We can take confidence in our walk if we are in the will of the Father. Consider the following verses, “And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.” (Matthew 4:19-22) These men already knew Jesus, they had already believed in who He was. They had already heard His teachings, yet they were still about doing what they do to earn a living. They were working at their businesses, living in their homes with their families. Going about life as they normally do. Then Jesus came to them along the shore as they were busy going about their task and said “follow me.” They immediately left their boats, left their nets, left their father and family, and without hesitation followed Jesus. How quickly do you follow someone when they ask or do you consider the consequences of that action? True they were impressed with Jesus, true they believed in who Jesus was, but so did many others. Yet they without hesitation obeyed, dropped everything, and followed Him. If we follow the example of Jesus and walk truly in the will of the Father, then we can know that the path we are on has been prepared ahead of us for the accomplishment of the Father’s will.

If I were out to turn the world upside down, change the course of human history, preach a new gospel, then I would chose the very best and brightest, those with proven track record, those abounding in talent and full of education. But then I would be looking at the present accomplishment of my chosen and not with the foreknowledge of God Almighty. God does not chose those which are on top today because God knows what tomorrow will bring. God does not look at the outer man but examines the inner man, the heart of man’s true self. “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless.” (1 Corinthians 3:19-20) God does not look at what we are but looks at our willingness to become that which He can lead us to become. Those of us who are disciples, learning the teachings of Jesus, keeping His commandments because we love Him, and following the path that He has set before us according to His plan and purpose for our lives, we must then remember that we have, through the foreknowledge of the Father, been called to follow Him. We must also remember that we are just as scruffy as the original twelve. “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-27)

None of the twelve were educated men and all were laborers. Andrew, Peter, James and John were fishermen. Matthew was a tax collector and Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, James, Judas, Simon, and Judas are believed to have been tradesmen. None of them were prophets, scribes, or public teachers. Therefore the twelve that the Father had given His Son would have to be trained by Jesus for the mission He would send them on. “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.” (John 17:6)

When we accept Christ as our Savior and commit to follow Him, then we will also have to be trained. Moses was forty years in training. Paul was spent approximately fourteen years in training and the disciples were trained three years by the Master teacher Himself. Many pastors today spend six to eight years in seminary preparing to become a pastor or professional Church minister. So we too must prepare ourselves for the calling that we have accepted. That of being the person God created us to be through following Jesus. This is the importance of attending a Church that teaches the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not a church that teaches a word of prosperity or good feeling, but the truth. The truth is as Christ was called to suffer for us on the cross we are also called to pick up our cross and follow Him. “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:38)

There are many fans in the world, sports fans, fans of country and rock music, fans of the stars, and fans of Jesus the Christ. Being a fan may make you feel good but the reward will remain with this passing world. The reward is for the here and now but being a follower of Jesus places a far and secure reward in the Kingdom to come, His Kingdom, the Kingdom of God. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:20-21)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, March 30, 2014

 Durant Bible College

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