He also appointed 12—He also named them apostles—to be with Him, to send them out to preach, and to have authority to drive out demons.
This past summer, my wife and I watched the mini-series Band of Brothers. It’s the story about Easy Company of the US Army 101st Airborne division and their mission in WWII Europe from training camp to the end of the war.
The men parachute behind enemy lines on D-Day. And by the end of the series, they’re liberating a concentration camp as the war is coming to a close. It’s a fascinating tale of comradeship that is, in the end, the story of ordinary men who did extraordinary things.
In this passage in Mark (and also Luke), we see Jesus took significant time to pray and be with His Father to make one of His most important decisions of his ministry: the selection of His disciples.
Jesus didn’t take volunteers—He chose and called those He wanted. They were His “band of brothers,” those He spent time with, invested in, and commissioned to take the gospel to the world. Who were these men? Surely Jesus selected the powerful, influential, and immensely talented, right?
There’s no indication from the text or history that would suggest these men were any more than simple, ordinary people. In fact, other Rabbis (teachers with disciples) were around in Jesus’ day, and none of these men had been selected.
For reasons we don’t fully know, Jesus chose these men. But for what purpose? He appointed the 12 “to be with Him, to send them out to preach, and to have authority to drive out demons.”
Notice that the first calling is “to be with Him.” There’s nothing that can replace spending time with Jesus.
As the disciples watched Jesus teach, pray, minister, heal, interact with others, and live, they learned how to do these things. It was spending time with Jesus and being connected to Him that allowed them to go out, preach, and have the authority to drive out the powers of evil.
I think it’s intriguing, maybe even funny, that Jesus gave some of them nicknames. It was as if He said, “Hey, Simon, I’m going to call you ‘the Rock.’ James and John, you guys are the ‘Sons of Thunder’!”
It’s also interesting the diversity of people He chose. Is Simon the Zealot, part of the band of Jewish rebels (the Zealots) who wanted to overthrow Rome by force and would sometimes kill Jewish collaborators? Well, Jesus chose one of those collaborators. And remember Matthew (or Levi), the tax collector? Many Jews despised these guys because they collected taxes for Rome and enriched themselves.
It’s amazing to think that Jesus spent most of His time and investment, not with the crowds, but with this motley crew of ordinary men whom He would use to take the gospel message to the world.
What does all this have to do with you? If you’re a follower of Christ, not only did you choose Jesus, but Jesus also chose you. You’re one of His. It’s not good to say that you’re a simple ordinary person with little to offer, because this puts you in the same camp with these 12 men.
Are you spending time with Him? John 15:5 reminds us that if we abide in Christ we’ll produce much fruit, but that apart from Him we can do nothing. Do you have a band of brothers or sisters that together can take the love of Christ to the world?
It all begins with spending time with Jesus who indwells you by His Spirit. You’re in Christ. He’s in you. How will you let Him shine through you today?
- What one name is different in Luke’s list compared to Mark’s?
- Do you think there’s any significance to the fact that Jesus chose 12? Is there something significant about the number 12 in Israel’s history of its people? What may Jesus be communicating by this?
- From this passage we see that companionship with Jesus is to lead to service that benefits others. What specific way will you apply that principle to your life today?
- Spending time with Jesus and ministering in His name isn’t always an individual thing, but it’s sometimes best done with a tight knit group of brothers or sisters in Christ. Do you have an active band of brothers or sisters? If not, what’s one “next step” you could take to pursue this?