Jesus was doing massive amounts of healing and preaching to the multitudes. The Jews from Galilee and Judea that came to Him early on in His ministry were being joined by Gentiles from cities hundreds of miles away. They had heard rumors of One who could heal, and they flocked to Galilee just to get near this Jesus whose fame was spreading far and wide.
One night, in the midst of this busy time, Jesus went off to a mountain to pray. He was there all night, seeking the will of His heavenly Father. Imagine the conversation they must have had, the intensity of the love that flowed between them, the utter surrender to God’s will in Jesus every response. He was strong to not only want to do God’s perfect will, but to carry it out with perfection.
When He came down from the mountain, He called His disciples over to Him. These were the men who had been following Jesus throughout His ministry. From the many who had been with Him, He chose twelve. These were the ones that the Father had chosen to be the special servants of His Son.
Already the power of God was flowing from the One in Jesus Christ to those who had faith. Already the Kingdom of God was spreading out from his Son to the lives of those who had put their trust in Him. But now these men were entering a special new stage. They would be trained by the Lord Himself. He would teach them and model for them, and then send them out to practice. He would prepare them to be sent out to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven. They would learn to cast out demons and bring His healing to the broken. They would be on the front lines as heralds with the Messiah!
Imagine walking with Christ every day. Imagine being called to be the inner circle of His fellowship, knowing the intimate thoughts of His heart. They would have the unimaginable privilege of drawing near to the Son of the Living God.
What is truly amazing is that these men shared that tremendous honor in the pages of the Gospels. We are the disciples of Christ, too, and we can learn the same lessons He taught the first twelve through their own words! And the Lord Jesus is near us, too, if we have put our faith in Him. In fact, He is even closer than He was to the disciples when He walked with them on earth. He has sent His Spirit to everyone who believes in Him. Scripture says the Spirit resides in the heart of all who have faith.
The name of the twelve disciples were these:
“Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and his brother John to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him” (Matt. 3:16b-19).
As you hear these names and think about where they came from, it is a pretty amazing list. All of these men were Jewish, but they came from very different parts of the Jewish world.
None of them were members of the religious leadership of Israel. There were no Pharisees, teachers of the Law, or Sadducees. None of them held a seat of power in the Sanhedrin. If God was trying to be strategic according to the world’s terms, these would have been the men to choose. But He didn’t.
Instead, He picked men that had very little to offer Jesus. Four of them were common fishermen. One was a despised tax collector. They had all the wrong credentials, if they had credentials at all. Some of them had reputations that could be seen as a source of shame for a leader. But God looks at the heart. He doesn’t need to harness the reputations of people who are impressive to the world to accomplish His will. He draws His true servants from those who have allowed the deep, sacred things to take place in the quiet places of their souls. Humility. Repentance. Surrender. Gratefulness. Devotion. Often it is those whose lives are not cluttered and preoccupied with the accolades of this world who have the privilege of developing these internal riches. It is a faith that is worth far more than gold.
After Jesus called the twelve disciples, they descended down the mountain. They came to a place where the ground leveled out. Christ looked out and saw the teeming masses of people that were waiting for Him. And they continued to come. They would stay on for days, camping out in Galilee so that they could hear the words of Jesus the next day. His healings had power, but so did His preaching. So Jesus sat down and began to teach them again. His disciples sat near Him, for they were His main students. It would be their job to take His message out to the farthest reaches of the world.