Mark 3:13 (Jesus) went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, 15 and to have authority to cast out demons. 16 So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
There are a number of things that I find interesting in this passage, but I’ll focus on three of them:
1) v.13 begins with “Jesus went up the mountain…”. Why did he go up the mountain? Because he needed to get some distance from the enormous crowds following him as he preached the Kingdom of God, then demonstrated the Kingdom by healing people and casting out demons. When people discern the presence of God, it does tend to draw a crowd. Something for the church to remember.
2) Jesus sought guidance in prayer before he acted. He didn’t go with his gut in selecting his team, but created space to prayerfully discern the will of God the Father first. How often do you prayerfully seek guidance from God before making critical decisions? I don’t always do this – and as a pastor I should know better. Something for me to pray about today.
3) These twelve persons are named “apostles” in v.14, but they were mostly bumbling disciples first. They made lots and lots of mistakes. Jesus even had doubts from time to time if these were the right people. But God’s grace took hold over time and, despite their many shortcomings, they did ultimately live into their calling. But it didn’t happen quickly and it wasn’t always pretty. Something else for us to remember the next time we fall short of who we’re called to be. God’s grace abounds, dear sisters and brothers. God’s grace abounds.
Heavenly Father, we all want to be more like your Son Jesus, but often look more like the early disciples – falling short of our calling. Give us grace to never give up on you, even when we want to give up on ourselves. And teach us to seek your will along the way, as Jesus did. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.