Summary: This message was preached at the ordination of a person into the ministry. It is a challenge to church and pastor.
Appointed an Apostle
Very soon into Jesus’ public ministry he began to gather around him persons who wanted to learn more of his way. Among the many who followed him, there were twelve that he called into a special relationship with him. We often call these the 12 disciples.
However, there were others that were also his disciples: Mary Magdalene, Joseph of Armaithiea, Nicodemus, etc.
Though we often sing, There Were 12 Disciples, the Twelve were in actuality more than disciples. We see that here in the passage before us.
Twelve of Jesus’ disciples were called and appointed or designated apostles.
There is a difference between disciple and apostle.
Disciple means follower and learner, somewhat like student.
Apostle refers to one who has been commissioned as an official representative and sent forth on a particular mission.
The Bible does not really have recorded for us an ordination service. We have several events that lay a foundation for what we today call ordination.
Here in Mark 3 (and the parallels in Matthew and Luke) were 12 of Jesus many disciples (learners, followers) are appointed apostles (representatives).
In Acts 13:1-3 when the church “set apart” Paul and Barnabas as their missionaries to new lands.
In 1 Timothy 4:14, in a reference to the body of elders laying hands on timothy and commissioning him for a specific work through a prophetic utterance.
What we do in the ordination service is much the same as what Jesus did here in Mark 4. From among the many who are called into a discipleship relationship to Jesus—from this body—a few are called forward into leadership as representatives and are thus commissioned or appointed to specific ministry.
We do not normally, in our tradition, refer to these persons as apostles—nor should we—but this is the foundation for our act here today.
There two ways this word is used in Scripture:
First, in the sense of an Apostolic Office that was unique to the first century. One of the requirements, according to Acts 1:21-22, was having been an eyewitness to the life of Jesus.
You might think of this as the capital “A” use of the word.
Second, apostle is also used in Scripture in a more general sense to designate persons set apart by the church into a recognized area of ministry. For example, Epaphoditus (Philp. 2:25).
You might think of this as the small “a” use of the word.
I do not imply that a person when ordained becomes an apostle in this unique NT sense. Rather, that in the sense of being set apart by the church for official ministry.
I believe the call that Jesus laid upon the life of the twelve is instructive for us today, especially those of us called into leadership within the body of Christ.
JESUS CALLED THE TWELVE TO TWO CLEAR PURPOSES OR TASKS.
These two purposes are true of our calling as leaders today.
Just two things.
Out of all the responsibilities that leading a church brings to our platter today, we must continually go back to these two basic things and insure that they never get lost in the press of contemporary responsibilities.