Summary: Twelve Men Who Followed Jesus - the Disciples

Tyndale Publishing is synonymous with American publishing successes of the 20th Century. But few who read the thousands of literary works put out by that company know that the name Tyndale is associated with martyr William Tyndale (1492-1536). Did you know that William Tyndale is credited with pioneering a translation of God’s Word into English? Tyndale thought it was wrong that the common man could only receive God’s Word in Latin. The “Pharisees stranglehold” over the people was secure as long as the Bible stayed in that ancient language.

Ecclesiastical power continued from the biblical days of the Pharisees into the 1500’s when the Church was forced to deal with revolutionaries like Tyndale who, against Church authority, published the New Testament into English. Finding an advocate in Germany named Luther, Tyndale published the Greek New Testament into English in 1526. His reward for such an effort? Upon completion of the New English Translation William Tyndale smuggled the Bible into England. He was captured and rewarded with excommunication, exile, and in 1535 death through strangulation and his body burned at the stake. In his final words he prayed, “…that God would open the eyes of the King of England.”1

What drove this Englishman to disobey the Church in his clandestine efforts to give us an English translation? One of the main reasons Tyndale was motivated to translate the scripture into the common language was a survey of English clergy that revealed, “…that most of the clergy in England did not even know who the twelve apostles were.”2 Have times really changed that much?

The first pages of a book are usually a credit or acknowledgment by author thanking editors, appreciating spouses who gave up time, and crediting mentors who inspired the book. Then comes the preface or introduction to the book, a brief overview highlighting the theme of and the motive behind the author’s effort. For instance, James D. Kennedy says in What If the Bible Had Never Been Written?, “The purpose of this book is to set the record straight.” And Max Lucado says in In the Grip of Grace, “My only qualification for writing a book on grace is the clothing I wear.”

Introductions to books serve to whet the appetite, stir the heart, motivate the reader, and expose the motive. That which is true of the introduction of a book is certainly my agenda for this first message, “Twelve Who Followed Jesus.”

I hope to whet your appetite, so you will think about and apply the insights during the week, even though it is summer. I want to stir your heart, forcing you to not miss a single sermon over the next several weeks. Often, the one we miss is the very one we needed most. Ouch!

Perhaps this study will motivate you to read some of the books in the End Notes. Finally, my motive is clear - to produce fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

Let’s jump into a boat belonging to Peter and Andrew, push out from shore, and drop our nets and see what we catch from our first message - an introduction to the Twelve Men Who Followed Jesus.

The Twelve

Jesus chose twelve to follow Him and demonstrate that God deals in potential - not perfection, power or the proud.

20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1 Corinthians 1:20 - NIV)

It all starts with that opening statement - “Jesus chose twelve to follow Him.”

We make thousands of decisions every day. You’ve heard it said, “The decision you make, will one day make you.” What strategies do you use for those selections? Do you draw straws? Play rock-paper-scissors? Or do you toss a coin? My kids say, “Dad, that’s old school! That’s dark age stuff.” But when it comes to discipleship it all starts with selection.

Before the masses grew and the crowds learned, Jesus took some time to select a group of leaders, or disciples. This is one of the landmark moments in Gospel history. Why is this approach so vital to Jesus’ ministry? Jesus wasn’t interested in impressing the masses; he wanted a group of men that the masses would follow.

Jesus’ plan was to select some key men who would be with Him at all times and in all places. To accomplish this, Jesus had to find men who were available. Starting with Peter and Andrew, we see several followers of Christ whose lives were barnacled to the routine of fishing and filleting. The world of these Christ-followers revolved around the quiet of the sea and crowds of the market.

Then Jesus called them, “Come follow me!” And they broke loose from fish and family to leaving and learning. Matthew 4:18-20, offers a remarkable picture of the immediacy of this life transition - “and they immediately left their nets.”

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