Summary: Jesus drew from the same raw materials that He draws from today when He calls men and women to be His disciples. In this series, we are looking at each of the Twelve as in-depth as we can, based upon what we can know and discern from the Scripture.
We return once again to the 10th Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. We have been absent from this study for a time, so I want to review for a moment what we have discovered so far in this section of our study.
We began looking at the men that Jesus commissioned that day to begin sharing the gospel of His coming. This is where the learners become the doers, where the Disciples become the Apostles (the sent-out ones). This is the pivotal point in their lives, just as it is in our own lives when we arrive at the point when it is time for us to do with and for others what has been done with and for us.
From followers to leaders, these twelve men are taking on new and challenging risks – risks like they have never taken before. As we will see in their commissioning, they are to take next to nothing with them, relying on the grace of God and the grace that those who love God will share with them. Where all of them have been self-reliant and able to survive and thrive in the world, they are being asked by Jesus to set aside what they know and the strengths they think they have. They are to become more dependent on walking by faith than they ever have imagined they would. They are ready, whether they realize it or not. They have been prepared, and now it is time to do.
In a book entitled "Quiet Talks on Service", written by a man named Dr. S. D. Gordon, a fantasy is painted for is that is strikingly poignant and says much. Dr. Gordon shows Jesus walking down the golden streets of heaven. He has just returned from earth in His ascension. All heaven is eager to greet Him and welcome Him, and the first to rush up in excitement and greet Him is Gabriel. They have known each other forever, it seems, and these two companions of old walk and arm in arm along those streets of golden. Gabriel – curious – engages Jesus in a conversation that (in the fantasy) goes something like this:
"Master, You died for the whole world down there, did You not?"
"You have suffered much."
"Yes," the Lord said. "
And do they all know what You did for them?" replied Gabriel.
"Oh, no...no; only a few in Palestine know about it so far."
Gabriel replies, "Well, Master, what’s Your plan? What have You done about telling the world that You died for them, that You shed Your blood for all of them? What is your plan?" Gabriel waited expectantly, anticipating a grandiose plan – along the lines of the Creation itself.
And Jesus answered, "Well, I asked Peter and James and John and Andrew and a few other fellows to make it the business of their lives to tell others. And then the ones that they tell could tell others, and then the ones that they tell could tell others, and the ones that they tell could tell others, and on and on and finally it would reach to the farthest corner of the earth and all would know the thrill and power and blessing of the gospel."
And Gabriel is said to have replied, "But suppose Peter fails? Suppose after awhile that John just doesn’t tell anybody? What if James and Andrew are ashamed or afraid? What if the rest of them simply chicken out? What then?"
To which Jesus replies, "Gabriel, I haven’t made any other plans. I’m counting totally on them."
This, again, is a fantasy conversation, but one we can well imagine could take place, for that is just what Jesus did – He made the spreading of the Good News of the coming of the Savior dependent upon the faithfulness and dedication of twelve men from a little, backwater country in the middle of the world. He trained them, He prepared them, He equipped, them, He authorized them, and then He empowered them – the rest was up to them.
These twelve men are part of the foundation of the Church – the apostles and the prophets – as Paul states in Ephesians 2:20. It is these men who are the pattern for the rest of us to observe and follow. Despite their failings, they are men of virtue and strength. Despite their weaknesses, they are the men Jesus chose to reveal the deepest mysteries of God to in order that they would pass them on to those of us who would believe down through the ages. From these men, along with the Apostle Paul, we get our understanding of God, the person and mission of Jesus Christ, the composition of the Body of Christ, as well as its place in God’s plan. From them, also, we see what it is for each of us to know and live in obedience to the Word and the will of Jesus Christ.