Lesson 47—December 28, 2014
The Twelve Apostles
Scripture: Mark 3:13-19; Matthew 10:2-4; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:3.
To better understand Jesus’ choosing of His twelve apostles.
In his book The Words & Works of Jesus Christ, Dwight Pentecost writes:
Matthew noted that this ministry to those multitudes who had come from outside the land of Israel was a fulfilment of Isaiah 42:1-4. Isaiah’s prophecy portrayed a Messiah who would be God’s chosen Servant whom God loved and in whom He found delight. This servant would be empowered by the Holy Spirit of God and would proclaim a message to Gentiles. The Messiah would not be quarrelsome or vengeful. He would minister gently to people. He would cause justice to triumph. The Gentile
nations would turn to Him in faith and put their hope in Him. Matthew observed these peoples who came from the surrounding nations to Christ. Matthew listened as He taught them and watched as He performed miracles to heal and deliver them. Matthew could not escape the truth that this One was God’s approved Messiah in whom God delighted. This One was doing God’s work as God Himself would do it. The nations of the world would benefit from Messiah’s compassionate, gentle, merciful ministry.
As we come to this phase in Jesus’ ministry and mission, it is very easy to discern the two growing responses. One response is that of conflict, opposition and rejection. The other is a response of faith and acceptance. One important truth concerning those who are coming to Jesus is that there are people from many areas and nations coming to Him, not just from Israel.
In today’s lesson, the crowds around Jesus continue to grow, and He once again withdraws from them—this time to the mountain. While there, Jesus begins to minister especially to His disciples. He begins the preparation they will need as they go forth to share the gospel and to minister. Jesus would teach these men great truths and lessons about the Kingdom of God. While on this mountain, Jesus shared His greatest message which we refer to as the Sermon on the Mount. Mark, in his writing, gives us little information about this sermon or teaching. It is Matthew who gives us the greatest content and detail concerning this time in Jesus’ life. During the next several weeks of our Life Focus class study, we will turn our attention primarily to Matthew and Luke, as they help us understand the lessons on the mountain. Before we move to these sections, we continue in Mark 3:13.
We read in Mark 3:13 that Jesus went up on the mountain, but Luke 6:12 tells us that Jesus had gone “to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” This helps us to understand the importance of what Jesus was about to do. Jesus was choosing the Twelve from among the multitudes of His followers in order to commission them as apostles who would be sent out to fulfill a mission.
• What can we learn from Jesus about making important decisions in our lives?
• Before selecting the twelve as apostles, Jesus prayed all night long; what is the greatest length of time you have ever spent in prayer? Circle the closest to your answer.
(a) one hour
(b) less than 15 minutes
(c) more than one hour.
Beginning today at 4:00 pm, our church family will be in continuous prayer for 80 hours, concluding at midnight on December 31. We are asking individuals (adults and teenagers), couples, families to take a
one-hour time slot. During these hours of prayer, we will pray for one another; we will prayer for our church family and community; we will pray for the needs of our homes, families and marriages; we will pray for all needs as God places them upon our hearts.
This time of prayer can be a personal refreshing and renewing time in your own life. Many who have taken part in past prayer times have experienced the power of God in wonderful ways. For some, it has brought transformation and forgiveness. For others, it has been the start to a deeper and fuller fellowship with Jesus Christ. May I ask you to take an hour and see what God wants to do in your life through a time of prayer?
As a new year dawns, may our church family be found in prayer. May prayer always be the launching pad for everything we do. May our knees become calloused as we take the posture of a warrior. Luke tells us that Jesus prayed all night before selecting His apostles. If prayer was that important to Jesus, should it not also be important for His followers?
(V14) These twelve men were called “apostles.” The word apostle is taken from the Greek word apostolos meaning “messenger.” These men were being commissioned by Jesus to carry forth His message. They would form the closest circle around Him. There would be many disciples of Jesus, but into these twelve Jesus would pour out His investment of time, energy, and personal training. These men would hear Him, eat with Him, travel with Him and witness His ministry. They were the nucleus through which Jesus would proclaim good news to the nations.
A point to note—In two short years, Jesus would mold these twelve into the leaders of the faith. Following His resurrection, He would empower them with the Holy Spirit and send them out to the ends of the earth to be His witnesses. Although all shared the calling of Jesus and the potential for world-changing, satan would find opportunity to work even among these men. Satan would infiltrate the heart of one of these twelve leading to his betrayal of Jesus.
Verses fourteen and fifteen tell us three purposes Jesus had for these twelve chosen men. Warren W. Wiersbe lays out these three purposes in The Wiersbe Bible Commentary:
1) Jesus would personally train them.
2) He would send them out to preach the gospel, and
3) He gave them authority to heal and to cast out demons.
Mark, along with Matthew and Luke, gives us a list of names of this twelve. Looking at the lists, it appears that there are three groups of
four men. Peter’s name is always mentioned first and Judas Iscariot
is last. Please read Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16 and Acts 1:13.
• What difference did you notice about the list in Acts 1:13?
These twelve men are remarkable examples of God’s love and grace. Each of them had their own background and stories of life. When we dig into the nuggets of their lives, we find some wonderful truths that can minister to our lives today. Before we move into the study of the Sermon on the Mount, let us take time to get to know these twelve apostles a little better.
• What do you know about each of these?
James of Alphaeus
Simon the Cananite