Mark 3:13-19 “Jesus’ Apostles-Twelve Men Who Changed the World”
Mark 3:13-19 “Jesus’ Apostles-Twelve Men Who Changed the World” Sunday 7 November 1999 AM
I. The Twelve
II. Christ Chooses, Calls and Appoints
III. Discipleship Is Separation and Obedience
IV. The Task of the Disciples
Introduction: In the last couple of hundred years who would you nominate as a person who changed the world? For good or bad, who are the world changers? Politicians, philosophers, theologians, generals, artists, educators, scientists, businessmen- people who have greatly changed our world….
The Bible is full of important people whom God used to change the world. And that is, by the way, how God works; He uses people, ordinary people, to do His work, to change His world. Ordinary people like you and me, ordinary people the like twelve men from Galilee.
We are returning to Mark’s Gospel this morning in our verse by verse study of this short, action packed Gospel written to the people in the Church at Rome and to the unbelievers. Many believe that Mark was the first of the Gospels written and that Matthew and Luke used Mark as a reference, quoting him extensively.
So far in our study we have seen that Mark is showing us the conflict between Jesus and various forces including Satan and even the wild animals, the demonic forces, disease, and the leaders of the Jews. He is also showing us the radical nature of the Gospel, the call to repentance and faith, the demands of discipleship.
This morning we will look at the twelve apostles. We will see that it is Christ who chooses, calls and appoints, and the obedient disciples are set apart to be with Jesus and have tasks to which they are called. Today we will look at Twelve Men Who Changed the World and we will ask ourselves if we have answered the call to discipleship, have we accepted the challenge to be “World Changers”?
I. The Twelve.
Who were these men? What is their significance? Is there any symbolism here?
There are three lists of the apostles in the Gospels (Matt 10:2-4; Luke 6:14-16) then in Acts 1:13 is the list minus Judas Iscariat. In each list Simon Peter leads the list and Judas Iscariat is at the end. MacArthur writes, “The twelve are always listed in a similar order. Peter is always named first. The list contains 3 groups of 4. The 3 subgroups are always listed in the same order, and the first name in each subgroup is always the same, though there is some variation in the order within the subgroups- but Judas Iscariot is always named last.” Simon is the recognized spokesman of the group who denied Christ, and Judas is the one who betrayed Christ. That the group is bracketed with men who failed ought to show us how frail and sinful we are indeed, but it should also give us hope that Christ calls even those whom He knows will fail. There are no superheroes here except Christ; the rest of us are but jars of clay.
Warren Wiersbe notes (p.120) that the names are arranged in pairs when you examine all three lists: the brothers Simon Peter and Andrew, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew (Nathaniel in John 1:45), Thomas who is called Didymous or the Twin (John 11:16) and Matthew (Levi), James the son of Alphaeus and Thaddeus (also known as Lebbaeus in Matthew and Judas the son of James in Luke and in John 14:22), Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot are the last pair. Jesus did send them out two by two in Luke 10 with the 72.
J.D. Jones, writing in 1914, says, “I am greatly struck by the diversity and variety both of temperament and of gift that I find amongst them….Each of these temperaments had its representative amongst the twelve: the Sanguine in the impulsive Peter; the Choleric in the Sons of Thunder; the Phlegmatic in the slow and prosaic Philip; and the Melancholic in doubting Thomas. Here you have diversity of gifts- Peter the man of action; John the soaring mystic; Andrew the man of practical common sense; and Matthew the man of literary aptitudes. Here too, you find deep seated difference of political feeling. … There were two men in the Apostolate between whom in the old days there existed a political hate….These two men were Matthew and Simon the Zealot. Matthew had taken service with the hated Roman government; Simon had taken up arms against it. To Simon, Matthew was an apostate and a renegade and a traitor. And yet Matthew the publican and Simon the Zealot are in the Apostolate side by side.”
We can learn from this list of Apostles that Jesus calls men from all kinds of backgrounds: working class, entrepreneurs, government bureaucrats, etc. The Savior loves all kinds of men. The Savior’s call is a unifying factor that outweighs our natural and unnatural differences. The Lord uses folks of very different talents, gifts, and abilities; in the King’s service there is a task and a calling for all of us; in our diversity there is a greater unity.
Mark gives us this list of the twelve very soon after he mentions the beginning of the plot by the Pharisees to kill Jesus. This shows that after official Judaism had rejected their Messiah Jesus chooses twelve men who represent the twelve tribes of Israel showing the beginning of the New Israel. Rev. 21:14 “The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”
II. Christ Chooses, Calls and Appoints.
Jesus called to Him those He wanted. Here we see that after a time of public ministry Jesus is calling a select group to himself, probably the 72, (Luke 6:13 “When morning came He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles”). We have already seen in Mark the call of Simon and Andrew, James, John and Matthew. But there was a larger group of dedicated followers and now Jesus chooses the twelve.
We see that it is the Lord himself who does the choosing, he does not plead for volunteers, he does not take just anyone, he takes those whom he has been given from the Father according to John 6:37,44 “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away….No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” John 17:6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.”
One area that the church of today consistently gets wrong is the idea of volunteerism instead of the biblical idea of calling. We ask for volunteers, we plead for people to help in various capacities, we recruit people, we hire people to do jobs that could be done by members; but we have lost the doctrine of calling by God. The doctrine of the priesthood of believers has been a Baptist distinctive for centuries but we have very subtly forsaken this doctrine by adopting a worldly view that brings a lot of corporate America into the church. We are not a volunteer organization, the church is the community of the called, the chosen.
Are you serving because you volunteered, because there was a need in the church that nobody else would do? Or are you serving for the joy of pleasing the Lord who called you to the task you are serving at?
Jesus appointed twelve- designating them apostles. There were the followers of Jesus, the disciples, the 72, but Jesus appointed the Twelve for a higher calling and task. In the Kingdom of God there are a variety of positions and callings, the twelve apostles and their office were unique in the church. Apostles were the designated witnesses of Christ, his resurrection, and were his messengers of the good news. They had a unique authority and their works included many miracles. Some charismatics today say that the office of apostle has been restored and that there are modern day apostles with even greater powers and authority than the original twelve. One of these so-called apostles, Rick Joyner, has written a book in which he claims to have a conversation with Paul who told him that He (Rick Joyner) has a higher calling than even Paul, and a deeper understanding of the things of God. How proud and presumptuous we are today!
There is no room in the body of Christ for pride or envy. I cannot be envious of those ministers who have a higher calling than I. The responsibilities I have I should not be proud of and exalt myself against others who have lesser responsibilities. Callings and responsibilities do not equate into one member of the body being more valuable or important to God than any one else. In Christ we are all equal before him in his holiness. We are all sinners saved by grace.
III. Discipleship Is Separation and Obedience.
The disciples were called up to a mountain. There is a very real sense of being called out of the world to Christ. Remember when Jesus called Peter and Andrew, James and John, how they left their boats and nets immediately when Jesus called. The one who would answer the call of Christ must be willing to leave behind his own ambitions, worldly things, and sins, and be separated unto Christ.
The word for holy means separate from, distinct, set aside for a higher purpose. We are called to be disciples and to separate ourselves from the love of this world.
There are two dangers in regards to separation for disciples today. One is that we separate from the world so much that we become too heavenly minded for any earthly good. Here we neglect our mission to carry the gospel to the world. Here we have retreated from the world so much that we have no common ground with the lost people around us and our message is so foreign that we cannot effectively communicate. The other danger of separation is that we are not separated from the world much at all; we are not just in the world- the world is in us. This is the more common problem today. Instead of being on the mountain with Jesus (note the similarity with God calling Moses up the mountain) we are down in the camp falling into the sins of the world.
The disciples answered the call of Jesus to go up the mountain to be with him. Obedience is the key to discipleship for it is in obedience that we show our love for our saviour; faith without obedience is a spurious faith. John 14:21 says, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.”
IV. The Tasks of Disciples
The first task mentioned is “that they might be with Him”. The apostles, the Twelve, were to be with Jesus. They would be taught by him; to them he revealed the mysteries of the parables. The countless hours of conversation, of questions and answers would be invaluable. Through the centuries there have been many who sought to be with Jesus in a deeper way. The monasteries and convents, the hermits and pilgrims, the mystics and the scholars all sought Jesus intensely.
When I read of the saints of old and even of the ordinary believers during times of general revival, I see people who spend enormous time on a daily basis with Jesus. Time in the Word, prayer, meditation, who memorized vast amounts of scripture and read many godly books, who journaled- writing down their spiritual progress. This was before electric washing machines, dishwashers, and microwaves. All our modern day labor saving devices have not freed us up to seek Jesus more, we are more enslaved by the hectic pace of the modern world. One of the great failures of the modern church is that we do not spend great amounts of time with our Lord. For most people, attending church once a week is all they feel they need.
Do you have a deep longing in your soul for more time to be with Jesus? Are you frustrated with your sinful inability to maximize your time with the Lord? Do you hunger for more of God? I have a growing longing for heaven so that I can spend my time pursuing and knowing God.
But the next thing Jesus called the 12 for was that he might send them out to preach. Like Peter on the mount of transfiguration who wanted to stay and build booths, many people in the church simply want to be inward focused; they want to stay in the comfort of the four walls of the church. There is the tendency in some to be so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good, as I said earlier. We can be so enthralled with worship and discipleship that we lose our evangelistic imperative.
We cannot withdraw from the world, though we are not of the world, and the world should not be in us, yet we should be in the world carrying the message of the gospel everywhere we go. If Jesus called us the salt of the earth, we need to get out of the saltshaker and into the stew of this world. We fool ourselves into thinking that if we invite the world to come to church we have done our duty. We must take the church to the world; bring biblical principles, a biblical worldview into our world.
The next thing Jesus told his 12 was “and to have authority to drive out demons.” Now the apostles had supernatural gifts and power from the Holy Spirit that we do not have in the same degree or kind today. So what can we gain from this for our lives today?
Eph 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” We today are still engaged in spiritual warfare in the form of assaulting the ungodliness of our age wherever we find it. In the business world we can operate with integrity as we seek to conduct our business for the glory of God. We can fight against greed, deception, and lies. In education we can serve as teachers and bring our biblical worldview against the secular humanist view. As Christian citizens we ought to vote with a biblical perspective.
Conclusion: Have you responded to the call of Christ upon your life? Have you answered Jesus and obeyed by ascending the mount to be with Christ? Are you actively spending time with Him each day, are you growing in Christ? Are you engaged in witnessing, proclaiming the gospel? Are you bringing your biblical faith into every area of your life?