Luke shares with us today the names of Jesus’ full complement of disciples. These men were also the first Apostles. Jesus Himself called them to this office.
Jesus has been ministering to the people for some time. His fame has spread far and wide and He is inundated with people seeking His help. He is more than happy to help all those who come to Him, but in His physical form He is limited. The God side of Him has unlimited resources, love, and knowledge of each individual’s need. The human side of Him has limited time, presence, and physical strength to meet with every person. The needs of the people are so great that Jesus needs help physically meeting them.
Jesus also knows that His time here on earth is limited. He has to establish a second line of authority BEFORE He leaves. He can’t leave this important task to the last minute. He needs time to teach, equip, “test drive”, and refine whomever He puts in place.
This is where His disciples come in. These will be the men who physically assist Jesus in reaching all of the people. They will also be His second in command when He leaves for His home. They will be responsible for taking Jesus’ message to the rest of the world. They are also charged with caring for the church, which was birthed at Jesus’ resurrection. The people didn’t start assembling then but that was when the first fruits of Jesus’ labor began.
Jesus couldn’t trust this job to anybody who happened to answer the “job notice.” The ones He chose had to be picked very carefully. What better way to choose than to talk with His Father about it. Luke tells us that Jesus spent all night in prayer with God before naming His successors. The two of them probably talked over each and every man who was following Jesus until they settled on the best men for the job. I started to say “the perfect group” but these men were far from that. They were human in every conceivable fashion. They made plenty of mistakes while He was with them and many more after being left in charge upon His departure.
I think one of the requirements was being fallible. If any of the disciples thought they were perfect, they would have been unteachable. Jesus wanted men He could mold into His image. Those who would believe with their whole heart what Jesus was sharing with them.
After spending all night with His Father, Jesus calls these men forward to join Him. He called three sets of brothers; Simon Peter and Andrew, James and John, and Philip and Nathaniel (also called Bartholomew here). He also calls Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas the son of James, and finally Judas Iscariot. These were the men that Jesus says later that the Father gave them to Him. They were a gift from God to His Son to help Him in His ministry.
I’m sure Jesus and God both knew from the beginning that Judas was going to betray Jesus, but he was chosen right along with the others. He was not treated differently from any of Jesus other disciples. I’m sure He was loved just as much too. No one but Judas and Jesus ever suspected anything was different about him. Judas was important to Jesus’ mission so he was included along with the others.
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your example on how to make big decisions. You made this momentous decision in conjunction with Your Father. You modeled for me the turning over of important decisions to God. He knows beginning and end of every issue. I can trust Him to lead me in His perfect path. I know this doesn’t guarantee smooth sailing. It certainly wasn’t in Jesus case. But I know You work out what is best when I come to You. Thank You Father for all of the times You have steered me in the right direction. Thank You that I can trust You to have already made plans for my life and that You work them out every day. I don’t always understand where You are taking me, and I don’t always like where we are going but I am CERTAIN that where we go is best for me. I am looking forward to the end of this journey but I’m also enjoying the trip along the way. Thanks for choosing me to be one of Your children. Remind me always to pray for Your direction.