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First Galilean Tour Part 9: The Appointment Of The Twelve.

It was beneath the sheltering trees of the mountainside, but a little distance from the Sea of Galilee, that the twelve were called to the apostolate, and the Sermon on the Mount was given.

The fields and hills were the favourite resorts of Jesus, and much of His teaching was given under the open sky, rather than in the temple or the synagogues. No synagogue could have received the throngs that followed Him; but not for this reason only did He choose to teach in the fields and groves. Jesus loved the scenes of nature. To Him each quiet retreat was a sacred temple.

In training His disciples, Jesus chose to withdraw from the confusion of the city to the quiet of the fields and hills, as more in harmony with the lessons of self-abnegation He desired to teach them.

And during His ministry He loved to gather the people about Him under the blue heavens, on some grassy hillside, or on the beach beside the lake. Here, surrounded by the works of His own creation, He could turn the thoughts of His hearers from the artificial to the natural. In the growth and development of nature were revealed the principles of His kingdom.

As men should lift their eyes to the hills of God, and behold the wonderful works of His hands, they could learn precious lessons of divine truth. Christ’s teaching would be repeated to them in the things of nature. So it is with all who go into the fields with Christ in their hearts.

They will feel themselves surrounded with a holy influence. The things of nature take up the parables of our Lord, and repeat His counsels. By communion with God in nature, the mind is uplifted, and the heart finds rest.

The first step was now to be taken in the organization of the church that after Christ’s departure was to be His representative on earth. No costly sanctuary was at their command, but the Saviour led His disciples to the retreat He loved, and in their minds the sacred experiences of that day were forever linked with the beauty of mountain and vale and sea.

Jesus had called His disciples that He might send them forth as His witnesses, to declare to the world what they had seen and heard of Him. Their office was the most important to which human beings had ever been called, and was second only to that of Christ Himself. They were to be workers together with God for the saving of the world. As in the Old Testament the twelve patriarchs stand as representatives of Israel, so the twelve apostles were to stand as representatives of the gospel church.

Mark 3:13  And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. 

Mark 3:14  Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, 

Mark 3:15  and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons: 

Mark 3:16  Simon, to whom He gave the name Peter; 

Mark 3:17  James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom He gave the name Boanerges, that is, “Sons of Thunder”; 

Mark 3:18  Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Cananite; 

Mark 3:19  and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. And they went into a house. 

Mark 3:20  Then the multitude came together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. 

Mark 3:21  But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, “He is out of His mind.” 

Leaving His followers to spend the night at the foot of the mountain (see DA 292), Jesus Himself spent the entire night in prayer at some secluded spot in the hills above them (Luke 6:12). It was now probably the late summer of a.d. 29 (see on Matt. 5:1).

Often Jesus devoted an entire night to prayer (see DA 419). Usually such instances mentioned by the various gospel writers preceded points of decision or crisis in the Saviour’s life or ministry (see on ch. 1:35).

Mark 1:35  Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.

He sought meditation and prayer at the beginning of His ministry (see on Matt. 4:1). Prayer likewise marked the opening of His Galilean ministry and immediately preceded His first missionary tour through the towns and villages of Galilee (see on Mark 1:35).

The night now spent in prayer preceded the ordination of the Twelve, the Sermon on the Mount, and the beginning of the Second Galilean Tour. Prayer is again specifically mentioned in connection with the great crisis in Galilee.

Matthew 14:22  Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 

Matthew 14:23  And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.

John 6:15  Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone. 

The same was true of the Transfiguration, when Jesus presented to three of His disciples the matter of His sufferings and death (Luke 9:28–31).

Luke 9:28  Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 

Luke 9:29  As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. 

The entire night following the Triumphal Entry He devoted to prayer (see DA 581). The longest recorded prayer of Jesus preceded His entrance to the Garden of Gethsemane (see John 17).

And but hours before the crucifixion Jesus offered His most earnest, agonizing prayer in the garden (see Matt. 26:36–44).

Mark 3:13  And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him.

There was a somewhat larger group of followers, from which the Twelve were selected.

None of the Twelve was chosen because of perfection, either in character or in ability. Christ selected men who were willing and able to learn, whose characters might be transformed.

All had serious defects when called, but these, by His grace, were removed (except in the case of Judas), and in their place Jesus planted the precious seeds of the divine character that germinated, grew to maturity, and later produced the fruit of a Christlike character (Gal. 5:22, 23).

Christ takes men where they are, and, if they are willing and submissive, He transforms them into what He would have them be.

He appoints men and women to positions of responsibility, not because He considers them fully prepared for the demands these positions make of them, but because, in reading their hearts, He discerns latent abilities that, under divine guidance, may be encouraged and developed to His glory and to the advancement of His kingdom.

Mark 3:13  And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him.

The call was not based so much on their desire as upon His. Later He reminded the Twelve, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16).

When He summoned them to meet Him, at the first light of dawn (see DA 292; MB 4), somewhere on the slope of the hills overlooking the peaceful waters of Galilee.

Mar 3:14  Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, 

The appointment and ordination of the Twelve was an event of major significance in the mission of Jesus. John the Baptist had proclaimed the imminent establishment of “the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 3:2).

Jesus also repeated this message during the early part of His ministry (see Matt. 4:17)

Matthew 4:17  From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

This was particularly on the First Galilean Tour. The kingdom Christ established at His first advent was the kingdom of divine grace (see on Matt. 3:2; 5:2), whose King He was.

His subjects were those who received Him and believed on His name (see John 1:12). Their hearts were His domain (see on Luke 17:21).

The appointment of the Twelve may well be regarded as the formal inauguration of the kingdom of grace that Christ had come to establish.

The Sermon on the Mount, which followed immediately, may be viewed both as Christ’s inaugural address as King of the kingdom of grace, and as the constitution of the new kingdom.

Soon after the delivery of this sermon Christ, with the Twelve, set out on the Second Galilean Tour, on which, by precept and example, He demonstrated the nature of the kingdom and the scope of its value to man.

Four lists of the Twelve are given, one each by Matthew (ch. 10:2–4) and Mark, and two by Luke, one in his Gospel (ch. 6:14–16) and one in the Acts (ch. 1:13). These are given below.

The most natural method of grouping the Twelve is to divide them into units of two. When Jesus sent them out on the Third Galilean Tour, He sent them out two by two (see Mark 6:7), brother with brother, and friend with friend (DA 350).

Calling the twelve about Him, Jesus bade them go out two and two through the towns and villages. None were sent forth alone, but brother was associated with brother, friend with friend. Thus they could help and encourage each other, counseling and praying together, each one’s strength supplementing the other’s weakness. DA 350

The list of Matthew is probably based on this grouping, for after naming the two pairs of brothers, Peter and Andrew, and James and John, he lists the remainder of the Twelve in groups of two, each two.

He who called the fishermen of Galilee is still calling men to His service. And He is just as willing to manifest His power through us as through the first disciples. However imperfect and sinful we may be, the Lord holds out to us the offer of partnership with Himself, of apprenticeship to Christ. He invites us to come under the divine instruction, that, uniting with Christ, we may work the works of God.



Updated on 26th Oct 2022

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