Monday, January 27, 2003

The Choosing and Training of the Twelve

Twelve Men

Shortly after John Baptized Him and just before He announced the good news of the Kingdom of God, Jesus acquired six men as traveling companions. Simon and Andrew were brothers and partners in a fishing venture with brothers James and John. Philip and Nathanael son of Tolmai (i.e. Bartholemew) were good friends (which we infer from their always being mentioned together).

Some time later brothers Matthew and James (both sons of Alphaeus) joined the group. There is reasonable speculation that Thomas was a third brother, and perhaps Judas the son of James was the nephew of Matthew and Thomas.

Given the pairings of family and friends among these ten, perhaps we can speculate that Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot also knew each other before they joined the disciples following Jesus around Galilee.

These are the twelve men that Jesus chose to be His closest disciples and the ones to whom He gave intensive training. They had an extraordinary and enviable opportunity.

Discipleship is a process. Although the gospels depict scenes in which Jesus seemingly walked up and called strangers into His entourage, an examination of all the data shows otherwise. Regardless of such data, to conclude there must be more to the story flows out of common sense. Simon Peter once asked Jesus, “Look, we have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” (Matthew 19:27) It is not likely that these twelve men left homes, jobs, and families without thoughtful consideration. Later, Jesus, Himself, advised potential followers to count the cost:

Now large crowds were accompanying Jesus, and turning to them he said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t sit down first and compute the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish the tower, all who see it will begin to make fun of him. They will say, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish!’ Or what king, going out to confront another king in battle, will not sit down first and determine whether he is able with ten thousand to face the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot succeed, he will send a representative while the other is still a long way off and ask for terms of peace. In the same way therefore not one of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his own possessions. “Salt is good, but if salt loses its flavor, how can its flavor be restored? It is of no value for the soil or for the manure pile; it is to be thrown out. The one who has ears to hear had better listen!” (Luke 14:25-35)

This series is about the choosing and the training of these twelve men. It will tell the whole story of the choosing of Peter and his friends. It will draw comparisons between some of the disciples to show the diversity of the group. And then it will turn to “Kingdom Leadership Training” whereby Jesus took this band of men and used them to change the world.

Tomorrow: Peter's First Call

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