Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.
My friend and college dorm mate, Phil Nichols, was the first and only Assemblies of God chaplain to lose his life on a battlefield.
During the Vietnam War, Phil had bivouacked with his troops one evening and in the early morning hours an explosion took the lives of all the men in the company.
I flew from Springfield, Missouri, to Kalispell, Montana, for his funeral service. I really didn’t know what to say. How can you explain or interpret a sorrow like this to his widow and three young children?
The call of the twelve disciples came to my mind, and I saw it in a whole new way. The call had three elements: to be with Jesus, to preach, and to cast out demons.
It struck me that the last two are earth-related and not eternal. There is no need to preach in heaven since everyone is saved, and there certainly are no demons. But the first call—to be with Him—lasts for time and eternity.
That’s true for us all. One day we will step outside time and space. The question is this: “Whose arms will you step into?”
The Lord Jesus waits on the other side for all who believe in Him. So the first thing the Lord always does is call us to be with Him. He is more concerned with your presence than your activity. He is first concerned with who you are before He is concerned with what you do.
It is also fascinating to compare Matthew’s account of the calling of the Twelve with Mark’s. The other Gospels add some details.
Matthew notes the call came after Jesus had said the harvest was plentiful but the workers were few. Therefore, He asked them to pray for laborers (Matthew 9:37-38). Luke tells us that Jesus spent the whole night in prayer before he named the Twelve as apostles (Luke 6:12).
I have always wondered what factors led Jesus to select the Twelve from the many who followed Him. I suspect we have the answer—prayer.
Jesus had asked them to pray. Then He spent the night in prayer. Isn’t it likely that the Twelve were the ones from the many who actually did what the Lord had requested? My guess is that they were the ones who prayed.
It’s the same today. Jesus wants workers in His harvest fields. Whom will He send? Those who pray!
Finally, this passage marks a graduation of sorts. The disciples began the transition to being apostles. That is the new name given them for the first time. Disciples follow and apostles are sent. Jesus gave them a new status before they have even earned it. Just as salvation is by grace, so our vocation of ministry also stems from grace.
The transition from following to leading took some time for that original group of disciples, just as it takes us time to grow into the full measure of stature and maturity in Christ. But as we follow and stay close to Him, we grow into all the potential He has designed us for!
A Prayer: Lord Jesus, today again I re-enlist as Your follower. Thank You for giving me the greatest honor: to be with You now and forever. Thank You also for the responsibility You give me as You send me to witness for You by word and deed.
Excerpted from Dr. Wood’s book, Fearless: How Jesus Changes Everything, available from Vital Resources.