He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, and to have authority to cast out demons. So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Jesus was quite keen on going up mountains. He did it for his great teachings; for the feeding of the 5,000; for his experience of transfiguration; and for his final sending out of the disciples after his resurrection. Perhaps it was the silence, or the isolation, or the big views but clearly mountain tops were a great place for him to pray and think and meet with God. And here a mountain top is a great place for him to have a very special meeting with the twelve.
I wonder how many people work for Manchester United. Trainers, players, learners, caterers, cleaners and car park attendants, there must be hundreds. They are all reds and they all have a part to play, but they are not all out there kicking the ball on a Saturday afternoon. This is a big moment for Jesus. So much so, that in Luke’s account of this story, he spent the whole night in prayer (Lk 6: 12). He is setting up his key team. There will be lots of others involved in the movement; lots of other followers and disciples but these twelve are the core. They will be the first team squad to help him with his work in Galilee, they will follow him on his long march to Jerusalem. More than this however, they will be central to the ongoing mission after his resurrection and ascension. Then they will be called Apostles. They, more than anyone else, will take the Good News message and healing on into history and out to the world.
He is trusting them, depending on them, placing his life and work into their hands, even though one of them is a future traitor. So here are two big questions to think about:
- Why did Jesus entrust so much to so few? Were these few in particular not the right ones? Not quite up to it? What happened when they made mistakes or let him down? Were these few very special, exceptionally gifted or outstandingly talented or were they just very determined, obedient and humble followers of Jesus? And finally am I one of the few in my church, my group or my mission project?
- Is Jesus entrusting anything to me today? Right now, as I read these words, is he somehow placing a trust in me, even depending, on me? Am I up to it? Am I good enough? Am I talented or faithful? Gifted or obedient? And how does it feel to be called by him?
These days when we look out for and appoint people to key positions of ministry and spiritual leadership we usually look for abilities, talents and gifts. In contrast Jesus seemed to look for faithfulness, followership, obedience and willingness to attempt things for him.
As you go up the mountain,
Help me to follow.
As you call,
Help me to respond.
As you trust,
Help me to be worthy.
As you give,
Help me to take,
That I might be the disciple that you would have me be.