Today’s Reading: Matthew 12:15-21; Mark 3:7-19; Luke 6:12-19
Jesus went out to the lake with his disciples and a large crowd followed him. They came from all over Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, from east of the Jordan River, and even from as far as Tyre and Sidon. The news about his miracles had spread far and wide, and vast numbers of people came to see him. – Mark 3:7-8
Word was spreading of Jesus’ healing power and people were bringing their sick from all over the region. Everywhere Jesus went, large crowds followed. Some were genuinely seeking to follow Christ and some were only there to see this great physician or magician – to see Jesus do something great, but not to do something great for Jesus.
Jesus touched many lives as these massive crowds formed, but his focus was to invest more deeply in the lives of twelve. But first, he pulled away from the crowds and found time to be alone with His Father.
One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles. Here are their names:
Simon (whom he called Peter),
Andrew (Peter’s brother),
James (Son of Alphaeus),
Simon (who was called the zealot)
Judas (son of James),
Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him). – Luke 6:12-16
After spending an extended amount of time in God’s presence and in prayer, Jesus called all of his followers together and distinguished between those who would be disciples and those who would be the twelve apostles. Don’t miss that he made this decision AFTER going to the Father in prayer.
We often use these terms “disciples” and “apostles” interchangeably so I thought I would look to see what the difference is. According to the NLT Study Bible I am using, disciples were students and followers while apostles were SPECIALLY COMMISSIONED representatives. I would argue that today we are all both disciples and apostles.
To be a disciple of Christ is to be a student or a follower. God has called us all to be students of the Word, to sit at His feet regularly and learn from Him. We spend time reading the Bible and we walk away with new understanding. His word is living and active and we cannot help but be changed by studying the Scriptures. We have so much to learn and we have a Great Teacher who loves His students.
We also learn by listening to other students of the Word or disciples. What a great investment of our time to read a book written by another follower of Christ or to listen to the preaching of another! We listen and call on the Spirit to discern the truth of the message, allowing our hearts to grow and be transformed through the words God is giving those He has called. When I question something I am reading or hearing, God’s word is the foundation of truth that I go back to each time.
Even pastors and preachers benefit from spending time listening to others and reading. With that comes a humility that God calls all of us to. We have not already arrived. We do not know all there is to know. We desperately need to keep learning, to continue increasing our understanding of God’s ways.
So we are all disciples but I would argue that we are also all apostles. If the definition of apostle is a person who is specially commissioned to represent something or someone then that is absolutely what we are. God has chosen every one of us for a specific purpose today. He has a plan and we have a choice. We can walk into that plan with the willingness to represent Jesus and fulfill His purpose for our day or we can focus on our own desires and plans.
Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” – Matthew 9:35-39
Lord, this morning I pray that you would open up my heart and show me your purpose today. Confirm in my heart what you have called me to do. Remind me WHO I have been SPECIALLY COMMISSIONED to represent. God, I open up my life with a willingness today to be used by you, whether in small ways or large. Today is about you and your plan. Teach me. Show me. Use me. Guide me. Amen.
Show me the right path, O LORD;
point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you (Psalm 25:4-5).