13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Mark 3:13-19

Although these few verses read as a casual occurrence in Jesus’ life, they constitute one of the most significant moments in His public ministry. According to Luke, He spent the night in prayer before He chose the men to whom He would entrust His friendship, His love and the entire future of His mission on earth. If there were any bad apples in this box, His mission would be in jeopardy.

What about Judas Iscariot? What about Peter, James and John whose characters He knew so well that He gave them nicknames? What hope did He have of molding this diverse mob into disciples – learners and imitators of Himself? How was He going to persuade them that His yoke – gentleness and humility, love compassion and mercy – was more powerful than the yoke of the other rabbis in Israel whom the Pharisees slavishly followed?

Mark mentions His strategy in a single sentence. “The plan was that they would be with Him, and He would send them out to proclaim the Word and give them authority to banish demons.”  Mark 3:14, 15 (The Message). Simple, yet effective! The key was “that they would be with Him”. They would accompany Him day and night. They would listen, watch, follow, copy until His thoughts became their thoughts and His ways became their ways – no easy task as their behaviour, words and questions revealed their ignorance.

Jesus often showed His frustration with them because of their faithlessness and their slowness to learn. But with great patience and infinite love, He gave them opportunity after opportunity to practise what they saw Him doing. He had faith in them even though, at that time, they didn’t seem to merit it. He knew that His Spirit in them would energize all they learned and practised so that they would become powerful imitators of their Rabbi. His call was a simple one. “Follow me,” but held in it a world of possibilities.

Luella Campbell

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