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The Disciples of Jesus #1


Calling, College, Credentials.

Text. Matthew 10:1-4

Matthew is very methodical. In chapter nine, where we have spent a couple of weeks, we have seen his ministry beginning to attract the attention of the enemies of the gospel, and we have read about the first stirrings of the Pharisees against him, united in a plot with some of the disciples of John to question the religious actions of his disciples, accusing them of not being good enough Jews, trying through that accusation to undermine the teaching ministry of Jesus, – implying that he’s not teaching his disciples well enough, not properly disciplining them. In chapter 10, Jesus begins to prepare his disciples for ministry. Before we see his special instructions, his teaching on their ministry, lets see how he chooses and calls them…

1. Calling. And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples.
He called his disciples. What kind of call? Did he shout for them, ‘Hey, Peter, James and John, – come on over here, I’ve something I need to tell you…’. I think this ‘calling of the disciples’ is much more significant and meaningful than that. προσκαλεσαμενος. It’s the suffix, the ending of that complicated word that intrigues me. It’s an imperative. It’s more than a request or even a command, its a summons. When he called them, they were compelled to come, it was non negotiable. They came, because God’s sovereign will dictated that they would come to Jesus and serve him.

Let’s see,

  • Why did he call them? Haven’t they already been ‘called?’ Eg.
    • Peter, who was called by Jesus while he was working with his brother, Andrew, casting a net into the sea. Jesus promised that if they followed him, he would make them fishers of men. They followed him immediately. Matthew 4:18.
    • James and John, The same day as Peter and Andrew were called, Jesus called two other brothers, James and John, who were also fishermen, ashore, mending their nets. They too immediately left their nets and their father Zebedee’s business, and followed Jesus. Matthew 4:21.
    • Philip, John 1:43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. 44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
    • Matthew the son of Alphaeus was sitting at his tax booth, when Jesus called him, saying simply, ‘Follow me!’ and he rose from his rather dubious business practices, and followed Jesus. Mark 3:14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,
    • Paul, of course was on the road to Damascus when he encountered the risen Christ, the last person to see him, – and of course he was called to follow Him. Acts 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

Yet now they are being ‘called again!’ Now, every Christian is called. We cannot be saved without being called, for we cannot initiate our own salvation. We are dead in our trespasses and sins, and we need to be called, to be awakened to our need, and brought to repentant faith in Christ. That’s not our work, that’s God’s work. Here’s the sequence, in Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. But now the disciples, having been called to follow Jesus, are being called to ministry within the church. To be more accurate, to a Particular Ministry within the church, for we are all called to serve, but some are called to serve in a particular ministry in the church… Mark 3:14

  • He called them ‘Unto him’. They were to be set aside for him, to sit at his feet, …. to be separated unto him. In Romans 1:1, Paul wrote, Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
  • He called a particular number of them. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of ‘followers’ – but in this sense he only ‘called’ 12. Who were these people and why them?

They were ORDINARY people! Jesus didn’t go to the colleges of the Jews, the philosophy schools of the Greeks, the gladiatorial academies of the Romans, and choose extraordinarily talented people. He went to the harbours and the workplaces. He chose ordinary people and through them He changed the whole world. Jesus still uses ordinary people!
They were DIFFERENT people! I would have said ‘diverse’ but for the modern misuse of the word! Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. A traitor like Matthew served alongside a Jewish Zealot like Simon Zelotes. (Luke 6:16)

So the men have been called to come to Christ, and now they are receiving a particular call to serve him in ministry, so what will be the next step in their preparation for service? Training!

2. College.
These were untrained men, unlike the Pharisees, and even the disciples of John. Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. But now they are to spend three years in the very best theological college in the history of mankind. Look at how their training and commissioning is to progress…

  • Discipleship. The first thing we learn about these men is that they are called disciples. Disciples are LEARNERS, they are students. Every Christian is to be a student in the school of Christ. It’s a lifelong course of study for us, – we never get to the stage where we graduate from Christ’s College, we are always discovering more from God’s Word, as we read it and learn from it. There is such a settled treasury of knowledge in God’s revealed Word, the Bible, that our finite minds could hardly ever take it in. We are all LEARNERS.
  • Apostleship. But what was the aim of their training? What was the curriculum preparing these men for? There’s a second idea introduced here. They are to be apostles. Now what does that imply?
  • Ambassadors. Apostles are the ambassadors of the king. That’s why they are learning from Jesus Himself. Thats why theres no more apostles today, for these men would only speak what Jesus had told them to say. The ambassador of a nation, the emissary of a government doesn’t go along to a foreign power and say whatever comes into his head, or something that he has just invented in his mind. he speaks words that have been written and commanded by the power he is representing. So the apostles didn’t have the right to invent new stuff, new revelations, new beliefs. That’s why they are spending time with him, learning!
  • Foundations. There’s a building to be built – the church! The apostles and prophets of the early church were to be the foundation of that building. Paul expands on this for us in Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: and in 1 Corinthians 3:9-11 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
  • Missionaries. 5These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, This is another role for which they must prepare, for an apostle is SENT. No point in having an ambassador to Australia, living in London! The apostle must GO, in the name of the Lord, and do what he is commanded to do. These are MISSIONARY APOSTLES.
    So they have begun a series of lectures, an intensive course of study, living with Jesus, watching him, learning from him, following him, preparing for ministry in the best possible school, the School of the Master. very soon, even the educated, erudite Jews would look at these men, hear them preaching and take note that the only way that these people could be so effective in their work, is because they had been with Jesus! Finally –

3. Credentials. he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
Jesus didn’t issue His disciples with ‘warrant cards’, but he did give them something to mark their appointment, he gave them POWER. Greek ‘power’ = ἐξουσίαν πνευμάτων. What kind of power?

  • Power to defy Satan! How will they do this? By proclaiming Christ! It is in his name that satan has been and is being defeated! Mark 3:14 that he might send them forth to preach, They were to preach. The word is kerouso – a proclamation of Christ.
  • Power to heal the souls of men! Specifically here, these foundation apostles would be able to heal all manner of diseases, and of course thats what they did. But the greatest disease of all is sin, and the most pressing need of mankind is for healing of the souls. In fact the word ‘curate’ may have derived from the old idea of the ministry being ‘The Cure of Souls.’

Matthew Henry wrote: In the grace of the gospel there is a salve for every sore, a remedy for every malady. There is no spiritual disease so malignant, so inveterate, but there is a sufficiency of power in Christ, for the cure of it. Let none therefore say there is no hope, or that the breach is wide as the sea, that cannot be healed.

So, Jesus has called his disciples, and now, in our next study, we can look at the next verses, and see how he taught them to carry out his commission.

From → Bible Study, Matthew

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