7 Jesus and his disciples went out to the lake, followed by a huge crowd from all over Galilee, Judea, 8 Jerusalem, Idumea, from east of the Jordan River, and even from as far away as Tyre and Sidon. The news about his miracles had spread far and wide, and vast numbers of people came to see him for themselves. 9 Jesus instructed his disciples to bring around a boat and to have it ready in case he was crowded off the beach. 10 There had been many healings that day. As a result, many sick people were crowding around him, trying to touch him. 11 And whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, they would fall down in front of him shrieking, “You are the Son of God!” 12 But Jesus strictly warned them not to say who he was. 13 Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him. 14 Then he selected twelve of them to be his regular companions, calling them apostles. He sent them out to preach, 15 and he gave them authority to cast out demons. 16 These are the names of the twelve he chose: Simon (he renamed him Peter), 17James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder”), 18Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the Zealot), 19Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).
Points of Interest:
- Jesus has become very popular. There are huge crowds coming to him from all over Israel and even the neighboring regions. Almost like a rock star who has to have the limo ready for a quick escape, Jesus has the disciples prepare a boat to save him from being crushed or drowned. It’s clear that Jesus cares about the crowd: he’s healing everyone he can touch. Yet, interestingly, in the midst of this moment of immense popularity, he decides to slip away with a few friends. He particularly chooses twelve to be apostles, which means, ‘sent ones.’ These sent ones are intended to go out and preach and cast out demons—in other words, they will be sent to do what Jesus has been doing. But before they get sent out, they have to do something else first: be his regular companions. Jesus withdraws from the crowd for the sake of the crowd. He realizes that he can’t reach everyone who needs to be touched; so he selects twelve people to be his agents, to multiply his reach. His plan works only if 2 things happen: the twelve stay close enough to him to learn from him; and then they go out to do what he does. For us too, being a follower of Jesus can only work with both of these things: intimacy with Jesus and his people; and compassion for the world. We need to be with Jesus, and we need to do what Jesus does. Each is incomplete without the other.
Taking it home:
- For you: Almost all of us prefer one or the other of Jesus’ calls to his apostles. We may be very attracted to being with him, but daunted by the idea of doing what he does; or we may feel driven to go and do, but can’t get excited about being with him. Which type of person are you? Take a step today in the opposite direction, and see what Jesus does.
- For your 6: There were crowds of people in Jesus’ life, but he focused on 12 people he really wanted to pour himself into. In fact, even among the 12 there were three with whom he was close enough to give them nicknames. We really want Jesus to do good things for our 6. From this passage, it seems that he wants to do so, and you are one of his main plans. What would it take for you to more intentionally give more attention to your 6? Are there 1 or 2 of them with whom you are closer than the rest? Ask Jesus for a creative, divine plan to make it possible, in the midst of all of the relationships and responsibilities of your life, for you to spend more time with those 1 or 2. Also, pray for them, not just that they would become companions of Jesus, but that they would do what he does—that they would become ‘sent ones.’
- For our church: In this passage, Jesus’ ministry is reaching beyond the boundaries of Israel to the neighboring countries as well. Continue to pray for our church, that Jesus would give us the ability to give to people beyond our borders Particularly pray for our missionaries-Karen and Dave Carlson in China, Jim and Linda Doss in Tecate, Mexico, Margie Brewer in Swaziland, and Jenny Whiteman in the Middle East. Pray for our sister church in Haiti, our Youth Center in El Salvador, and the teams from Journey that will travel there that Jesus will increase our ability to share his goodness with them.