Here’s Luke’s account of Jesus’ big reveal of those twelve chosen to be the closest to him. These twelve would see it all, up close and personal. What an honor to be chosen. Many are following and coming to know Jesus, but these twelve, apostles, would be the inner circle.
But how did he do it? How did Jesus know who to select? He prayed. His prayer could have been something like, “Father, help me discern your will. Who are those followers of mine who will withstand the persecution and will stay faithful no matter what? Who do you want me to select, Father?
Powerful. Over the years being part of ministry teams and groups, it was always our practice to pray before a meeting, a rehearsal, or before any sort of planning session. Why? We wanted God to be part of our plan. We needed God’s input for our plan to work.
Looking back, I see many plans of man that failed. We prayed, but in some instances, it wasn’t God’s timing. We’d encounter roadblocks that could only be moved by the hand of God. It just didn’t happen. In those times, we often wonder where is God, and why isn’t he blessing “our” plans. While it’s hard to admit “our” plans are not always God’s plans, the sooner we can accept that, the easier it is to move on and find God’s perfect will for us.
There is a distinction here between apostles and disciples. We always talk about Jesus’ 12 disciples, and then name them off. Technically speaking, we are ALL disciples or followers of Jesus. The twelve that he chose are those specifically called “apostles.” The word, apostle, has a more general sense of those being called or sent, as ambassadors or missionaries. It is common for Christians to distinguish the twelve as apostles, also to include Paul, the author of many of the epistles in the New Testament.
What is important for us to realize is that WE are disciples. So long as we are followers of Jesus, we are his disciples. However, with that comes the responsibility to proclaim the gospel. A true disciple will not hide or feel any sort of shame. A disciple may question and wrestle with God, and a disciple may face adversity. There is evil in this world trying to take control, and disciples tend to be the first target. A disciple of Jesus will stand in faith.
So how do we stay strong? Grow. We need to continue to fill our minds with thoughts of God and his positive, life transforming truth. Staying connected to other believers and devoting time daily to the consumption of Biblical truth will give us superhuman strength when we need it.
As Jesus showed us in the wilderness a couple readings ago, he called upon the truths of Scripture to keep him strong. We have that, too. We just need to make that a priority so we can be the best disciples ever.
Let’s pray. Father God, forgive me for not always relying on you and your strength. Fill me with a new passion to seek you, learn from your truth, and be fearless to stand up for you and to promote you to the world. Help me be a disciple of integrity and grace. Speak through me so that others will hear and be moved to follow you. May my words be your words to give hope. Clear away the garbage of my past that often invades my head and heart. Cleanse me and use me today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.