Luke 6:12-19 (ESV)
12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. 17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.
Before Jesus chose his twelve disciples, he spent the entire night in prayer. Jesus moved away from the crowds and the busyness of life and went to a mountain to be alone with God. The next day, he handpicked those called to be his team. In verse 13, the phrase “chose from them” is used. Others followed Christ, but Jesus picked a core team to invest in and train to continue his work. Jesus carefully sought the wisdom of God before he made this decision. Luke calls these twelve disciples “the apostles.” The word apostle literally means “sent one.” These twelve apostles were commissioned by Jesus to represent him and carry the good news out from Israel and into the world. The list of the twelve began in verse 14 with Peter. Andrew and Peter were brothers. James and John were brothers. And they were all four fishermen. James and John were actually cousins of Jesus. Philip and Nathaniel (Bartholomew) were friends. Matthew (Levi) was a tax collector, which wasn’t a popular occupation. Thomas was the famous “doubter.” There was also a younger James (son of Alphaeus), Simon, who was a political radical, and Thaddeus (Judas, son of James). Oh, and we can’t forget Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Jesus.
What an interesting group of men Jesus chose: fishermen, a hated tax collector, a man who had to “see things with his own eyes,” and a political radical. Did Jesus make mistakes with this group of twelve? Not at all! These men were the specific ones that God hand-selected and commissioned to carry out his work on earth. Jesus really prayed hard before he called these guys. It is astonishing to consider that God led Jesus to even include Judas Iscariot in this group of twelve. Although Judas was never saved, the other eleven sure were. Have you ever felt like you’re not smart enough or beautiful enough or witty enough to really make a difference for God and his kingdom? Those thoughts just aren’t true! God masterfully uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. And when he does his amazing works through the weaker among us, his power and glory are magnified. Instead of focusing on past failures, look forward and let God work in and through you today. Jesus can change the world through a surrendered life and a trusting heart.