Mark 3:13-19 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Jesus chose those on whom he wanted to focus most of his time. He didn’t leave his choice to fate, chance, or another’s decision. He wasn’t haphazard, letting things fall together and reacting to situations as they came along. Jesus formed and carried out a deliberate plan. He called to himself those he wanted….
When he chose the Twelve, Jesus very clearly let them know that they were his special focus. Everyone else in Jesus’ company also knew on whom he was focusing his energies. Perhaps he had to deal with some petty jealousies and some bad attitudes because of this, but they were not insurmountable. On the other hand, imagine the exuberation of the Twelve when they realized they had been hand picked by Jesus. What an honor, to share his daily life and to be personally trained by him! We can only imagine how often they must have reflected back on the honor of this day later in their lives. It must have been a valuable memory for them when they were leading the charge into the very city that had publicly assassinated Jesus, and while they were preaching in other equally hostile places. Other followers may well have been inspired by this day also, to aspire to leadership and to show themselves worthy of greater responsibility. Then they too could be personally selected by the Master for some good work. Publicly honoring the few who have been selected for some special responsibility is good for the whole group.
Those of us who are disciples of Christ have also been personally selected by Jesus to do his good work. Therefore we need not quietly envy the Twelve. Consider the following passages:
So too, at the present time there is a remnant [a relatively small group which has remained faithful to the call of Jesus] chosen… (Romans 11:5)
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will… (Ephesians 1:4-5)
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,… (I Thessalonians 1:4)
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. (II Thessalonians 2:13)
He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (James 1:18)
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (I Peter 1:1-2)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (I Pet 2:9)
They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.’’ (Revelation 17:14)
Living the life of a Christian is even more exciting when you understand that you are one of the chosen few. Each and every disciple who has come out of the world and into the kingdom of God has been hand picked by the Lord. And the Lord has specific tasks ready and waiting for us to do. Probably most of us have experienced the potentially humiliating situation of being chosen to be on a team for an athletic event, say a soccer game. Usually two ‘‘superstar’’ athletes are chosen by the group to be the captains of their respective teams, and then proceed to alternately choose people out of the group to be on their teams. It is good for one’s self-esteem to be selected early. I was usually taken second to last. Perhaps this was because I wore glasses, or because I was labeled a ‘‘brain,’’ or possibly because I was about as fast as a dog on its hind legs. In any case, there was something more important than the order in which we were selected. To win the game was everything. The phrase ‘‘it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, its how you play the game’’ is meant to comfort the losers. Winning teams do not huddle up and recite it. In the great game of life, Captain Jesus will never have to consider the possibility of losing. He, and all those he has chosen to be on his team, will win a great victory over this world. That is why I am glad he chose me, and that is why I have chosen to be on Jesus’ team.