BIG IDEA: When Jesus calls and makes his first 12 disciples, he sends them out with his own power and message. They are engaging in a “ministry of extension” as they distribute Jesus amongst the nations.
SERIES: The Most Important Question Ever Asked – A Study in the Gospel According to Mark: John Mark, a traveling companion of the Apostle Peter, wrote this gospel. We trust his writing because of that tie to Peter, an Apostle of Christ. He writes this gospel by taking down Peter’s account of Christ. It’s written likely because the Apostles were aging and their stories needed to be told for the coming generations. These are essentially the memoirs of Peter written to a group of Christians in Rome, and it’s written with a sense of urgency. Jesus came to accomplish a mission and to do so with a remarkable sense of urgency. Throughout the entirety of the gospel, there is the most important question ever asked: Who do you say Jesus is? Fist gospel written.
SCRIPTURE: Mark 3:7-19
7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea 8 and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. 9 And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.
13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons. 16 He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
- Jesus’ Popularity: The great crowds that keep following Jesus are in this story, too. These people were coming from all over, often by foot. They traveled anywhere from 30-180 miles (that’s Portland to Seattle) by foot. And not only the distance, but the elevation change was significant. These people gave up and risked a lot to see Jesus, many of them sick or injured. Who would you travel that distance by foot to go and see? Jesus’ popularity was unparalleled.
- Messianic Secret: Jesus tells the unclean spirits that he casts out to keep his identity a secret. He also tells people he heals. He does this because the timing isn’t right for the world to know that he’s the Messiah. He wants to prove who he is before he tells them who he is. He also wants to wait because the people still don’t fully understand who the Messiah was supposed to be. They thought he would be a political revolutionary, which just wasn’t true.
- Messenger: Jesus doesn’t want to give the privilege of revealing his identity to unclean spirits. Instead, he gives this great honor and privilege to his disciples. That includes us. Jesus has given you this great honor. Don’t take it for granted.
- What does it mean to be a spokesperson for Jesus?
- Great Responsibility: People will ask questions of Jesus by looking at us. People will scrutinize a spokesperson. There is also great power in this.
- A Made Man: In organized crime, there is occasionally the opportunity to become a “Made Man.” This means that you have the fully, unquestioned protection of the “family” (you’re a “friend”), among other benefits.
- Made Man/Woman of God: As disciples, as spokespeople, of Jesus, we get honor, pride, protection, and his friendship.
- The Disciples wanted to be part of Jesus’ mission, even if they didn’t fully understand it yet. They simply wanted to be near Jesus, to participate in his work and put his plan and agenda above their own.
- Jesus knew these men and genuinely liked them. It’s not spelled out in the text necessarily, but Jesus like his friends (as most humans do), and he did that by giving them nicknames, which he does here in this passage. By naming these men, Jesus was calling them to a new existence, a new mission in the world.
- You must know Jesus and spend time with him. He knows you, cares for you, and loves you, but you must do likewise. Being sent by Jesus is always preceded by him knowing you. You have to know him personal experiential knowledge. You don’t need much at the start, but Jesus invites you to know him more. You are called to “realationships.” Being genuinely called and known by Jesus will always lead to real relationship. Jesus threw away his popularity with the crowds to spend time with these 12 men.
- Realationship Aside: We are, many of us, weary of one-way communication. We get tired of listening to a talking head, so we seek out something more. Or at least, we seek out something that feels like more. Podcasts are a great thing, a great tool and mode of entertainment and learning. However, it’s important to recognize that though many podcasts are very conversational and may make us feel like we’re part of a two-way conversation or even a community, we aren’t in reality a physical part of that conversation or community. We’re consumers of these conversations. Be wary: there’s value in consuming conversation, but it’s not everything that God wants for us. It scratches an itch for real dialogue and real relationship, but it falls short and keeps us ourselves from fostering real relationships with other people. It’s a faint image of the real.
- Why 12? Jesus selects 12 people very intentionally to spread his good news. God selected the 12 nations of Israel and so by selecting 12, Jesus is declaring that God is starting something new. He’s redeeming Israel and building his kingdom, a new nation.
- A Ministry of Extension: You do not build anything on your own, you do not generate power, have your own authority, etc. The Disciples job is to extend the power, extend the authority, extend the kingdom. Because you don’t generate anything yourself, anyone can be part of this Ministry of Extension – it’s for everyone. You get everything you need from Jesus: wisdom, righteousness, authority.
- Powerlines: The Grand Coulee Dam is one of the largest generators of hydro power in the country. It is the source of electricity that’s distributed to tens of millions of people along the west coast of the US. There are only a few of these hubs of electricity, but there is an extensive grid that sends the power throughout the country.
- We are Powerlines: It’s crucial for us to remember that we are not the hub. We’re not the source of the power, but rather the lines through which the power makes it to the people. We act as powerlines.
- Threats: There are plenty of things that threaten the distribution of electricity. The same is true for the distribution of the gospel. That’s why it’s so important to be involved in a believing community, digging into the Word of God, and spending time in prayer. When we get knocked out, we’ve got find a way to get back online and back to distributing the power of God to the world. Allow the people of God to get you back online. We don’t know how the power being knocked out here may effect people in another state. Similarly, we don’t know the extent of our extension, our influence may reach far beyond what we can see.
- What will you say when he asks you to follow him?
- What does Jesus ask of us when he appoints us his disciples? Go, make other disciples.
- You have access: God has placed you in your family, with your friends, in your industry – whatever that may be – to allow the power of his gospel to flow through you and into those lives.
Questions to Consider
Q1 // Which of the requirements for being a “made man or woman” do you find hardest? Requirement #1: Jesus “desired” these 12 not because there was anything special about them (skill or title or wealth), but because Jesus knew that they were for him. Requirement #2: Jesus knew these men, and he genuinely liked them. Requirement #3: You must know him by spending time with him.
Q2 // Do you often forfeit the time and energy needed for REAL relationship and REAL conversation for the consumption of other forms of virtual reality conversation (i.e. podcast)
Q3 // Being a “Powerline” rather than a generator: Is it comforting/challenging/frustrating to know that disciples are called to a “ministry of extension” only… taking the power of Jesus and the message of Jesus far wide.