12 It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles:
When we talk or think of the disciples of Jesus, we typically think only of the 12 apostles, but there were large crowds that followed Him and came out to hear Him whenever He was in town. The number of people following Jesus was far larger.
But there would be twelve who would become the leaders of the disciples and of the early church. Jesus chose 11 of these (along with Judas) after a night of prayer. The Lord acting in submission to the Father and demonstrating the importance to us of seeking the will of the Father in any spiritual endeavor, especially one as critical as filling a position of leadership within the church. So what’s interesting are the men that God chose.
14 Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew; 15 and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; 16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
There were no teachers of the law, no religious leaders, no especially pious men, and no scribes of which we know. Of those whose occupations we know, there were four fishermen, a tax collector, and a rebel. Based on what we know, Matthew was probably the best educated in the Roman sense, the others lacked a formal education
Peter was impulsive, James and John were ambitious and had anger issues, Thomas was cynical, and Matthew was an outcast.
They weren’t exactly the group of students a seminary professor would be hoping to see. But as God said to Samuel several centuries before, God judges the heart, not the outward appearance or qualifications.
And God called not the best or the most able according to our standards, but the men whose hearts could be adapted to their calling. Men who could learn to love others as they had seen the Master love others.
17 Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured. 19 And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all.
And immediately after their apprenticeship to Him began, they started getting on the job training. Large crowds surrounded Jesus hoping to be cured from their ailments. And their training does not begin with a series of four hour lectures with a few breaks in between and a stack of homework and papers that will be due later in the quarter.
Their training begins by being put into a position where they must deal with people. Not just any people, a diverse crowd of needy people. A diverse crowd of people in spiritual and physical need.
There would be instruction later, but I find it interesting that the first thing mentioned right after Jesus calls these men to be His apostles is a description of Jesus getting down in the trenches with suffering people and doing good to them.
It makes me think that maybe we’re not quite getting it right when we focus almost exclusively on lectures within the church and within our seminaries.