Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Mark 3:13-19

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13 Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him. 14 Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach, 15 giving them authority to cast out demons. 16 These are the twelve he chose: Simon (whom he named Peter), 17 James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the zealot), 19 Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him). ~ Mark 3:13-19

Today, we return to our study of the Lord Jesus through the gospel given to us by God through the pen of Mark. Mark’s most significant personal connection to the Lord Jesus was through one of the first to be called by the Lord Jesus to follow Him, Simon Peter, who was likely Mark’s source for the material in this gospel. 

As we read in Acts 12, Mark’s mother’s house was a regular stop for Peter, so much so that the workers in their house recognized Peter by voice alone. And, according to Mark 14, it appears that Mark was present at Gethsemane when the Lord Jesus was arrested and was taken off to be crucified by the Jewish religious leaders. Mark was that young man seen watching the proceedings from a safe distance.

Mark’s gospel portrays the Lord Jesus as constantly on the move. The forward motion in Mark’s writing keeps the knowledgeable reader’s mind continually looking ahead to the cross and to the resurrection. In this account, thirty-nine times Mark used the word "immediately," giving a sense that the Lord Jesus’ time on earth was short and that there was much to accomplish in His few years of ministry. 

In v.13 of today's passage we read, "Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him."

Perhaps, the most profound witness that we can provide for the Lord Jesus is the witness of our transformed lives which only He produces. We can not change ourselves. In actuality, we are dying to our old selves and we are now learning to say "yes" to our new selves, and, our new selves are, in actuality, the presence of the Lord Jesus in our lives. 

The Christian life is what some have described as "the exchanged life," which is taken from Isaiah 40:31 which reads, "Those who wait on have the ability to renew their strength." The literal translation of the Hebrew word for "renew" is "exchange." Literally it means, "Those who wait on the Lord will exchange their strength for His strength."

The transformation of the believer in Christ happens always from the inside out. It happens as we daily learn to allow Him to be the center of our lives, which enables us to choose to be defined by Him. When we choose to be defined by Him, we will obey Him. Notice that these twelve men were called to be with the Lord Jesus. This is the point of all of our spiritual disciplines: to be with Him. For the twelve, to be with Him meant that they would be influenced by His culture. When we have been with Him, His presence is heightened in our lives.

If we present Christianity as merely peddling an ideology, offering it to people as great moral teaching, we miss the point. The point is to have an encounter with God which alters our culture and we begin thinking and living according to His word. As a result, we will be effective witnesses when we are able to communicate with people what it is to have a personal relationship with God. And, the real nice thing about God, He values and uses our uniquenesses.

In v.14-15 of today's passage we read, "14 Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach, 15 giving them authority to cast out demons."

Before the Lord Jesus sent the 12 out to preach as apostles, they are to be with Him as disciples. A disciple is a learner. Any disciple has to learn from the Lord Jesus before he can be His ambassador. So, like the first disciples, we must hone the craft of being with the Lord, watching and hearing Him with our hearts on a daily basis.  

In v.16-19 of today's passage we read, "16 These are the twelve he chose: Simon (whom he named Peter), 17 James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the zealot), 19 Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him)."

This list of "the twelve" as they are called, appears four places in the New Testament: It appears in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and, in the book of Acts. Interestingly, this list appears not in the gospel according to John. When this list is given, it is presented in three groups of four men, and, Peter is always mentioned first. Judas Iscariot is always mentioned last because he betrayed the Lord Jesus, and James always appears before his twin brother, John.

Of the twelve, the Lord Jesus only gave another name to Simon, James and John. Simon Peter and James and John, the sons of thunder. This marked them as belonging to an inner circle with the Lord Jesus. And after this, when the Lord Jesus went to do something special He took with Him Peter, James & John. He dealt more intimately with these three. In doing so, He designated them leaders, the means by which the others would be reached. The Lord Jesus reached the few in order to reach the many. 

The first to be on the list is always Simon Peter whom we know to be impetuous. He didn't wait for things to happen; he liked to make things happen. Simon Peter struggled with patience. He didn't have a lot of it. Peter was the guy who got in trouble after he said, "You're the Christ, the Son of the living God." On the heels of that statement, the Lord Jesus told the disciples that He was going to Jerusalem to be killed. Peter vehemently objected, revealing his poor theology. Then, the Lord Jesus puts him in his place by saying to him, "Get behind me, Satan!"

Peter was the guy in the garden who took out his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. And then, the Lord Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword away, Peter. If you live by the sword, you'll die by the sword." Peter eventually denied knowing the Lord, but he was eventually restored by the Lord, and went on to be a great leader.

The key to it all is being defined by the Lord Jesus which does not happen over night. So, be patient with yourself and with others. It is a good practice to learn to follow the Lord. We do this by talking with Him and listening to Him with our hearts. In order to hear Him best, we must make sure our hearts are being modulated by being in His word. Our faith in Him is illustrated by the old tuning button that used to be on radios. As we modulate the button, our hearts will better hear Him. And, the modulation button is His word informing our faith in Him.