PassageThese two passages aren’t thematically related, but I’m putting them together because they form a sort of transition between the previous two passages (in which Jesus talked about the Sabbath), and the next few in which we get into the Sermon on the Mount. But it starts with prayer: Jesus goes off on his own to pray, all night long, and the next morning he comes back and chooses twelve of his disciples to call his Apostles: Simon (whom he names Peter, which means “rock”), Simon’s brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, another James, another Simon, and Judas—who, the passage points out, became a traitor.
After this, Jesus brings the Apostles to a great crowd, who has come to Jesus to hear him teach and to be healed. It’s a very large crowd, but anyone who touches Jesus is healed of their diseases and unclean spirits. In the next passage, Jesus will begin teaching the crowd, and this particular occasion is often called the Sermon on the Mount.
ThoughtsIt’s worth pointing out—and I’m sure many have—that before choosing the twelve Apostles, Jesus spends the entire night in prayer. We all remember the night that Jesus spent in prayer before his crucifixion, but this night of prayer is worth noting as well. Jesus is about to choose twelve men upon whom his Church will be built on this earth; he’s not going to do that without spending a lot of time with God the Father first. Does he believe that he’s going to make a mistake and pick the wrong men? I don’t think so. Does he think that it’s in the Father’s hands, but He is going to make a mistake, if Jesus doesn’t pray hard enough? I’m sure he doesn’t think that! I think Jesus, better than anyone else who’s ever lived, trusts in the Father to keep things under control—yet he spends an entire night praying about this issue. Trusting in God in no way means less prayer—it means more.
But speaking of mistakes, didn’t Jesus and/or the Father make a mistake when they chose Judas, the traitor? No. It was part of the plan all along.
Another thing that’s worth pointing out is the difference between a disciple (which means something like a student), and an Apostle (which means “messenger,” or “one who is sent out”). There were many disciples and they came and went; in this passage, for example, Jesus chooses the twelve out of the greater number of disciples. (I would imagine that some of the people who were disciples in this passage were no longer disciples when Jesus went to the cross.) As for Apostles, however, there was a finite number of them; fourteen, to be exact:
- The twelve listed here
- After Judas’ betrayal, another man named Matthias is chosen to replace him in Acts 1:12–26 (ESV)
- Saul/Paul is considered to be an Apostle, though he calls himself “the least of the Apostles” (1 Corinthians 9:2 (ESV) and 1 Corinthians 15:9 (ESV))
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