The Master's Men
Topic: Apostles Verse: Luke 6:13–6:17
“The Master’s Men”
Theme: Jesus’ commitment to building His church began with the foundation and continues today through His direct involvement.
I. The Master Demonstrates His Sovereignty through the Call – v. 13a
A. The Summons of His Followers
- Our Lord in this text provides us with the awareness of His interest in using all of His followers to bring Him glory.
- After having spent an entire night in prayer, Jesus rises to make some of the most important decisions of His ministry – who will serve His as Apostles – “And when day came, He called His disciples to Him …”
- We understand that there were more than merely twelve men who had been following along with Jesus.
- “Disciples” [μαθητὰς] – a term that means “student,” “follower,” or “learner.”
- We know that there were vast numbers of people who followed Christ – cp. Luke 12:1
- Of course, not all of these people who constantly surrounded Jesus were true believers – John 6:64-66
B. The Submission by His Followers
- Yet, we see that those who followed Him and truly believed were responsive to His leadership – they came when He summoned them.
- This pictures the relational dynamic that exists between Jesus and those who are His true followers – Jesus calls and they respond – not only at the initial point of salvation (ie. The “effectual call”), but to the subsequent purposes that God has for our lives.
- There is that severe confrontation of His followers who fail to yield to Him when He says: “Why do you call me Lord but do not do what I say?” – cp. Luke 6:46-47; Matthew 7:21.
- As the followers of Jesus, we are “called” to do the will of God – when was the last action you took specifically because you believed that it was a newly understood “call” to submission?
- Life can be described as a constant movement toward Christ – can you objectively see this movement? What does that motion look like?
- Can you differentiate between the “call” to believe and the “call” to serve? Can a person be called to one without the other?
II. The Master Demonstrates His Submission through the Choice – v. 13b
A. The Submission to the Father’s Purpose
- Now Jesus shows His yieldedness to the Father’s will – “… and chose twelve of them …”
- Those chosen were clearly those indicated by the Father in response to the prayers of Jesus for wisdom through the previous night.
- Jesus considered these twelve men as gifts given to Him by the Father in response to this prayer – thus, they were summoned and authorized by Jesus, but only because they were the Father’s choice – cp. John 17:6-7.
- From the beginning, Jesus understood that Judas would betray Him and yet in a great show of submission to the Father, Jesus selected him.
B. The Submission to the Father’s Plan
- “… whom He also named as apostles …” – [ἀποστόλους] – refers to “one sent” or a “messenger” who represented one of authority.
- This cultural dynamic is tracable to the Jewish concept of the “shaliach” – which also referred to a messenger sent with full authority to act on behalf of another.
- This position was similar to what we call today the “power of attorney” – a person who acted on behalf of the one represented.
- Jesus had been preparing these men for some time and determined that it was time for them to step up and begin to fulfill the plan of God that they become “fishers of men” by preaching the Gospel.
- These men were not super-believers; they were men who struggled with their lack of faith and the presence of doubt, temptations toward pride and over-confidence, materialism and greed, short-sightedness and temporal values, and a host of other weaknesses that we ourselves share.
- Often, believers feel that they cannot possibly make a difference for Christ – because they are struggling with spiritual weakness, sin, or ignorance; however, we fail to recognize that it is the work of God through us that brings glory to Christ, not our qualifications or moral victories.
- These “twelve” that He chose were authorized by Him to do amazing things in the service of Christ Jesus by God’s plan.
- They were chose to serve as those who would lay the foundation for the church through the revelation of truth about Jesus Christ – Ephesians 2:20; Matthew 16:13-18; Ephesians 4:11.
- They would be the men through whom the Holy Spirit would produce the New Testament Scriptures – cp. Ephesians 3:5; Acts 2:42
- They would serve as a means of God’s power being demonstrated for the purpose of authenticating the message of the Gospel – 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:3-4.
- Speaking from merely human perspectives, these men hardly seemed qualified or fit for such roles – they often frustrated Jesus by their lack of faith, constant bickering over who was the greatest, density in response to Jesus’ teaching, and their objections to Jesus plans – eventually abandoning Him in the midst of the garden when Jesus was arrested.
- How do you think that the 12 disciples who were chosen for special responsibility felt about their being chosen – fear, gratitude, excitement, etc …? How do you relate to their probable sentiments?
- Jesus’ example of submission to the will of the Father included one who would betray Him … how do you respond to following the will of God even when you know it could result in “failure?”
- When was the last occasion when you prayed for the wisdom from God that resulted in you making choices that God blessed?
III. The Master Demonstrates His Strategy through the Commission – vv. 13c-16
A. The Strategy of Using Ordinary People
- “Simon, whom He also named Peter” – “Simon” is his given name and used by Jesus when He desires to emphasize Peter’s natural, unredeemed state; while “Peter” is the name used to emphasize what Jesus desired to do through Peter; he was a self-reliant, opinionated, aggressive person who was the inarguable leader of the group – his name appears first in all four of the lists of apostles provided in Scripture (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:17-19; here; and Acts 1:13)
- “Andrew his brother” – Simon Peter’s brother who was as reserved as Peter was bold; he served quietly in the background constantly seeking to introduce people to Jesus; both Peter and Andrew were crucified together with their wives.
- “James” – the brother of John was a son of Zebedee and was a fisherman; nicknamed as one of the “sons of thunder,” James was zealous, passionate, and fervent; he aspired to greatness and asked to sit at Christ’s right hand in the Kingdom; he was the first to die – beheaded - and whose death is the only one of the twelve recorded in Scripture.
- “John” – Always listed among the top four of the apostles, John is the one who leaned upon Jesus at the last supper and seemed most tender in his love for Christ; later, John became very much concerned about truth, love, false teachers, and was the longest living of them all – dying a natural death of old age as far as we can determine after having been exiled and tortured for the faith.
- “Philip” – (not to be confused with “Philip the evangelist”) always heads the 2nd tier of apostles in the listing – apparently making him the leader of this next cohort; he apparently was the logistics manager for the group – arranging meals and lodging; his people skills may have been a bit lacking as he always went to another of the twelve whenever someone asked a question of him; his death apparently came through martyrdom in Asia Minor.
- “Bartholomew” – also called “Nathanael,” Bartholomew was one of the more spiritually minded of the twelve, being identified by Jesus as part of the “true Israel” – in whom was no deceit; he was a bit prejudiced – saying that nothing good could come out of Nazareth; tradition states that Bartholomew was skinned alive and then crucified in Armenia; others say that he was beheaded.
- “Matthew” – known also as “Levi” was the tax collector converted and became the follower of Christ that wrote the first Gospel; tradition holds that he was burned at the stake.
- “Thomas” – known also as “Didymus” has gotten the moniker of “doubting Thomas” because of his incredulity at the news of the resurrection of Christ; He was one of the twelve that demonstrated great devotion to Christ – volunteering to go up with Jesus to Jerusalem and expressing his expectation to be killed with Christ; tradition holds that he went to India where he was martyred by being speared to death.
- “James the son of Alphaeus” – is the leader of the 3rd and final cohort of the apostles as his name always leads the last four in the lists; possibly the brother of Matthew whose father was also named Alphaeus; is also called “James the less” – perhaps due to his height or possibly youth; tradition says that he went to Egypt to preach and was crucified there.
- “Simon who was called the Zealot” – since the Zealots were a group of assassins and terrorists who plotted the overthrow of Rome, he would have been fiercely patriotic, passionate, and courageous; had it not been for Jesus, Simon would have delighted in killing Matthew because of Matthew’s collaboration with Rome as a tax collector; tradition is split with some having him preaching in Persia, Africa, or Britain, and either crucified or sawn in two as a martyr.
- “Judas the son of James” – also called by two nicknames: Thaddeus (“breast child” = momma’s boy), and Lebbeaus (“heart child”) and both probably indicate he was the youngest of his family; tradition has him martyred together with Simon the Zealot.
- “Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor” – obviously the unbeliever who went along with Christ for personal advancement; “Iscariot” – seems to be the location from where Judas came; he was the treasurer of the group and often stole from the money entrusted to him; some believe that he was also a Zealot and died at his own hand after having betrayed Christ.
B. The Strategy of Using Objective Preaching
- The strategy was for these men to go and preach the Gospel as witnesses of Christ and His work.
- They preached – announcing the Gospel wherever they went once the Spirit of God had come upon them.
- Their messages became the “kerygma” of the New Testament – orally delivering what would ultimately find its way into the Scriptures.
- Today, we continue to devote ourselves to the “Apostles teaching” – Acts 2:42.
C. The Strategy of Using Obvious Power
- The endowment of power was an apostolic gift – something designed to provide them authentication as the true messengers of Christ Jesus.
- As foundational to the church, the “signs of the apostles” died out with the apostles as their work was completed in the provision of God’s Word.
- Today, we are given the power of the Holy Spirit to do the work that He has called us to do:
- The power of the Spirit over sin
- The power of the Spirit through spiritual gifts to edify the church
- The power of the Spirit in the Gospel to reach the lost
- The power of the Spirit in the Fruit that is produced.
- We have all been “sent out” with the commission by Jesus to make disciples … when was the last time you engaged in obedience to that commission?
- With which of the Apostles do you most relate – what can you learn from their lives?
- How should the “left over” disciples (those not chosen as Apostles) have responded to Jesus choices – do you struggle with such proper responses to the will of God?