Twelve Ordinary Men
Sunday May 3, 2020
Scripture To Consider:
“And when Jesus had called His disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of disease.”
“Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Jesus.” Matthew 10.1-4
Something To Consider:
The supernatural power displayed in the life of Jesus was by far the most powerful witness to who Jesus was. He was certainly unlike any other teacher or spiritual leader in the recent history of the nation of Israel. He was like unto Moses. He was like the prophet Elijah. But somehow, He appeared to be so much more. And to have shared this power with His disciples was probably a surprise to these twelve ordinary everyday common men.
But, it was an essential part of their leadership training. How would each of them respond to suddenly possessing supernatural power to cast out demons? How would they react to having obtained the ability to heal all manner of sickness and disease? These were important questions to be answered in advance of Jesus’ one day departure!
One of these early disciples granted this supernatural power was Simon called Peter by Jesus. Simon wrote in 1 Peter 4.11, “If anyone speaks [teaches, preaches, or admonishes others in the name of Jesus], let him speak as the oracles [Word] of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”
And in the very next verse Peter revealed what else must be experienced with the obtaining of God’s supernatural power and divine ability. “Behold, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed [at His second coming], you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”
Something Else To Consider:
Therefore, it is as important now as it was then, that leaders in training be tested in advance with the power that accompanies leadership. Not everyone can properly handle with humility the mantle of spiritual leadership. Adam, Moses, David, Peter, just to name a few, all failed the early tests of leadership before being given other opportunities to prove themselves. And many more since them have abused the power of leadership.
And yet, God is patient. God is gracious and His mercy is new every morning! And so, supernatural power is a vital element of spiritual leadership, and the testing of that supernatural power is a crucial part of true spiritual leadership training. And because God is patient, and we are being made into the image of God, it is important that we too learn the lesson of a lifetime concerning patience.
Therefore, the apostle Paul writing to the Roman church in the first century A.D. declared in Romans chapter 5 verses 3-4; “We glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation produces patience; and patience [or perseverance] produces character [Christian character through patience]; and character, hope.” How are we doing in the producing of patience, character, and hope?
And where will any of us be without hope? How could we rightly follow Jesus without obtaining biblically required patience? Therefore, Paul also instructed all true believers in 2 Thessalonians 3.5, by stating; “Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.”
Something More To Consider:
We read in our Scripture to consider, “Now the names of the twelve apostles are these…” Here Matthew uses the term apostles rather than disciples. A disciple is one who follows, being trained in doctrine and in precept. A disciple is a learner who is being taught and trained by another. An apostle is one who has been trained and then is sent forth in order to transfer that learned teaching to others.
These twelve disciples had been trained by Jesus and were now ready for an out of classroom training exercise. In the establishing of the early church, after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, eleven of these twelve would be sent out with the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. They were to be sent to preach, teach, cast out demons, and to heal the sick.
In essence, they would be doing what it was they had been trained by Jesus to do. Jesus, according to Mark chapter 6, sent them out in teams of two, though they were ordinary, simple, and uneducated by worldly standards. And yet, they have spiritually impacted every generation since.
Where are we, you and me, in this spiritual empowerment process? Have we been trained by Jesus, who is the Word of God? And if so, how goes the spiritual training process? Are we studying to show ourselves approved unto God, 21st century workers not ashamed of the gospel, but able and equipped to rightfully interpret the Word of God and then be sent out to train others?
Before being arrested and eventually crucified, Jesus furthered His spiritual training of His early disciples, and now apostles, in John’s gospel chapter 15. In verse 16 we are informed by Jesus, “You [His disciples of every generation] did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed [ordained] you that you should go and bear [bring forth] fruit [spiritual fruit], and that your fruit should remain.”
Jesus continued His classroom instruction beginning in verse 18 of John chapter 15, by proclaiming; “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of this world, the world would love its own. Yet, because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore, the world hates you.” And the world demonstrated that hate in the killing of Jesus and ten of the twelve early disciples of Jesus.
A Few Final Words:
The supernatural power bestowed upon the early disciples cost them much! These ordinary men, all but Judas Iscariot, endured the hatred of this world because of their following Jesus. These ordinary disciples of Christ and also possessors of the supernatural power of God, endured affliction, endured tribulation, and endured to the end of their lives, the same treatment inflicted upon Jesus.
How can we expect any less affliction or any less hatred from the world then was directed toward Jesus and His 1st century followers? The truth is, we cannot expect any less difficulty and end time hatred from the world! All we need to do is to acknowledge the hatred and tribulation Christians are facing now and will continue to face around the globe. Are we praying that they will endure to the end? Are we praying that we and our loved ones will endure to the end?
Doctor Luke began the book of the actions of the early apostles with the promise given by Jesus, of His sending the Holy Spirit to help the true believer to endure to the end. In Acts 1.8, Jesus proclaimed His ongoing promise to every believer of every generation, by stating; “But you [all true believers] shall receive power [supernatural power] when the Holy Spirit has come upon you [as upon the early disciples]; you shall be witnesses [as they were] to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Power carries with it an ability to bring about change, either for good or for evil. Therefore, power must be regulated by a more powerful power source found only in God! Therefore, Matthew declared; “And when Jesus called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.”
Our Father in heaven, give us a desire to be used by You, and yet a willingness to remain humble with whatever power You grant. In Him Always, Amen!