Twelve (extra) Ordinary Men

All four of the Gospels contain numerous references to Jesus going to God in prayer. On this occasion (in Luke 6:12), Luke says that he went to “the mountain” and spent the whole night in prayer. We do not know what mountain this was. It is reasonable to believe it was one located close to what was then Capernaum.

Ministry of the Apostles, a complex multi-figu...

Ministry of the Apostles, a complex multi-figure icon with a full-height image of Jesus Christ, surrounded by sectors with scenes of His disciples’ calling, ministry and martyrdom. Icon from the Yaroslavl Museum Preserve. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What was the occasion of such a lengthy and fervent time of prayer by the Son of God? The next verse gives us the answer, for when day came, He chose from among His disciples twelve men from various backgrounds, and named them “apostles,” a word very familiar to us. He chose this term because it describes what their mission would be very well. It comes from the Greek word “apostolos,” which means “messenger” or more aptly “one who is sent out.” This will become most appropriate when He gives them their “Great Commission.” The list of apostles also occurs in Matthew 10:2-4, and in Mark 3:14-19. There are some differences, but it is the same twelve men in those gospels as listed here in Luke. Like Simon, many were known by more than one name.

The first two are “Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother” The next two listed are James and John (the sons of Zebedee), who were partners in fishing with Peter and Andrew. This James is sometimes called “James the greater” to distinguish him from the other apostle named James. John referred to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, John 20:2). Philip was one of the first disciples, but is not mentioned after Jesus’ ascension. He should not be confused with the Philip in the book of Acts that was a deacon.

The next apostle listed is Bartholomew, also known as Nathanael (John 1:44-49); and he is almost always mentioned along with Philip. Next was Matthew, also known as Levi, the tax collector, followed by Thomas (who, unfairly really, will always be remembered as “doubting Thomas”). Next come James the son of Alpheus (also known as James the less), and Simon “who was called the Zealot.” In the days before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the group of people known as Zealots were men who wished to overthrow the Roman government. It is unknown for certain whether the term here is meant in a religious sense or in that political sense. If the latter, it would mean that a change of heart and purpose occurred in his life after becoming a disciple. Otherwise, Jesus would not have made him an apostle.

English: Icon of James, the Just, brother of J...

English: Icon of James, the Just, brother of Jesus Português: Ícone de Tiago, o Justo, irmão de Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Number eleven in the Gospel of Luke is “Judas the son of James,” known in Matthew as Thaddaeus. Some scholars believe that this is the Jude that wrote the book of Jude, but there are some problems with that. In the opening for the Book of Jude, he calls himself “the brother of James,” while he is listed here as the son of James. It is certainly possible for someone to have a brother with the same name as their father, but it is more likely that Jude was referring to a more well-known James – the brother of Jesus. If so, it would make that Jude the brother of Jesus also (both he and James called themselves “servants” of Jesus Christ in the scriptures). Jesus did have a brother named Jude, short for Judas (Matthew 13:55). But none of the apostles could have been brothers of Jesus. Though His brothers did come to believe in Him, at the time of John 7:5, they did not; and the circumstances in that passage occurred well after His apostles were named. The last apostle in the list is Judas Iscariot who, we all know, betrayed Jesus.

Twelve men who were just like you and me, who saw in Jesus salvation for the world. Their lives were never the same after meeting Him. And once Jesus went home, the Holy Spirit would make their understanding of what they were a part of complete. But for now, they have a lot to learn.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Luke 9 – The Transfiguration

Mount Hermon is one possible location for the Transfiguration. Caesarea Philippi is near the base of it.

The first 27 verses of this chapter consist of details told in Mark 6 (sending out the Apostles, and the feeding of the five thousand) and Matthew 16 (Peter’s confession, and Jesus’ foretelling of His death and resurrection.   Jesus took Peter, John, and James with Him in verse 28 to pray on the mountain where they witnessed an unforgettable sight, as His appearance and even His clothing are transformed; and Moses and Elijah (representing the Law and the Prophets) appeared and spoke of Jesus departure “he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”  This of course , refers to what follows His coming crucifixion and resurrection.  Just as Peter speaks hastily again (verse 33), they hear the voice of God declaring what Peter had said – that Jesus is the son of God.   Peter assumed that Moses and Elijah would stay with them, but they were gone after God spoke, saying “Listen to Him.”  The presence and removal of those two seems significant, as well understand the scriptures today.

As Jesus foretells His death and resurrection in verse 44, verse 45 is one of a few verses that tell us how understanding and recognition was concealed from the disciples at various times until after Jesus departed following His resurrection (see also Luke 18:34 and Luke 24:16).  It is no small wonder then, that they began debating their own importance over each other.  Jesus settles the dispute with another statement in verse 48 that they would not yet understand  – “he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”  He would have more to say about this in Luke 22:26.

The lessons of verses 57-62 are in light of the urgency of the moment at which Jesus encounters them.  Two say that they want to follow Him, and He tells another to follow Him.  He tells one that he will have to make sacrifices in order to do so (verse 58).  The other two speak of matters important to them at the time that they want to take care of first (59, 61).  This was no time for other priorities; and though these instances refer to a more physical following, the application for us is the same – that following Jesus must take first priority in our lives.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.