Whole Life Whole Bible Day 30
Matthew 4:18-22 (NASB)
18 Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He *said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
29: Apostles and apprentices
It was normal for those who wanted to follow a teacher to choose for themselves who they would follow. Instead, though, Jesus takes the initiative in calling the disciples — and when he calls, they respond.
Luke tells us that Jesus spent a night praying on a hillside before he named the men who were to be his special disciples, or apostles (Luke 6:12–13). He had called them to be with him for the three years or so of his public ministry. He called twelve, and the Gospel writers carefully record their names (Matthew 10:2–4; Mark 3:16–19; Luke 6:14–16). These twelve men, recalling the twelve tribes of Israel, would be the messengers of the kingdom to the world, the planters of the church, the foundation stones of the restored people of God. In his vision of the new creation, John sees their names on the twelve foundations of the wall of the new Jerusalem, the Holy City, just as the names of the twelve tribes of Israel are written on the gates (Revelation 21:12, 14).
Jesus taught the disciples, involving them in his ministry and sending them out to proclaim the good news of the kingdom. But the powerful symbolism of the number twelve does not mean that these men were the only disciples: Jesus once sent out 72 on a mission (Luke 10:1). Some of the twelve hardly figure at all in the narrative. Of the ones we do read about, we see them learning from him, sometimes doubting and misunderstanding him, sometimes questioning his decisions. But we also see them realizing the amazing truth about the Lord who had called them.
‘You will be my witnesses,’ Jesus told them, just before his ascension (Acts 1:8). As we read the book of Acts and the letters of the apostles, we see them laying the foundations of the church by their teaching and preaching, and we ourselves are grafted into the body of Christ, his church, through their teaching.
We too are Jesus’ disciples. God’s reign has at last broken into the world to bring salvation and renewal. As part of that larger reality, men and women are graciously called by Jesus (‘Come, follow me…’) and then commissioned by Jesus (‘and I will send you out to fish for people’). For us, as for them, discipleship is apprenticeship in the work of the kingdom, learning from Jesus and learning with others.
For further reflection and action
By calling twelve apostles, Jesus was reminding the early Jewish Christians of their heritage as the people of Israel, the people of God. With today’s multiplicity of churches, new and old, how far is it important for Christians to know their heritage, honouring the Christian past and the history of the church?
There is much reassurance in the story of Jesus and his disciples. He chose the imperfect, the doubters and the muddle-headed, but he trusted them to do his work in his world, empowered by the Holy Spirit. How might we use this as a model for the way we encourage our employees, our children and our fellow believers?
‘Discipleship is apprenticeship in the work of the kingdom, learning from Jesus and learning with others.’ Based on your reading or knowledge of the Gospels, put together a list of the characteristic marks of discipleship.
Visit LICC to find out more or get an overview of the Biblical narrative and the ways it can shape us by reading the Introduction to Whole Life, Whole Bible from the Whole Life, Whole Bible book.