Jesus Selects Twelve Apostles and Begins to Teach Them
August 18 - Nº 230 Mark 3:7-19; Luke 6:12-26; Matthew 5:1-12
Jesus continued to travel and teach. He cured the sick and cast out demons. People came from all over hoping to touch Jesus and be healed. The crowds grew so large that Jesus sometimes climbed into a small boat and set sail on the Sea of Galilee just to get away from the pushing and shoving. One evening Jesus went up into the hills by himself. He spent the whole night praying to God. The next morning, he called all his disciples together and chose 12 of them to be his apostles (which means sent ones). From then on, those twelve men became the focus of his attention. He knew that they would have to carry on his ministry when he left this earth. They were going to be given special power to heal the sick, as well as authority to drive out demons. The 12 apostles Jesus selected were Simon (whom Jesus had already renamed Peter); Andrew (Peter’s brother); James and his brother John (Jesus nicknamed them the “Sons of Thunder”); Philip (who was one of his first followers); Bartholomew (also called Nathanael); Thomas (who was a twin); another disciple named James; Thaddaeus (also called Judas—but not the same Judas who later betrayed Jesus); Simon the Zealot (a member of a religious group that violently opposed the Romans); Matthew (the tax-collector who had worked for Rome); and Judas Iscariot, the man who eventually betrayed Jesus. It was an eclectic group of men from very different backgrounds. But Jesus brought them together to change the world. Whenever Jesus began to teach his apostles, crowds of people gathered around. They were drawn to him because of his miracles, but they were also fascinated by what he taught. It was completely different from the teachings of the Pharisees. Instead of focusing on the external rules they needed to follow to be blessed by God, Jesus focused on what was going on inside their hearts. He said things like:
You will be blessed if you are depending on God instead of filling your spirit with pride. Heaven is reserved for humble people!
You will be blessed if you weep for those who are hurting. God Himself will comfort you!
You will be blessed if you are more successful in God’s eyes than in the world. He owns this earth and will give you everything you need!
You will be blessed if your deepest longing is to have a right relationship with God. You will never feel empty or worthless!
You will be blessed when you show mercy instead of condemnation. God will show you mercy too!
You will be blessed if the desire of your heart is to please God. He will show you amazing things about Himself!
You will be blessed if you help others find peace with God and with each other. That’s something special that God lets His children do!
You will be blessed if you are willing to endure hardship because of your faith in God. You will be greatly rewarded when you get to heaven!
God wants to bless you! In how many of these eight areas can He do that right now?