Prepare to listen. Sit still, take a few deep breaths then pray: Lord God, open my ears and let me hear your words today. Amen.
Read Mark 3:13-19a
13He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. 14And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, 15and to have authority to cast out demons. 16So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, 19and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Two phrases caught my attention. First, Jesus “called to him those whom he wanted,” with no explanation. He didn’t need these twelve; he wanted them. I find that intriguing, especially when I consider that Jesus still calls people today; he called me and you. He wanted us, for whatever reason. There is something very comforting in that, suggesting he not only loves but also likes us.
The second phrase is at the very end, a rather casual identification of Judas: “who betrayed him.” Again, there is no explanation. It’s Mark’s way of preparing readers for the difficult fact that one of Jesus’ inner circle would turn out to be a traitor and betray Jesus. One of those Jesus chose and wanted betrayed him in the end. It’s a sobering thought.
It is also worth noting the three reasons (notice the use of ‘to’ three times) why Jesus designated these Twelve to be his apostles. They suggest what he also expected from them. (They are the same as the 3 practices of Jesus we noted in Mark 1:35-39; Day 10). First, “to be with him.” Jesus wanted fellowship, communion with a small group of followers. This is what prayer is about, communion and fellowship in deep relationship. Sadly, when Jesus most needed the disciples to be with him, during his suffering and death, all of them deserted him. Second, “to be sent out to proclaim the message.” Like Jesus, the apostles were to preach the good news of the kingdom, of God coming to restore all creation. Finally, “to have authority to cast out demons.” Since demons represent evil, we can interpret this to include confronting evil in all its forms in our world, not merely in specific demon possession. Fellowship with Jesus (that is, prayer), proclamation of the kingdom and confronting evil continue to be the tasks of Jesus’ disciples today as we now continue his ministry in the world.
When we reflected on Jesus’ 3 practices (Mark 1:35ff) we were challenged with this question: In what ways could you practice these three disciplines—prayerful solitude with Jesus, proclaiming his message and confronting evil—in your world today? Ask yourself today how you’re doing with this.
Jesus wants you, not merely needs you. How does this make you feel?
Respond to Jesus in prayer
You want me, Jesus. This is remarkable and assures me that I am a person of worth. Help me live today as one of your wanted disciples, whatever that means for me. Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world as a wanted disciple of Jesus.