The Gospel of Luke - Part 19: The Lord's Apostles - Luke 6:12-19

(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)


Review:

Last week we started into Luke 6 which we defined as teaching us about the Lordship of Jesus and his call to us to be true disciples. As we study through this chapter, remember that we make the decision to follow Jesus or not to follow Jesus. It is a choice that we have to make over and over again, day after day.

Remember, we only have one constituent to please: Jesus.

We broke Luke 6 down into five sections:

Lessons in Lordship
The Lord’s Sabbath6:1-11
The Lord's Apostles6:12-19
The Lord's Perspective6:20-26
The Lord's Love6:27-38
The Lord's Disciples6:39-49

Last week we dealt with the Sabbath, which we learned is not Sunday. The New Testament tells us to have a day of rest to prepare for the work to come and to focus on our relationship with God. It does not specify the day. As we learned by the example of Jesus, it is not wrong to do good and to serve our fellow man and to teach during that day of rest.

We saw that the Pharisees were trying to enforce the religious laws of man instead of the law of God. There are plenty of modern Pharisees. We need to follow the teachings and example of Jesus and abide by what he wants us to do, not what man prescribes.

The Lord's Apostles:

It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew; and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured. And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all. --Luke 6:12-19
Matthew describes it this way:
Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him. --Mark 10:1-4
Mark says:
And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons. And He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter), and James, the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means, “Sons of Thunder”); and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot; and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him. --Mark 3:13-19
What are some things you notice about the process of Jesus choosing the Twelve? Verse 12 says:
It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.  --Luke 6:12
What does the fact that Jesus spent the whole night in prayer tell us about Jesus’ attitude toward prayer? How committed are you to prayer?

This was no five-minute prayer before Jesus went to bed, was it?  He spent the whole night in prayer. Clearly, prayer was much more important to Jesus than it is to us. And there are many other references to Jesus’ praying. Here are just a few:

Why do you think that most of us are not as committed to prayer as Jesus was?

Kent Hughes, a Christian writer and senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois says: “Prayer was everything to Jesus. Through dependent prayer Jesus lived a life of flawless perfection, so that He could say, ‘I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The One who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him’ (John 8:28-29).”

Oswald Chambers, the early 20th Century Christian writer, minister and missionary says:

"It is impossible for a believer, no matter what his experience, to keep right with God if he will not take the trouble to spend time with God ... Spend plenty of time with God; let other things go, but don't neglect Him."
How do you make decisions?

Jesus spent the whole night in prayer before He chose the Twelve. Think of that. He was the sinless Son of God, yet He still prayed all night before a critical decision. You can see this pattern throughout His life. At critical points, Jesus spent extended time with His Father for preparation and guidance:

Proverbs 14:12 drives home our need to look to God for guidance:
There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. --Proverbs 14:12
God wants to guide us but the choice is ours: What would it do for us if we followed Jesus’ example? How blessed we would be if, before any major decision, we were this committed to praying and seeking God and His guidance!

What decisions are you facing right now?

Proverbs 16:3 says:
Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established. --Proverbs 16:3
Luke continues:
It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them... --Luke 6:12-13
Remember that there were many more people who were "disciples" of Jesus than the Twelve. In Acts 1:12-15, there are about 120 men and women praying and waiting for the coming of the Spirit. All of these people were disciples of Jesus.
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said... --Acts 1:12-15
We need to distinguish between “disciples” and “apostles”. All of us, then and now, who are committed to following Jesus are His disciples.

“Disciple” is a rich word. The Greek word is μαθετης [mathetes], coming from the root word μανθανω [manthano] meaning “to learn”. In New Testament Israel, a disciple was a person attached to a rabbi (a teacher).

Several aspects of the rabbi-disciple relationship in First century Judaism are significant. The disciple left his home and moved in with his teacher. The disciple was expected not only to learn all that his rabbi knew but also to become like him in character and in devotion to God - (Luke 6:40).

A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. --Luke 6:40
Disciples were expected to learn, write down, even memorize the teachings of their rabbi (teacher). There is an element of personal attachment in ‘disciple’ that is lacking in a student.

In contrast to “disciple” (which should apply to all believers), the word “apostle” refers to a specific position.

The Twelve are most commonly called “disciples” in the Gospels. The word “apostle” is used only eight times, six of which are in Luke. However, in the Book of Acts, they are usually referred to as “the Apostles”.

It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as Apostles: --Luke 6:12-13
Apostle comes from the Greek word αποστολους [apostolous] meaning literally, "one sent forth".

In Acts 1:21-22, Peter described the qualifications of the Apostles:

Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us — one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” --Acts 1:21-22
Qualifications of an Apostle: Ephesians 2:20 speaks of the Apostles as being the foundation upon which the Lord built His church.
...having been built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone... --Ephesians 2:20
In his Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, Richards points out that the Apostles did not serve as rulers of the early church but rather as wise guides.

The council in Jerusalem in Acts 15 seems to confirm this. The council addressing the issue of circumcision was composed of the Apostles and the Elders of the local churches. The final spokesman for the council was not one of the Apostles but was James, the Jesus’ brother.

Are there apostles today?

The answer seems to be “yes and no”. The Twelve occupied a unique position. Their qualifications show that there can be no others like them.

However, the term “apostle” also applied to others in the New Testament.

But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out... --Acts 14:14

Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. --Romans 16:7

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession. --Hebrews 3:1
Had Paul and Barnabas and Andronicus and Junias been with Jesus from his baptism to his resurrection?

How can Jesus be an Apostle and also be their leader?

It may be that this is a ministry role - like teacher or pastor or evangelist - that can still apply to some Christians. Some scholars and teachers believe that the “apostolic function” continues -- that of a ministry pioneer or missionary.

God still needs people today be fulfill this “apostolic function”, to be ministry pioneers, to be willing to start ministries.

Now back to the Luke Text:

Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew; and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. --Luke 6:14-16
We find the lists of the Twelve in three of the four Gospels: In each list, Peter is mentioned first and Judas Iscariot is mentioned last.

In John 1:35-51, the Apostle John gives us a partial list, going into more detail about their first encounters with Jesus.

One final listing is found in Acts 1:13.

In verse 16, Luke says "...and Judas Iscariot, who become a traitor.

Notice that Judas didn't start out as a traitor. He started out as a disciple, but he made choices that turned his heart away from the Lord and opened him up to the devil's influence. John tells us:

Jesus then answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” --John 13:26-27
Was Satan already in him, or was this the first entry?  I suspect Satan had been dealing with him before, but this was the point that Judas chose sides.

What do you think we can learn from Judas being a disciple, being chosen an Apostle, and becoming a traitor?

Notice what a diverse group the Apostles were: Though well-known today, these men were “nobodies” in Jesus’ time. They weren’t Levites or priests; they were ordinary guys with jobs and families. They illustrate what God says in First Corinthians about who He uses for His purposes:
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. --1 Corinthians 1:26-29
Oswald Chambers wrote: “God can achieve His purpose ... through the absence of human power and resource. ... All through history God has chosen and used nobodies, because their unusual dependence on Him made possible the unique display of His power and grace.”

We tend to focus on personality or abilities or appearance or education or skills. But God focuses on the heart. The Apostles were different from each other in many ways but they share a common heart for God. God was (and is) looking for people who have a heart to follow Him.  Each of the disciples left everything behind and followed Jesus.

Luke tells us about the time that Jesus chose Peter:

For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.” When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him. --Luke 5:9-11
When Jesus picked Matthew, Luke tells us:
After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him. --Luke 5:27-28
How about you?

What are you willing to leave behind to follow Jesus?   What is it costing you to be His disciple?

Luke continues:

Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured. And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all. --Luke 6:17-19
In between the section on Jesus choosing His disciple and Jesus giving His Sermon on the Mount message, is this brief passage.   And what do we see Jesus doing before He taught them?   We see Him helping people.

Clearly, Jesus’ ministry of helping people -- healing, casting out demons, feeding, etc -- laid the foundation for His teaching ministry. Because Jesus helped people, they were more willing to listen to Him and learn from Him. People saw evidence of God in the works and attitudes of Jesus.

v.19 "...healing them all."

Here’s a great picture of grace. There were more people than just His disciples here, it was a large crowd, but Jesus helped everyone. He set no pre-conditions on His love, His compassion, even His help. Truths He will teach in the next section, He actually first models here:

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. --Luke 6:36
The New Living Testament says
You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. (NLT)
Warren Wiersbe says:
“It is significant that after Jesus called His twelve Apostles, and before He preached this great sermon, He took time to heal many needy people. This was a demonstration of both His power and His compassion. It was also a reminder to His newly appointed assistants that their job was to share His love and power with a needy world.”
Each of us is not an Apostle, with a capital A, if that is how we differentiate the Twelve from other apostles, but we are to be at least a disciple, if not an apostle with a small a.

That requires following the model of Jesus, prayer to know the will of God and compassion for mankind, but not just in concept.  The compassion must be a part of the action in our lives.

How are you doing? What needs to change?

Next Week: "The Lord's Perspective" - Luke 6:20-26.