“On Your Mark”
The Twelve (Chapter 3 Verses 13-19)
The need for prayer at this critical point in his ministry is laid before us (v13). For chosen from amongst his closest followers, the time has come to appoint “The Twelve.” Those whom Jesus himself designated Apostles. The prayer needs of Jesus often drew him away into solitude. We say where there is a will there is a way. We are told by Luke he spent the whole night (Luke 6.12) in a state of rapt contemplation in his Father’s holy presence. So important was the task in hand. What would he be praying for? No doubt for his men, not which ones, he would already know who they were, but rather for what lay before them. He would be praying for their work in the world. He would pray for the Spirit’s gifting, energising, empowering. He would be praying for their protection from sin, and the evil one. He would pray for the short time, a year, which they had left, for on-the-job training. He would pray for God to bring them through the trauma and agony of the Cross, and the following days. He would pray for their witness to the world, those who would hear the gospel message from their lips, for opportunities and effectiveness, so much to pray for. Pray beloved, for the ministry of the gospel, pray for the Ministers of the gospel, for their preaching before and after the word of God’s has been delievered (John 17.6-19).
They were all men of his choosing (John 15.16). Why them? The only answer is Divine wisdom and grace. The picture here is of Christ with his gathered Church (vv13-14), he in the midst of his people. How we need to make sure that is where he is, and where he stays (Revelation 3.20). Jesus himself appoints his designated Apostles, which he gives to his Church (Ephesians 4.11). They and their ministry are to be the very foundation of the church (Ephesians 2.20). There are twelve Apostles, which are symbolic of the twelve tribes of Israel. This is the new spiritual Israel, and these make up the nucleus of the new order, the new people of God. But here too is the severing, the divorce from the old order, which Jesus had laboured so hard, and so long, but in vain, to bring along with him. The position in which these men are placed is unique, a group never replaced. There were others who are called apostles in the New Testament (Galatians 1.19; Acts 14.14; Hebrews 3.1), but the Lord never used the title for any save his own chosen, selected Apostolate. The history of the Church has produced those who have claimed the title. But eventually all have fallen under the condemnation of history. There were only twelve.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)