by Steven Chan
The Bible relates to us the occasion when our Lord Jesus Christ appointed the twelve to be with him and that He might send them out to preach: “And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. 14 Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach” (Mark 3:13-14).
It is important to note that the disciples were called by Jesus to be with Him so that they may be prepared to be sent out to do the work of preaching the gospel. They were not called so that they could be rich or for the satisfaction of their own needs. We must remember why we are called by Jesus (1 Cor 9:16; 15:58).
Being with Jesus was deemed an important prerequisite by Jesus prior to being sent out as preachers of the gospel of Christ. There’s something about having been with Jesus.
In Acts 4:13, the Bible recorded this for our learning: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus”. Having spent time with Jesus, they were transformed from “uneducated and untrained men” into “bold” preachers of the Word that caused others to “marvel” at their transformation.
A brief review of the account of Mark would reveal how Jesus prepared them for the work of preaching the gospel; their transformation into “fishers of men” (Mark 1:17) was gradual but clearly evident after they witnessed His resurrection from the dead.
- Jesus showed them the use of ‘parables’ to teach the gospel: “But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples.” (Mark 4:34)
- Jesus showed them that He had power over nature when He calmed the storm: Mark 4:41: “And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
- Jesus showed them that He knew those who were seeking for His help when in the midst of the large throng of people around Him, He stopped to ask, “who touched Me?” and “His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ (Mark 5:31) He then healed the woman who had touched Him. She had suffered at the hands of all her physicians. He showed them that in spite of the multitude of people, He still cared for the individual who had been suffering all her life.
- Jesus showed them the importance of working as a team when He sent them out “two by two”: Mark 6:7: “And He called the twelve to Himself,and began to send them out two bytwo”. In this, He showed them the importance of working in teams, and not as a “lone ranger”. This was consistent with what was recorded in Ecc 4:9-10: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.” The apostle Paul later wrote of the different roles in the team in preaching the gospel in 1 Cor 3:6: “ I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”
- Jesus showed them the importance of spending some time away from the multitude to have some rest after having been on their preaching circuit: “Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. 31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.” (Mark 6:30-32). He showed them that they ought not to neglect the body’s needs for rest and food.
- Jesus showed them that His power was real, not a “fluke” or “one off” (although He had just fed 5000 men with 5 loaves and 2 fish) when He demonstrated again His power over nature as He walked on the water towards their boat and calmed the storm: “Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. 52 For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.” (Mark 6:51-52).
- Jesus taught them that spiritual defilement has nothing to do with what one eats; it has to do with what enters one’s hearts: “His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. 18 So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thuspurifying all foods?” (Mark 7:17-19)
- Jesus taught them to watch out for spiritual maladies (eg. the bad influence of the Pharisees and of Herod) and not on the physical needs – seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you – Matt 6:33: “Then He charged them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” 16 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It isbecause we have no bread.” 17 But Jesus, being aware of it,said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? 18 Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up? They said to Him, “Twelve.”” (Mark 8:15-19)
- Jesus showed them what God the Father testified of Him when He was transfigured alongside Moses and Elijah: “And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Mark 9:7)
- Jesus revealed to them about His Death and His Resurrection on the third day: “For He taught His disciples and said to them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.” 32 But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him.” (Mark 9:31-32)
- Jesus warned them about the threat of division in their midst due to leadership aspirations, sectarianism and acting without due consideration to others, thereby being stumbling-blocks to believers: “Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.” (Mark 9:50)
- Jesus taught them about the sanctity of marriage and that marriage is for life: “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” 10 In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter.11 So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 12 And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
- Jesus taught them that children belong in the kingdom of the Lord: “Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:13-14)
- Jesus warned them that it would be difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven: “Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?”27 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it isimpossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:23-27)
- Jesus taught them about God answering their prayers when offered with faith and the necessity of forgiving others if we wish for God to forgive us our sins: “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them,and you will have them. 25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:24-26)
- Jesus revealed to them the up-coming destruction of the Temple for which the sign would be Jerusalem being surrounded by armies (Mark 13:14; Luke 21:20), and His coming at the end of the world – no one knows the day except the Father: “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will bethe sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”…But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.” (Mark 13:3-4)
17Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper for His disciples to remember Him and His sacrifice for the salvation of man (Mark 14:22-26
- Jesus exhorted His disciples to watch and pray so that they will not fall into temptation; yet Peter denied the Lord three times (Mark 14:38)
- Jesus rose from the dead on the third day as He had predicted: “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” (Mark 16:6-7)
- Jesus announced to them that He has all power in heaven and on earth, and that the disciples were to go into all the world and preach the gospel of Jesus: “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16; Matt 28:18)
We need to spend time with Jesus through a careful consideration of the four accounts of His life and teachings (i.e. Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) and prepare ourselves so that we can become “fishers of men” (Rom 6:17-18; 2 Tim 2:21-26) and do His will (1 Cor 15:58). “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom 12:1-2)