Saturday, October 15, 2022

Unschooled and Ordinary - Luke 6:12-16 - October 16, 2022

 Luke 6:12-16 Unschooled and Ordinary

Good morning! Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke chapter six, today we will be looking at verses 12-16, and that’s on page 862 in the pew Bibles.

The passage that we are going to be looking at this morning is, I think, one of the most encouraging passages of Scripture, but it only is that if you stop to think about it for a minute. On the surface it might seem to be purely factual and even just another one of the Bible’s lists of names. It is that, but let’s take the time to appreciate it for what it is and instead of just letting our eyes roll over it in order to get through the book and say that we’ve read it let’s stop and consider what it is the Lord is saying here and what that might possibly mean to us as we apply the principles that the Lord has given us here.

Let’s look at it together.

12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Let’s pray.

Now, quick quiz: what was the main topic of our sermon last Sunday? The Sabbath and Sabbath rest.

How does that relate to the first thing we see Jesus doing in this short passage? Jesus went to a solitary place, to the mountain, and He prayed all night to God.

This is Jesus, the Son of God, One with the Father and with the Spirit, spending the night in communion with them in prayer. How does that relate to Sabbath?

Here we see Jesus’ definition of true Sabbath rest at work. Jesus finds rest in communion with God that the earth simply cannot give. No amount of laying around doing nothing, nor sleeping can give the kind of rest that the Father can give through prayer.

This is the wisdom of Christ and He offers it here as an example to us. We have trained ourselves to constantly and consistently crave entertainment, spending a half an hour in prayer is difficult if not impossible for us, but here Jesus offers the way to the rest we truly crave and desperately need.

Unplug, find a quiet place, and pray.

Now that was the principle at work in Jesus, but what was it that Jesus was praying for? Now, we can really only speculate about this but if we consider this question in the context in which it is given I think it’s safe to assume that Jesus’ prayer had something to do with the calling of the Twelve Apostles.

Jesus already knew what it was that He would be calling these men to, and who they were, and what they would need in order to fulfill that calling. I think we can get a sense of what Jesus may have prayed if we fast forward three years or so to His prayer for the Apostles in John 17:6-11.

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

Up until that morning the Twelve were just disciples like all the others that were following Jesus, but on this day He called them Apostles. So what’s the difference?

I’ve been trying to only refer to them as disciples up until this point in our study of Luke because that’s what they were, disciples. A disciple is a follower, a learner, a student, a pupil, but an Apostle is something very different.

An Apostle is one who is sent by another, a messenger, or an envoy, and that is exactly the work that Jesus had called these men to. He didn’t send them out immediately but taught and trained them for this work of being His witnesses and preaching His gospel to the world. And even three years of training and watching and listening to Jesus Himself wasn’t enough, they had to be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to do the work that Jesus called them to. That is a point that should not be forgotten.

It was the work of the Apostles and prophets to be the foundation of the Church according to Ephesians 2:20, and they, along with the Apostle Paul wrote the New Testament, the actual foundation of the church.

So who were these twelve men that Jesus called out of the crowd of disciples? We’ve heard some of these names before in our study of the Gospel of Luke: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Now as we have already seen in our study, and the most famous example of it is here in our text, people often had more than one name, or a nickname, and some of those are recorded in Scripture. The first, of course, is Peter, also known as Simon, but he isn’t the only one on this list. Bartholomew is also known as Nathaniel, Matthew was Levi, and Judas son of James was also known as Thaddeus and is considered by some to also be known as Jude.

As we look at this cast of characters it’s important to remember exactly how they got to be Apostles. These men were not the cream that rose to the top of the wider group of disciples, with such obvious skill and wisdom and charisma and reputation, it’s no wonder that Jesus chose them. I don’t think their skill set or work experience had anything to do with it. In fact, if we look a little closer at some of these men, we may start to wonder just what kind of team Jesus was building.

Let’s start with an example that we have talked about recently in our study together, Matthew, or Levi. What do you remember about Matthew? He was a tax collector, a Jewish man collecting taxes for the Romans, considered a traitor to the people of Israel.

And now let’s contrast Matthew with Simon the Zealot. Do you know what a zealot was? Those that like to keep things a little cleaner than the New Testament truly is say that Simon was a religious zealot, really on fire for God, lot’s of religious zeal. But that isn’t what a First Century Zealot was.

Simon was nicknamed “Zelotes,” which most likely means that he belonged to a group of fanatical Jewish patriots known as “the Zealots,” whose purpose was to deliver Israel from the tyranny of Rome. They used every means at hand, including terror and assassination, to accomplish their purposes.

Does it make a lot of practical sense that Jesus would include these two guys on the same team, a Jewish Roman sympathizer and a fanatical Jewish patriot that hated Rome? Talk about not being able to have a polite discussion about politics!

What about the contrast between Peter and Judas Iscariot. Incidentally, Iscariot was not Judas’ last name, “is karioth,” is Greek for, “from Karioth,” a town in southern Judah.

Judas had all the qualifications, he was well connected, he was good with money, a natural leader, he should have been our guy! Contrast him with Peter, a brash, emotional, loudmouth, always ready for a fight and never thinking things through, and he’s consistently named first among the Apostles and Judas is always named last, and here in Luke he is named a traitor.

So what is it that is so encouraging about this text?

Years ago I served an internship in the youth program of the church I grew up in. My youth pastor had a note taped to the front of his Apple IIe, which was a computer for you kids, it said simply, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”

Jesus certainly didn’t call the most qualified, but He taught, and trained, and filled, and thus qualified these men whom He called.

John Calvin wrote, “The Aposlteship was not bestowed on account of any human merits; but, by the free mercy of God, persons who were altogether unworthy of it were raised to that high rank.”

The Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:7-12,

Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Why I find this passage so encouraging is that by the same free mercy of God that Jesus called these men out of the crowd He also calls me and He calls you to be His witnesses, to preach His gospel to every creature.

I’ll close with a passage from Acts chapter four from years later after Peter and John healed a crippled man in the Name of Jesus.

On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set [Peter and John] in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

Unschooled, ordinary men, but people could tell that they had been with Jesus.

May that be true of us too.