13 Then He went up the mountain and summoned those He wanted, and they came to Him. 14 He also appointed 12—He also named them apostles—to be with Him, to send them out to preach, 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 He appointed the Twelve: To Simon, He gave the name Peter; 17 and to James the son of Zebedee, and to his brother John, He gave the name “Boanerges” (that is, “Sons of Thunder”); 18 Andrew; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.
Jesus’ popularity was growing. The crowds followed Him in droves to see the miracles and to hear His teachings. He was even forced to keep a small boat ready because the crowd was pressing in on Him so strongly. After witnessing the healings and demonic deliverances, the people simply wanted to touch Him.
But eventually He had to get away from the crowds altogether, because He had an important decision to make. He went up on the mountainside, where, as Luke explains in his Gospel, He “spent all night in prayer to God.” His purpose was to receive wisdom and direction from God as to who would be His twelve apostles, men who would be with Him, whom He would send out to preach, and who themselves would have authority to drive out demons.
It was a profound moment as Jesus selected a team of men who would watch, learn, imitate, and do life with Him for three years, and who subsequently would change the world.
What strikes me about these men is how average they were—just twelve ordinary men. There was nothing particularly spectacular about them. But this is a pattern we see throughout the entirety of Scripture, where God chose the weak and the lowly to do mighty things for Him.
Paul speaks to this in 1 Corinthians 1:27. “Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world, what is viewed as nothing, to bring to nothing what is viewed as something.”
Jesus didn’t choose the already-established religious leadership in Israel to begin His ministry. In choosing these nondescript, low-life, untrained men, He was rejecting the false religious leadership of Israel. The spiritual elite wouldn’t have a redemptive role to play in the work Jesus was inaugurating; instead, it would be these ordinary apostles.
This reminds us that Jesus doesn’t look at our human weaknesses or imperfections, but at our spiritual potential. Like the original twelve disciples, there is nothing spectacular about what we offer to God in terms of our giftedness or abilities. The power isn’t in the person; it’s in God alone. So when the disciples performed extraordinary acts in the name of Christ, it was not them but the power of Christ working in them. All they brought was an obedient heart and willingness to be used.
I sometimes think if I were more gifted, more intelligent, and more charismatic, I would be more attractive to God for service in His Kingdom. But I’ve come to realize that because I’m weak and lowly, I’m a perfect candidate to participate in His redemptive plan to save the world!
Perhaps like me, you struggle with doubts about your usability. Be encouraged! God can use you in mighty ways despite your limitations, because through them His glory and His work may be plainly seen by those who need to know Him.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Don’t look at your weaknesses, look at Jesus. The power for effective ministry does not lie in our own strength, but in Christ alone.
- Do you have a big decision ahead of you? Go to the Father in prayer. Jesus had an important decision to make about who should be with Him on this three-year journey toward the cross. On the mountainside He went to the Father for direction and guidance as to who those men would be.
- Ordinary people can do extraordinary things. Don’t underestimate the potential of a person because they lack experience, gifts, or abilities. God takes lowly, weak people and accomplishes more through them than they ever imagine would be possible.