The Gospel of Mark

Mark - Lesson 3C

Chapter 3:1-19

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  • Last week we summarized the various events that Mark has communicated thus far in his Gospel account regarding the person and works of Jesus.

    • We began in Mark 1:1 and ended in verse 12 of Mark 3.

      • Tonight, we arrive to Jesus’ selection of the apostles, which Mark will notate as the “the Twelve” for the majority of his account.

    • What we will see tonight in the selection of the Twelve, is that it required laboring in prayer, an unyielding call, and a divine commissioning.

      • This very work of calling the twelve was only a work that God could begin and complete.

      • With that being said, let's read the text together.

Mark 3:13 And He *went up on the mountain and *summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. 
Mark 3:14 And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, 
Mark 3:15 and to have authority to cast out the demons. 
Mark 3:16 And He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter), 
Mark 3:17 and James, the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges (Boan-er-ges), which means, “Sons of Thunder”); 
Mark 3:18 and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot; 
Mark 3:19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.
  • Let’s Pray

  • In middle school, during free time, my classmates and I would always engage in an intense game of 5 on 5 basketball on Fridays.

    • The selection process of who would be on whose team would always begin with the top players in the class as team captains.

      • The objective of team selections was obviously to get the best guys on your team before the other team got them first.

      • Each team captain would proceed in drafting the top picks from the group.

    • This ultimately resulted in the weaker, less skilled players being drafted last or not at all.

      • Unlike that game of 5 on 5 basketball in middle school, we will see in our text today, Jesus selects a team of rather interesting individuals to say the least.

    • Tonight, we will witness Jesus select 12 ordinary, unqualified, and untrained men who will eventually lead this new era, under the authority of Christ, which we now know of as the Church.

      • We will see the following:

      • 1. What it took to select these men.

      • 2. What qualified these men to be selected.

      • 3. How these men would accomplish the task of moving the Kingdom program forward.

    • With that being said, pick me up at verse 13 of Mark Chapter 3.

Mark 3:13 And He *went up on the mountain and *summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. 
  • Sometime after Jesus’ teaching at the Sea of Galilee, in a small boat, to a multitude of people, Mark now tells us He is going up a mountain to select what would be His 12 apostles.

    • There are three important words that we see here in verse 13 that must be carefully considered. Those three words are as follows:

      • Went Up

      • Summoned

      • Came

    • As we walk through these verses, I want us to keep these 3 words in mind.

      • They will play a vital role in the establishment of not only “the Twelve”, but will express the means by how men and women can be saved.

    • Notice that the text tells us that Jesus went up the mountain to appoint twelve men to follow Him in ministry to further the Kingdom program.

      • Jesus moves from the lowlands of the Galilee seaside to the hills of the Galilee.

    • Here is an image of the terrain of Capernaum currently, and as you can see from the lay of the land the hills rest in the backdrop of the image.

      • This provides us some insight as to, potentially, the distance between where Jesus and His disciples were to where Jesus would have gone for solitude in prayer.

    • As we walk through the Gospel of Mark, we will see that Jesus “going up the mountain” is quite revealing.

      • “Mountains, in Mark’s account, are sites of revelation or significant junctures in Jesus’ ministry as they are sites of revelation in the Old Testament”.2

      • We see these instances in the following scripture references: Mark 3:13; 6:46; 9:2; 11:1; 13:3; 14:26.

    • This notion of going to the mountains or hills would ring into the ears of the reader of the Hebrew scriptures.

      • Jesus ascending the mountain to call the Twelve could be seen as a parallel to Moses receiving instruction from God at Mt. Sinai (a mountain).

    • Here is a weighty moment for Jesus to make a grand decision of whom He will choose to spend close time with regarding the Kingdom program.

      • These men would be the very leaders of the New Testament church, establishing it!

    • With that in mind, Luke’s account tells us that Jesus did something quite important.

      • We see in Luke 6:12-13 an interesting detail is omitted from Mark’s account, more than likely, for the sake of brevity.

      • Check out the text with me:

Luke 6:12 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 6:13 And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles:
  • Before Jesus calls up the disciples to the mountain to choose His twelve, Luke’s account tells us that Jesus goes up alone to pray.

    • Notice how long Jesus went up to pray regarding His decision on who would be considered Apostles: “He spent the whole night praying.”

    • This decision was not made on a whim. The text tells us that Jesus labored in prayer all night to link the Father’s desires with His desires.

      • His communion with the Father preceded the calling of the Twelve.

    • Here is yet another example of Jesus demonstrating true servant leadership within the synoptic Gospels. Here is what He shows us:

      • Life in Christ requires consistent communication with the Father.

      • We cannot make adequate decisions without consulting the King.

      • We cannot lead effectively if we do not consult the King.

      • We cannot be strengthened and commissioned to do the work if we do not consult the King.

    • If the text tells us the Son of God, Himself, submitted His will to the Father, how much more should we?

      • I love the fact that the text brings to light the reality of the unity and community of the Trinity being in one accord.

      • Three distinct persons, co-equal and co-eternal yet fully submitted to the Father for the Glory of God.

      • Let's examine the second word from the text in verse 13 – Summoned.

    • The text tells us that Jesus, after having prayed and communed with the Father, that “He summoned those who He wanted, and they came.”

      • This language should be familiar to us at this point.

    • This imperative is different from Jesus’ summons of the disciples to “Follow Him.”

      • The Greek word for “follow me” as we discovered in previous teachings is akoloutheo (ak-ol-ou-theo) which means to come after me or follow me in the sense of being Jesus’ disciple.

    • However, the word “summoned” here in the Greek is proskaleo (pro-ska-leo).

      • It means to authoritatively communicate a demand for the presence or participation of someone (a particular person).

      • This type of calling is an unrelenting draw. You have no option but to submit to the calling of the King.

      • It is a sovereign call from Holy God.

    • This summons demonstrates that Jesus has determined for you the call that you will take.

      • So, it only makes sense that at the end of verse 13, Mark states our third word, “and they came to Him”.

    • It’s like when I tell our kids it’s time to go to bed, it’s not a suggestion or an opportunity for you to submit your particular petition.

      • It's time to get into the bed and you follow suit willingly. You abandon your desires and my command now becomes your desires.

    • In this same way, the disciples that have been called by Jesus, and have been following Him, have now come to Him.

      • It is upon this call that Jesus appoints these twelve men for a commissioned task under His supervision.

      • Check out verses 14 and 15.

Mark 3:14 And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, 
Mark 3:15 and to have authority to cast out the demons.
  • Mark states at the top of verse 14 the following phrase “And He appointed twelve”.

    • This phrase, in English, does not do justice as to the authority and control in which Jesus displays His divine direction for these men.

      • The word “appointed” here in the Greek is poieo (po-ie-o).

      • The Greek language conveys this sense that it is God who “has made the Twelve.”

      • This would mark the start of what it will mean to be made “new” in Christ Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul says this:

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
  • Culturally speaking, this sense of being called by the Rabbi was not typical for men during this time.

    • Typically, it would be the desiring disciple who would seek out the rabbi (teacher) to faithfully submit themselves under his authority and teaching.

    • However, this is not how Jesus chose to go about His selection process. His process would be rather unorthodox.

      • And doing things in an unorthodox manner was nothing new to Jesus and His ministry.

    • Rabbis would commit themselves to teaching and tutoring to model for their students what they would one day become.

      • However, Jesus does not bring up this sense of equivalency with His person.

      • For not even Jesus would speak to such matters as equality with God something to be grasped for people.

      • Check out what Paul states in Philippians 2:6:

Philippians 2:6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
  • As these men followed Jesus, the goal was for them to be transformed by His person and into His likeness.

    • This is how one became a disciple.

    • A disciple simply means “a student or a learner.”

      • Before these men became the Twelve, they were all simply followers and learners of Jesus.

    • Eventually, these men would move from simply spectating and following Jesus on occasion to eventually giving up their lives for the sake of following Christ.

      • This summons moved these men from mere learners to empowered participators.

    • Clearly put: Jesus draws those in who He wants by an emphatic call.

    • In recognizing the Twelve being called by Messiah to the work of the Kingdom, these men have no stake to what they will be given the authority to do.

      • This calling goes beyond what these men bring to the table. Remember, these men bring no religious credentials or astonishing accolades.

      • As Edwards stated: “The question is what Jesus can make of His disciples, not what they can be on their own.”

    • Verse 14 continues in explaining what these twelve men would now be appointed and empowered to do. Check out these three things:

      • 1. They would be with Him, meaning they would follow Him wherever He went (Relationship).

      • 2. They would be sent to preach (Commissioned).

      • 3. They would have authority to cast out demons (Empowered).

    • Edwards mentions in his commentary on Mark this profound statement: “Discipleship is a relationship before it is a task; a “who” before a “what.”

      • Before the disciples are sent with the extraordinary task, they must recognize that what they will do for God can only come from God.

      • I love what Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated in his book “The Cost of Discipleship”:

“The work of God cannot be done without due authorization, otherwise it is devoid of promise.”
  • So, they must first be men who are committed to Jesus’ words and work, which means they must spend deep committed, quality time with Jesus (relationship).

    • The Twelve will be and must be men that are marked by the Messiah.

    • The next thing that verse 14 mentions is that Jesus will send them out to preach.

      • The word “send”, here in Greek, is apostello.

      • This word is the root word for which the word Apostolos or Apostle comes from. It means “to be sent”.

    • The Twelve will be sent out to proclaim a message, and that message will contain the one in whom has both made them and has sent them.

      • As followers of Jesus, it is key to recognize that the message in which the apostles proclaimed throughout the world is the same message we proclaim.

      • That message is to preach Christ and Him crucified so that men and women may come to believe the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

    • The Apostles were not proclaiming themselves or their own self-interest like many false teachers today.

      • The primary aim for the Twelve was to make known that Messiah had come, died, and was raised so that those who would believe would have eternal life.

      • Acts 5:42 points to the object of the Apostle’s message:

Acts 5:42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
  • Check out the third thing that Jesus sent them to do: to have authority to cast out demons.

    • This supernatural ability that is given to them by God is used to demonstrate God’s power and to authenticate His message.

    • And one of the ways in which people knew that these twelve men were Jesus’ commissioned men was by way of casting out demons.

    • It begs to be mentioned that although healing is not included here, due to brevity, later on in Mark’s Gospel, we will see the Apostles healing sickness as well.

      • This authenticated who were truly Apostles versus those who were perpetrators.

    • In one instance you may recall the Sons of Sceva in Acts 19:11-20 where seven sons of a Jewish high priest tried to attempt to exorcize a demon.

      • However, these sons did not have the authority nor the power to do it and the evil spirits knew it too.

      • Check out their encounter with this unclean spirit:

Acts 19:13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 
Acts 19:14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 
Acts 19:15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 
Acts 19:16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 
  • Understanding what it means to be an Apostle consists of knowing that it is only something that Jesus Himself called these 12 men to.

    • No more. No less. So, when we hear of people calling themselves Apostles today, we can rest assured that no authority nor position has been bestowed upon them.

    • We will discuss this further a bit later on.

    • We now arrive to the list of the Twelve.

      • These men will share in both Jesus’ works and His sufferings for the sake of the New Covenant community known as the Church.

      • Check out the text:

Mark 3:16 And He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter), 
Mark 3:17 and James, the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means, “Sons of Thunder”); 
Mark 3:18 and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot; 
Mark 3:19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.
  • It is here that Mark provides the reader with the names of the twelve that are selected as Jesus’ Apostles.

    • A question that may arise for some is “What is an Apostle, and who is qualified to be an Apostle?”

      • The word apostle is derived from the verb “to send out” or “the sent out ones.”

      • An apostle was someone that was with Jesus the whole time, from John’s baptism to when Jesus was taken up, based upon Acts 1:21-26.

      • So, for those who claim themselves to be Apostles today, they would be out of sync with scripture and quite old.

    • It is important to note for our understanding that it was an apostle that carried the authority of the sender.

      • This was not the case for a disciple.

    • Now, before we dive into the names of these men who were summoned by Jesus, we need to look closely at the beginning of verse 16.

      • The text states “And He appointed the twelve”. This phrase repeats twice. Once in verse 14 and once in verse 16.

      • This speaks volumes because it alludes to the reality that God’s calling you into this loving fellowship with Him is less about you and more about Him doing the producing in your life.

        • Jesus determines the call.

        • Jesus determines the appointment.

        • Jesus determines the sending out.

        • And Jesus determines your coming in.

    • And it will be through the life of the Apostles as well as the lives of believers that will point to the proclamation of Christ and Him crucified.

      • Friends, this is the purpose and focus of Discipleship.

    • You and I are being made and shaped into the very image of Christ that makes much of His person and work and we abandon all our desires for His.

      • Discipleship is never about us.

      • Discipleship is not about becoming a better you for you. Discipleship is about being more Christ-like because He is working gloriously in you!

    • And the way in which Jesus would make this happen in their lives is by them giving up their lives for the sake of following Him.

      • Discipleship comes with a great cost!

    • Discipleship will cost you comfort and convenience, thereby receiving and accepting the call of the Caller.

      • And these twelve men would be on a path that helps them discover this reality, except for one, Judas Iscariot.

    • Here is the list of the twelve that Jesus calls:

      • Simon (Whom He gave the name Peter)

      • James (son of Zebedee) – Sons of Thunder

      • John (son of Zebedee) – Sons of Thunder

      • Andrew

      • Philip

      • Bartholomew

      • Matthew

      • Thomas

      • James, son of Alphaeus

      • Thaddaeus

      • Simon, the Zealot

      • Judas Iscariot

  • Let’s take a closer look at the twelve in whom Jesus handpicked. We will begin with Peter.

    • Peter was the first named of the Twelve. He had three names from three different languages.

      • His Hebrew name was Simon whereas his Aramaic name was Cephas and his Greek name was Petros.

      • All three of these names are associated with a stone or rock.

    • It would be Peter who became the leader of the early Church and the spokesperson of the Twelve.

  • Next is James and John, the sons of Zebedee, the 2nd and 3rd of the twelve.

    • James and John, like Peter and Andrew, were both fishermen.

      • We were introduced to these two earlier in our Mark study.

    • James’ name within the original manuscripts is rendered as Jacob which means “heel-grabber”.

      • He is also noted by scholars to be called James “the greater” to distinguish him from James “the lesser” who we will get to later on.

    • John is the third of the twelve listed. His name means “YHWH is gracious”.

      • Both brothers are given the nickname Boanerges (Boan-er-ges) which means the “Sons of Thunder”.

      • A related Arabic word means “thunder”, which suggests a sense of rage or agitation.

      • This nickname seems to be fitting for both brothers, as we will discover within the synoptic Gospels, there is a moment in which they respond in anger towards hindrances they come across while advancing the gospel.

    • For example, check out Mark 9:38:

Mark 9:38  John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.”
  • We can also see this sense of agitation in Luke’s Gospel, more specifically, Luke 9:54.
Luke 9:54 When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”
  • It is without dispute, that these brothers’ hasty and violent reactions show Jesus’ naming of them was spot on.

  • Next is Andrew – the 4th of the twelve.

    • The text does not give us much detail regarding Andrew and his background; however, scripture does give way to Andrew at a time being a part of the inner circle with the first three of the twelve named.

      • This happened in Mark 13:3:

Mark 13:3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him (Jesus) privately,
  • This questioning on the Mount of Olives dealt with future events that were to come regarding the last days and the return of Christ.

  • Next is Philip and Bartholomew, the 5th and 6th of the twelve.

    • Not much is given to us about Philip with the exception that he played an instrumental role in the calling of Nathanael.

      • We see this highlighted more clearly in John 1:43-51 where Philip tells Nathanael that they have found the Christ, the promised Messiah.

      • We must acknowledge that this Philip is not to be confused with Philip the evangelist, who explains the scripture in Isaiah to the Ethiopian eunuch and baptizes him.

    • Now for Bartholomew, also known as Nathanael.

      • His name means “gift of God”.

    • The name Bartholomew is an Aramaic patronym.

      • A patronym simply means a “surname”.

      • For example, in Matthew 16:17 where Peter is called “Simon Barjona” that surname or title simply means Simon “Son of Jonah”.

    • You may recall in John’s gospel that Nathanael came to follow Jesus after a skeptical dialogue with Philip announcing Jesus as Messiah.

      • It would not be until Philip encouraged Nathanael to “come and see” that Nathanael believed that Jesus was who He claimed to be (Messiah).

  • Next, we have Matthew and Thomas, the 7th and 8th of the twelve.

    • Matthew, as we discovered in our previous teachings, is a tax-collector.

      • His name as documented in Mark’s account before coming across Jesus was Levi.

        • This name, Matthew, in which Jesus gives Levi is confirmation of what we previously discussed.

        • That the name Matthew is Levi’s conversion name.

          • The name Matthew means “the gift of YHWH”.

    • Next is Thomas.

      • Within Mark’s account, up to this point, Thomas hasn’t been mentioned.

        • In John’s Gospel account you will see Thomas’ name in Greek was Didymus.

      • Thomas often is labeled as “Doubting Thomas” because of his reluctance in believing Jesus was raised.

      • Thomas is noted as refusing to believe this truth unless he himself, along with his own two eyes saw and with his own two hands felt and experienced this reality.

      • We see this confirmed in John 20:25-28, check out the text.

John 20:25 So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
John 20:26 After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus *came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” 
John 20:27 Then He *said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 
John 20:28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 
  • Before we move on, one interesting fact based upon Thomas’ transliterated name in both Hebrew and Greek means “twin”.

    • This means that Thomas was a twin brother of someone in whom the text does not mention.

  • Next, we have James, the Son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus – the 9th and 10th of the twelve.

    • As we discussed in previous teaching, James the Son of Alphaeus is not related to Matthew, as Alphaeus was a common name in that day.

      • Throughout church history, this James has been called “James the lesser” therefore being distinguished from James, Son of Zebedee, also known as “James the greater.”

    • Thaddaeus was the 10th Apostle (of the Twelve).

      • Thaddaeus was the brother of James the lesser.

      • Thaddaeus also went by another name – Judas.

        • Judas was the Hellenized form of Thaddaeus’ name.

  • We now arrive to the 11th and 12th apostles, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, the one whom betrayed Jesus. Let’s first look at Simon the Zealot.

    • He is the 11th Apostle. Some translations have called Simon, “Simon the Canaanite”, however this is a misreading of the Greek text.

      • In Hebrew-Aramic, the term “Zealot” is Ha-Kanai which transliterated into Greek is misread as “Canaanite.”

    • The proper rendering here is Zealot, which connects Simon the Zealot to the Zealot Party.

      • The Zealot Party held to an extreme position of Pharisaism, believing in an active resistance to Roman rule.

      • This resistance eventually gave way to the First Jewish Revolt (AD 66-70).

    • There was an unrelenting commitment to restore “the purity of Israel, the people’s faith, and the temple” according to Hengel’s book, The Zealots.

  • And lastly, the 12th apostle, Judas Iscariot.

    • The name Judas was a common name in the First Century Judaism.

      • As a matter of fact in the gospel of Luke and Acts, Thaddaeus is named Judas, son or brother of James.

      • To further see how common the name Judas is, the author of the book of Jude can be transliterated as Judas as well.

    • Iscariot means “a man of the town Kriyot” which was a town located in Southern Judah.

      • This makes Judas Iscariot the only non-Galilean amongst the other apostles.

    • There are some that suggest that another Aramaic form of the root means “strangulation” which points to Judas Iscariot’s end, according to Matthew 27:5:

Matthew 27:5 And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.
  • So, within this group of 12 are some fishermen, tax-collectors, a nationalist, and other workers in varying professions. Notice what this group is not.

    • There are no scholars, no theologians, no religious leaders, no political leaders, no learned men.

    • There is nothing spectacular about this group of men that spring from the pages of scripture.

    • You would think that the men in whom Jesus would choose to be the establishment of the New Testament Church would be men of learned taste.

      • No. As a matter of fact, they are far from it.

    • And could this be the point? Could the reality be that Jesus chose these men in order to make a point?

      • That these men could do nothing nor bring anything to the table to somehow stake claim to the reasoning for them being selected.

    • Could it be that Jesus’ sovereign election of these men were in fact a divine call and commission and that these men could not stake claim to what would be done through them?

      • Absolutely! The one making these men ready and equipping them for the work is none other than God Himself, through the person of Jesus.

    • Looking at this list of men, no one could say in their right minds, “Oh yeah, this group is the crème de la crème.”

      • No one in their right mind would say that, why? Because the reality is these men, at best, are a motley crew of misfits.

    • Jesus is forming a new community of people in a completely unorthodox way.

      • And He happens to choose the most imperfect people to become a people that He is sovereign over.

    • And as believers in Jesus, you too have been elected and chosen by God to follow Him as a learner.

      • Know that He is the one who has called us, and He is making us conform into His very image by the inward working of the Holy Spirit, today.

      • Join us next week as we walk through Mark 3:22-30. Let’s Pray.