On your Mark
To be with Him
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he
wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve — designating them
apostles — that they might be with him and that he might send them out to
preach and to have authority to drive out demons. (Mark 3:13-15, NIV)
My friend and college dorm mate, Phil Nichols, was the first
and only Assemblies of God chaplain to lose his life on a battlefield.
During the Vietnam War, Phil had bivouacked with his troops
one evening, and in the early morning hours an explosion took the lives of all
the men in the company.
I flew from Springfield, Mo., to Kalispell, Mont., for his
funeral service. I really didn’t know what to say. How can you explain or
interpret a sorrow like this to his widow and three young children?
The call of the twelve disciples came to my mind, and I saw
it in a whole new way. The call had three elements: to be with Jesus, to
preach, and to cast out demons.
It struck me that the last two are earth-related and not
eternal. There is no need to preach in heaven since everyone is saved, and
there certainly are no demons. But the first call — to be with Jesus
— lasts for time and eternity.
That’s true for us all. One day we will all step outside
time and space. The question is this: “Whose arms will you step into?”
The Lord Jesus waits on the other side for all who believe
So the first thing the Lord always does is call us to be
with Him. He’s more concerned with your presence than your activity. He’s first
concerned with who you are before He’s concerned with what you do.
It’s also fascinating to compare Matthew’s account of the
calling of the Twelve with Mark’s. The other Gospels add some details.
Matthew notes the call came after Jesus had said the harvest
was plentiful, but the workers were few. Therefore, He asked them to pray for
laborers (Matthew 9:37,38). Luke tells us that Jesus spent the whole night in
prayer before He named the Twelve as apostles (Luke 6:12).
I’ve always wondered what factors led Jesus to select the
Twelve from the many who followed Him. I suspect we have the answer —
Jesus had asked them to pray. Then Jesus himself spent the
night in prayer. Isn’t it likely that the Twelve were the ones from the many
who actually did what the Lord had requested? My guess is that they were the
ones who prayed.
It’s the same way today. Jesus wants workers in His harvest
fields. Whom will He send? Those who pray!
Finally, this passage marks a graduation of sorts. The
disciples begin the transition to apostles. That’s the new name given them for
the first time. Disciples follow and apostles are sent. Jesus gives them a new
status before they have even earned it. Just as salvation is by grace, so our
vocation of ministry also stems from grace.
The transition from following to leading took some time for
that original group of disciples just as it takes us time to grow into the full
measure of stature and maturity in Christ. But as we follow and stay close to
Him, we grow into all the potential He designed us for.
A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, today again I re-enlist as Your follower. Thank
You for giving me the greatest honor — to be with You — now and
forever. Thank You also for the responsibility You give me as You send me to
witness for You by word and deed.
GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies
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