May 7/8 – Luke 6:12-19 – Notes and Discussion – The Choosing of the Twelve
May 7/8 – Luke 6:12-19 – Notes and Discussion
1. Jesus spends the night in prayer before choosing His closest followers (Luke 6:12).
It’s an amazing thought, isn’t it? Jesus—the second person of the Trinity—living in total dependence upon the Father!
Here He is on a mountain top, in the middle of the night, praying to the Father for wisdom, clarity and guidance. To those of us who struggle with the practice of prayer, Jesus’ example is an encouragement to think differently about what it means to live in relationship with Him.
Though Jesus didn’t spend every night in prayer, it was common practice for Him to get up early or stay up late in order to pray. Here are several references from throughout the Gospels:
After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. Matthew 14:23
In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Mark 1:35
After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray. Mark 6:46
But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. Luke 5:16
The disciples learned from watching their Master. Just as Jesus spent extra time in prayer before making this important decision, so it became the early Church’s practice as well (Acts 6:6; 13:2–3; 14:23; 1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6).
- What role does prayer play in your own decision-making processes?
- What are some of the things that keep us from important time spent in prayer? How can even good things (i.e. study, counsel, discussion, reading, etc.) sometimes keep us from prayer?
- How would you respond to the following quote by the well-known 19th-century author E.M. Bounds? Would you agree or disagree, and why?
What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men—men of prayer. E.M. Bounds
2. The choosing of the Twelve (Luke 6:13-16).
By observing Jesus’ plans and priorities, we gain insight into the mechanics of how He carried out His mission. For instance, there were, at times, many (perhaps hundreds) who might have called themselves Christ’s followers. At one point He chose to narrow the crowd to seventy for the purpose of sending them on a practical experience (see Luke 10). Then, in this weekend’s passage we see the group narrowed to a base of twelve. Further still, Jesus at times includes only three disciples in His plans (Peter, James and John). Jesus gave each group the appropriate experience of Himself, at just the right time.
Jesus is strategic in building His team. In the face of growing, and now solidifying opposition to His teaching and ministry, He forms a leadership group that He will train. After receiving the Father’s specific guidance through prayer, Jesus confidently chooses the twelve men who will be most responsible for further establishing His mission once He’s gone.
It’s interesting, however, to take note of the men Jesus chooses. What a variety! Matthew (Levi) worked for the state as a tax collector; Simon the Zealot was sworn to overthrow the state! And then there’s Judas Iscariot, the one who would betray the Son of Man to the Romans. Here are men we might not have chosen at first glance, yet God’s plan was perfect—each of them played a useful role in His Kingdom.
- What can we learn about the character and nature of God as we look at the men Jesus chose to be His closest followers and future leaders?
3. Jesus’ growing and effective ministry (Luke 6:17-19).
These verses appear to be a bridge—a summary statement—between the calling of the twelve and the Sermon on the Mount (or plain, according to Luke).
His ministry has now grown to include visitors from not only Galilee, but also from “all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon.”
Why were they coming? To “hear Him” and “to be healed of their diseases.” Also, the demon-possessed were being set free. Now all of Israel knew that there was a prophet in their midst. So great was His power that healing would happen just by His touch.
It appears there are three groups of people present at this occasion: the newly chosen apostles, a larger crowd of Jesus’ disciples, and also a more distant crowd (“the people”). Jesus’ message is not for insiders only; anyone can listen, and the invitation is given that people might freely respond.
Jesus will now define ever more clearly the values of His Kingdom, in this coming Sermon on the Mount. Many will take offense, but those who have ears to hear will be blessed indeed.